I Am the True Vine

John 15:1-17 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

I Am the True Vine

The metaphor of vine and branches underscores how our salvation, from beginning to end, is all of grace. Jesus is the faithful remnant of Israel—the true Vine and fruitful Vineyard (Ps. 80:8–16Isa. 5:1–7Ezek. 15:1–6). By the Spirit’s presence in our lives, we have entered into an organic union with him—a union of branches to Vine (Rom. 11:24). We are, as the New Testament puts it time and again, “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3–14). We are engrafted into the true Israel. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).

Here Jesus says that he chose his disciples to be his branches; they did not choose him (John 15:16). This reminds us that our calling, as Christ’s present disciples, is not to trumpet our wise decisions but simply to abide—to dwell, to marinate, to go “deeper still” into Jesus. For apart from Jesus, we can do nothing and will bear no fruit. Failing to abide in Jesus does not suggest the possibility of losing one’s salvation; rather it underscores that salvation can be found nowhere else. Continuance in Christ is a test of reality. The Bible teaches both the perseverance of the saints and that true saints will persevere. We strive ahead, yet even that striving is a gift of grace (1 Cor. 15:10Phil. 2:12–13Col. 1:29). 

Jesus defines the life of abiding as a life of love. Just as the Father loves Jesus, so Jesus loves us. Jesus loves us just as much as the Father loves him. We cannot earn Jesus’ love. Our obedience to Jesus merits nothing, but it profits greatly. Jesus’ commands are not burdensome, for they are for our best, and he has fulfilled the demands and the judgment of God’s law that could condemn us (Rom. 10:42 Cor. 5:21).

The radical grace of the gospel transforms servanthood into friendship. Only grace can free us to obey Jesus out of friendship and worship, and no longer out of fear or self-interest.

*These devos are taken from Crossway's, ESV Gospel Transformation Bible.