In John 15:1-8 we find Jesus moving to the garden where His final night on earth begins. On the way, Jesus shares some final thoughts with His disciples. We find his encouragement of the vine and branches. As we look at this metaphoric example of life in Christ and as a disciple of Christ, we should appreciate what Jesus is using as His example.
A vibrant vineyard, in the first century, represented a successful home, a prosperous endeavor and a studious husbandman. When one established a vine and maintained it well they were sure to produce a succulent fruit.
We might ask why Jesus did not say He was the root, but the vine. The vine grown in the middle east is a hardy one and long lived. It’s roots extend deep into the ground. The roots deliver water and nutrients to the vine. Why wouldn’t Jesus, being the giver of life, identify more with the root. There are two reasons, first, in his position as man, purposefully humbling himself to our limitations, He stated many times in His ministry that He was dependent upon the Father. (Jhn 5:19) The Father is more the root, Jesus is the conduit to all the branches.
There is a second reason. The grape vine we suspect most likely referenced is a very hardy vine. To trim the vine, not the branches, but the vine itself, one should cut it off at the ground just above the root. In a season, that vine will return to production. This is very much a picture of the Lord being cut off at the crucifixion and in a very short time, three days, He returns to full productivity and even more. The vines He produces are also more hardy.
We find the Savior again encouraging His disciples that He must depart, but He will come back stronger. In his position now, He is weakened, disciples are challenged to follow Him. Even the 12 core disciples do not wholly believe in His resurrection, His atoning sacrifice, His whole ministry. They do not understand either. Jesus is saying that just as the husbandman must take drastic action to excise a weak vine, the Father will take the exact same action to excise Jesus in His weakened human condition. In return in three days the vine will grow back to produce abundant fruit.
This is also a testimony to the branches. They do not see it now, but they are weak and producing very little fruit. The branches attached to this human vine are not worthy of the appellation “disciple of Christ.” Once the vine is restored from the eternal root of the Father, the branches produced will also be greatly strengthened.
Christian, draw from your faith in the resurrected Jesus just as the disciples did in that first week. Pull from that vine the nourishment of faith and spiritual growth, liberty and eternal life. Trust the Messiah. Abide in the vine.