“The Conversationalist” Sermon Series
When Jesus Speaks Through Parables
“I Am the True Vine”
Jesus and his disciples have gathered to celebrate the Passover and Jesus has introduced the Lord’s Supper where he talks about the disciples eating his flesh and drinking his blood, and how he will leave but will return. Having argued about who was going to be the greatest in the new kingdom that Jesus was about to usher in, to their astonishment Jesus took off his outer garment and went around and washed their feet as a servant. They leave the meal and follow him into the night air, no one is speaking, they seem to know that something bad is about to happen. Before the torches, soldiers, Judas’ betrayal and his arrest, they are standing in a vineyard. Jesus turns to them and says, . . .
I. Jesus is the True Vine (vv. 1-6)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
(v. 1) “I am the true vine “ – “If you didn’t grow up in wine country, you might think that the vine is a long, trailing limb that sprawls along the trellis. Actually, it’s the trunk of the plant that grows out of the ground. Vineyard keepers traditionally keep the vine at waste height – thirty-six to forty-two inches.”
“my Father is the vinedresser,” – The vinedresser is the keeper of the vineyard, and their job is make as many grapes as possible. He is the one who decides which vines stay and which ones will be removed. God the Father is moving and orchestrating our lives before us, Isaiah 5:2 “He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines;”
(v. 2) “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” – Jesus gives three parts, the vine (Jesus), the vinedresser (God the Father), and now he moves to the branches (the disciples). He shows that there are two types of branches—those that bear fruit and those that don’t. The branches that did not bear fruit “he takes away,” and those that do bear fruit are carefully trimmed so that they will produce even more fruit.
Pruning is painful, and involves loss, James 1:2 “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”
(v. 3) “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.” – earlier in the evening as the disciples were celebrating the Passover meal, Jesus washed the disciple’s feet (John 13). Peter does not want Jesus to wash his feet, but Jesus insists saying, “If I do not wash you, you have no share with me.” 9 Simon Peter said to him, “Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!” 10 Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” 11 For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.” Jesus then went on to say, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Here the disciples are already bearing fruit because of their following Jesus’ teachings. Jesus’ Word leads all of his disciples to God honoring action, and that is bearing fruit, having spiritual growth. “The fruit which the branch bears is the fruit of the vine. It is the fruit of Himself, produced by the indwelling Spirit, the fruit which is like the true vine Himself; it is Christlikeness.”
Bearing Fruit = Christlikeness
(v. 6) “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.” – Bible scholars have struggled with verse because they feel it deals with eternal security, and can a person lose their salvation? This verse deals with judgement of those that do not abide in Christ. This does not apply to believers, Jesus said, “If anyone does not abide” The end result of not abiding in Christ is there is no fruit in a person’s life – which we define as being like Christ (Christlikenss).
Then this judgement makes sense – if a person doesn’t have a relationship with Jesus so that they sense a separation and draw near to Him, they are not concerned about obeying and applying Jesus’ words to their lives, nor are they growing in walk with Jesus – at the end of the day, they don’t know Jesus. Matthew 7:23 “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.” These are the branches that are thrown into the fire, those that have an outward appearance of being religious, but there is no “abiding” in Christ.
A. Remaining & Bearing Fruit (vv. 7-8)
7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.
Abiding is a continuing exercising of faith in Jesus. So Jesus tells us that the branches that do not bear fruit (which we define as being like Jesus) are cut off and destroyed, and those that do bear fruit are pruned, how then does a follower of Jesus “bear fruit (become more like Christ?)” “We are responsible to live entirely in union with Jesus and in dependence on his presence.”
Followers of Jesus are to “abide” in Him. “Branches have life only to the extent to which they are attached to the vine, and fruitfulness stems only from the life-giving sap provided by the vine. All this illustrates the fact that the extent to which we rely on ourselves and our resources is the extent to which we fail”
“Abide is an old English word for “remain,” “stay steady” and “keep your position.” What it means to abide in Christ—that is, always to be resting on him, anchored to him, fixed in him, drawing from him, continually connected and in touch with him—is a pervasive theme in chapters 14—17. There is no more precious lesson to learn, no more enriching link and bond to cherish, no more vital connection to keep snug and tight, so that it never loosens, than this. Abiding in Christ brings peace, joy and love, answers to prayer, and fruitfulness in service. The abiding life is the abundant life.”
Jesus gathered disciples around him, they lived with him, ate with him – they were with him 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for over three years – why? So that Jesus could show them how to live the Christlike life. They had to be close to Him to see Him and learn.
The follower abides in Christ (dependence on Jesus), he also abides on Jesus’ word (the Bible as our source for living life), and asking “whatever you wish” (which is prayer) Jesus for what is needed to live out this life. God is glorified when a believer does and lives this way.
Our prayer life “is a reflection of that union with him, and the implication is that our prayers will not be self-centered but will seek God’s glory and leave our needs with him. Prayer in this sense is a major kind of fruit-bearing, a hallmark of true discipleship.”
“Christianity can be such a pretty faith. God calls us to wonderful things, to noble deeds, and to be a people of love. We are meant to be kind, joyful, brave, and good. These are attractive qualities that most people would love to be known for, Christian or not. The trouble is, we can approach the Christian life in the same way we decorate a Christmas tree, by piling on pleasing spiritual adornments. We can dress up our lives with church commitments, community service, spiritual language, a clean-cut family, and an upbeat attitude. All of these things look so great—so Christian—while obscuring what is really going on underneath. Beneath all the spiritual glitz, we can exist cut off from our root system, without detection. We can appear to be thriving, even though we are disconnected from the vine.”
B. Love & Joy in Jesus (vv. 9-11)
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
The love that God the Father has for God the Son is perfect and all-embracing. It is impossible for us to know the full extent of the Father’s love for the Son, but it is wonderous and incredible. “And his own are now the objects of the love of the Son of God in the same degree as He is beloved by the Father. Believers are “loved by God and called to be saints (Romans 1:7).”
For the believer three should be an overarching life of obedience to Jesus’ teaching and commands – but all Christians sin. And when we sin and rebel against God, we are convicted of sin, we repent and God forgives us, and then we deal with shame and guilt, and have to mend our relationship with God, etc. and there are seasons of joy. But God’s desire is that our joy may be full. This fulness of joy only comes through keeping Jesus’ commands.
My children know that Kimberly and I love them; and in their times of rebellion and disobedience we still love them the same – but our relationship changes. We move from being guides, friends, and experiencing the joy of life and move to discipling, limiting boundaries, removing privileges, and keeping them from doing things that would harm them. The joy in the relationship goes away and it becomes parent verses rebellious heart. The love is still there, but the joy is not there.
We don’t tell God how to run His universe and creation – He is the Creator and sustainer of existence. We follow His rules, and this omnipotent being desires to have a loving joyful relationship with His creation, giving His Son who gave His life so that the relationship may be restored, even calling us His children, so “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you.” Our joy in our relationship with God, will come as we obediently keep His Word.
C. Loving One Another (vv. 12-17)
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Having established the need to be obedient to Jesus and His Word, Jesus then gives a command to be followed, “love one another as I have loved you,” so how does Jesus define love. If I am going to show love or express love toward “one another,” what does that mean? Jesus gives the example, that followers of Jesus are to “lay down his life for his friends.”
1 John 3:16 “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” Christians are commanded to love others, specifically, other Christians, we are to “love one another.” But there is also a higher love, a greater love, that a person would “lay down his life for his friends.”
(v. 15) Jesus says, “No longer do I call you servants,” – servant was a common reference for a follower of a Rabbi. But now they have past the servant-Rabbi relationship to a friend. They are more than disciple-master relationship, they are the objects of Jesus’ love and friendship. Later in John 20:17, the relationship changes again, “Jesus said to her (one of the women who first discovers the empty tomb), “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers . . .”
(v. 14) This friendship is not conditional, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” As if when a Christians sins, then they lose their relationship or friendship with God. Following His Word allows us to enjoy a special intimacy with him. “Nothing can separate us from the love of Christ, (Romans 8:35), not even disobedience, but we can affect the closeness of the relationship.
“but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.” – We have the title, “friend of God,” and as friends, Jesus has told us the plan, He has made known to us the gospel.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit . . .” – The friendship, the eventual brotherhood, is rooted in a shared mission which all Christians have been appointed to be about, “bearing fruit.” As we seek to carry out this calling, and mission upon our lives – we abide in Christ, and together we move forward, so when we ask God the Father for something you need for the mission, (in Jesus’ name), he may give it to you.
Our love for one another is grounded in a friendship where we share the common command to abide in Christ, to have joy our relationship with Him, and as friends, carry out the mission of the gospel.
 Bruce Wilkerson, Secrets of the Vine (Sisters, Oregon; Multnomah Publishing, 2001) 18
 Arno C. Gaebelein, The Gospel of John, An Exposition (Neptune, New Jersey; Loizeaux Brothers, 1982) 296.
 Grant R. Osborne, John, Verse by Verse (Bellingham, Washington; Lexham Press, 2018) 357.
 Osborne, 357.
 J.I.Packer & Carolyn Nystrom, Abiding in Christ (LifeGuide Bible Studies), InterVarsity Press.
 Osborne, 359.
 Sharon Hodde Miller, Nice: Why We Love to Be Liked and How God Calls Us to More, Baker Publishing Group, 2019.
 Osborne, 363.