In previous blogs I have covered the top ten teachings according to the frequency with which Christ taught (seen on page 133 of the download ‘What on earth have we done with the teachings of Jesus’). We are now covering the ‘I AM’s’ of Jesus. Jesus came to reveal the Father and show the way to salvation. Over 20 times in the Gospels He uses the declaration ‘I am’ in explaining who He was. In so doing He was affirming His divinity and His relationship to mankind. The next of these is ‘I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vinedresser’.
On average people are drinking more
Alcohol is made using fermented grains, vegetables, or fruits. The process of yeast or bacteria responds with sugars in the food resulting in ethanol and carbon dioxide. Beer and wine are fermented alcohols with spirits going through more distillation to produce a higher alcohol concentration. The average Brit consumes 108 bottles of wine a year. In the UK, 27% of the population are classified as binge drinkers, much higher than the global average. With 30% of young drinkers admit they ‘drink to get drunk’.
Alcohol is a suppressant due to its slowing down of motor functions, reaction times, and speech. In low amounts it has a stimulant effect. But when consumed in larger amounts the effects have a depressant impact. One research finding has shown that levels of alcohol consumption are growing faster than the population. On average people are drinking more, even in countries where average alcohol intake is decreasing.
Drinking more than the standard one drink a day is associated with over 60 health conditions including: heart disease, atrial fibrillation, stroke and cancer. Alcoholism reduces a person’s life expectancy by 10 years.
People drink because they thirst
The consumption of alcohol has increased in 2020 due to the ‘anxiety generated by the pandemic and the very strong fear of the economic consequences of it’. The increase of alcohol consumption during lockdown could lead to a second health crisis with many turning to alcohol to handle stress, anxiety and boredom.
The temptations of Alcohol must have been present during Jesus’ day. And so He tells them ‘I am the true vine and My Father is the vine-dresser’. People drink because they have thirst. People drink alcohol to make themselves feel better. We have a lack in our lives that only Jesus can fill. ‘Whoever comes to Me’, said Jesus to the woman at the well, ‘will never thirst again’.
John 15 – I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit. You are cleansed and pruned already, because of the word which I have given you [the teachings I have discussed with you]. Dwell in Me, and I will dwell in you. [Live in Me, and I will live in you.] Just as no branch can bear fruit of itself without abiding in (being vitally united to) the vine, neither can you bear fruit unless you abide in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. Whoever lives in Me and I in him bears much (abundant) fruit. However, apart from Me [cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.
He is the True Vine
Henry says – Here Christ addresses the subject of fruit, the fruits of the Spirit, which His disciples were to bring forth. Jesus Christ is the vine, the true vine.
The vine is a spreading plant, and Christ will be known as salvation to the ends of the earth. The fruit of Christ’s mediation is better than gold (Prov. 8:19 My fruit is better than gold, yes, than refined gold, and my increase than choice silver). He is the true vine, as truth is opposed to pretence and counterfeit. He is a fruitful plant, a plant of renown. Whatever excellency there is in anything serviceable to man, is but a shadow of that grace which is in Christ for the good of His people.
Believers are branches of this vine, with Christ as the root. The root is unseen, and our life is hid with Christ. The root bears up the tree (Rom. 11:18 Do not boast over the branches and pride yourself at their expense. If you do boast and feel superior, remember it is not you that support the root, but the root [that supports] you). The root diffuses sap to the branches as in Christ all are supported and provided for. The branches of the vine are many, some on one side of the house or wall, others on the other side. They meet at the root but are all one vine. All good Christians, though in place and opinion distant from each other, yet meet in Christ, the centre of their unity. Believers, like the branches of the vine, are weak, and insufficient to stand of themselves, but they are borne up.
The Father is the Vinedresser
The Father is the husbandman, georgos—the land-worker. Though the earth is the Lord’s, it yields Him no fruit unless He works it. God has not only the ownership of, but a care of, the vine and all the branches. He has planted, watered, and gives the increase, for we are God’s husbandry, (1 Cor. 3:9 you are God’s garden and vineyard and field under cultivation, [you are] God’s building).
He had an eye upon Christ, the root, and upheld Him, and made Him to flourish out of a dry ground. He has an eye upon all the branches, and prunes them, and watches over them, that nothing hurt them. Never was any husbandman so wise, so watchful, about his vineyard, as God is about His people, which therefore must prosper.
We must be fruitful. From a vine we look for grapes (Isa. 5:2 And He looked for it to bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes), and from a Christian we look for Christianity – this is the fruit, a Christian temperament and disposition, a Christian life and conversation, Christian devotions and Christian designs. We must honour God, and do good, and exemplify the purity and power of the faith we profess – and this is bearing fruit. The disciples here must be fruitful, as Christians, in all the fruits of righteousness, and in diffusing the savour of the knowledge of Christ.
He purges the fruitful
To persuade them to this, He cautions them regarding the doom of the unfruitful (John 15:2): They are taken away. It is here intimated that there are many who pass for branches in Christ who yet do not bear fruit. Were they really united to Christ by faith, they would bear fruit. But being only tied to Him by the thread of an outward profession, though they seem to be branches, they will soon be seen to be dry ones. Unfruitful professors are unfaithful professors.
For those that do not bear fruit in Christ, and in His Spirit and grace, are as if they bore no fruit at all. It is here threatened that they shall be taken away, in justice to them and in kindness to the rest of the branches. From him that has not real union with Christ, and its fruit produced, shall be taken away even that which he seemed to have, Luke 8:18.
However He purges the fruitful, that they may bring forth more fruit. Further fruitfulness is the blessed reward of forward fruitfulness. The first blessing was, Be fruitful. Even fruitful branches, in order to their further fruitfulness, have need of purging or pruning. He takes away that which is superfluous and luxuriant, which hinders its growth and fruitfulness. The best have in them that which often needs taking away – some notions, passions, or humours. Christ has promised by His Word, and Spirit, and providence, and these shall be taken off by degrees in the proper season. The purging of fruitful branches, in order to their greater fruitfulness, is the care and work of the great Husbandman, for His own glory.
We are cleansed by the Word
Believers have great benefits by the doctrine of Christ: Now you are clean, John 15:3. The Word of Christ is a distinguishing word and separates between the precious and the vile and will purify His people on that great dividing day. They were each clean or sanctified, by the truth of Christ (John 17:17 Sanctify them [purify, consecrate, separate them for Yourself, make them holy] by the Truth; Your Word is Truth).
That faith by which they received the Word of Christ purified their hearts, Acts 15:9 He made no difference between us and them, but cleansed their hearts by faith (by a strong and welcome conviction that Jesus is the Messiah, through Whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God). The Spirit of grace by the word refined them from the dross of the world and the flesh.
The Word of Christ is spoken to all believers. There is a cleansing virtue in that Word, as it works grace, and works out corruption. It cleanses as fire cleanses gold from its dross. We are cleansed by the Word when we bring forth fruit unto holiness.
In our fruitfulness the glory of God overflows and we receive comfort and honour ourselves, (John 15:8 When you bear (produce) much fruit, My Father is honoured and glorified, and you show and prove yourselves to be true followers of Mine). By the eminent good works of Christians many are brought to glorify our Father who is in heaven. So shall we be owned by our Master in the Great Day, and have the reward of disciples, a share in the joy of our Lord. And the more fruit we bring, the more we abound in that which is good, the more He is glorified.
Abide in Him
In order to be fruitful, we must abide in Christ, must keep up our union with Him by faith, and do all we do in the virtue of that union. Abide in me, and I in you. It is the great concern of all who belong to Christ to constantly keep up a dependence upon Him and communion with him. Habitually to adhere to Him, and actually to derive our supplies from Him. Those that have come to Christ must abide in Him: “Abide in Me, by faith; and I in you, by My Spirit; abide in Me, and then fear not but I will abide in you”. The communion between Christ and believers never fails on His side. We must abide in Christ’s Word by a regard to it, and it in us as a light to our feet. We must abide in Christ’s merit as our righteousness and plea, and it in us as our support and comfort. The branch abides in the vine, and the sap of the vine abides in the branch, and so there is a constant communication between them.
“You cannot bring forth fruit, unless you abide in Me. If you do, you bring forth much fruit; for, in short, without Me, or separate from Me, you can do nothing.” Abiding in Christ is necessary in order to our doing much good. He that is constant in the exercise of faith in Christ and love to Him, that lives upon His promises and is led by His Spirit, brings forth much fruit. A life of faith in the Son of God is incomparably the most excellent life a man can live in this world. It is necessary to our doing any good. It is not only a means of cultivating and increasing what good there is already in us, but it is the root and spring of all good: “Without Me you can do nothing: not only no great thing, heal the sick, or raise the dead, but nothing.”
Apart from the merit of Christ, we can do nothing towards our justification and from the Spirit of Christ nothing towards our sanctification. Without Christ we can do nothing aright, nothing that will be fruit pleasing to God or profitable to ourselves, (2 Cor. 3:5 our power and ability and sufficiency are from God).
There are fatal consequences of forsaking Christ (John 15:6) – If any man does not abide in Me, he is cast out. This is a description of the fearful state of hypocrites that are not in Christ, and of apostates that abide not in Christ. Those who think they have no need of Him; and that those who reject Him will be rejected by Him. They are withered, as a branch broken off from the tree. Their parts and gifts wither, their zeal and devotion wither, their credit and reputation wither, their hopes and comforts will wither, (Job 8:11-13 So are the ways of all who forget God; and the hope of the godless shall perish). Those that bear no fruit, after while will bear no leaves. How soon is that fig-tree withered away which Christ has cursed! The sheep that wander from Christ’s fold, the devil stands ready to seize them for himself. They cast them into the fire, that is, they are cast into the fire, for they make them children of hell. They are burned forever in a fire, which not only cannot be quenched.
Yet If My words abide in you, you shall ask what you will of My Father in My name, and it shall be done. See how our union with Christ is maintained—by the Word. If you abide in Me and My Words abide in you. For it is in the Word that Christ is set before us, and offered to us, Rom. 10:6-8 The Word (God’s message in Christ) is near you, on your lips and in your heart; that is, the Word (the message, the basis and object) of faith which we preach). It is in the Word that we receive and embrace Him and so where the Word of Christ dwells richly there Christ dwells. If the Word be our constant guide and monitor, if it be in us as at home, then we abide in Christ, and He in us.
If we have Christ, we have all
How our communion with Christ is maintained—by prayer: You shall ask what you will, and it shall be done to you. And what can we desire more than to have what we will for the asking? Those that abide in Christ as their heart’s delight shall have, through Christ, their heart’s desire. If we have Christ, we shall not ask anything but what is proper to be done for us. The promises abiding in us lie ready to be turned into prayers. If we abide in Christ and His Word we shall have such an interest in God’s favour and Christ’s mediation that we shall have an answer of peace to all our prayers.
Adapted from the Matthew Henry Commentary
The Keeper of the Vineyard The Lord is the keeper of His own Vineyard. Of its needs He is fully aware. He does not trust it to any other But makes it His own personal care. Are they not well kept whom God alone keeps Safe in love’s overflow? We are graciously watered every moment; How then we ought to grow! What rich clusters the vines should bear. How fresh and fruitful every plant should be. Disturbers may come to destroy But the Great Protector of all things does see. The Lord Himself is our guardian Are we not safe indeed? He tends; He waters; He guards. What more do we need? By the late Andrew Feakin (passed away 16th March 2019)
Prayer: Father, I thank You that You are the true Vine. Nothing satisfies like You and Your Word. May I be a fruitful branch to You, use me for Your Glory. In the name of Christ I pray. Amen.