“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.” (John 15:5)
Why does Jesus liken us to branches on a vine (John 15:1-8)?
It’s not merely because the vine gives life to the branches–He could have used almost any plant to say that. Why does he use a vine?
One reason could simply be that vines were common in Israel so he used a plant that everyone in that time and place would have been familiar with. If he were in Vermont, where I currently live, some might say that he would have used the Sugar Maple.
But I think the reference to vines here is more than a simple teaching device to build common ground with his audience. Scholars say that vines are among the most high-maintenance crops in all of agriculture. They need constant pruning and attention if the clusters of grapes are to grow to full maturity.
Could it be that Jesus used this metaphor because our relationship with God is the same? Without constant care, maintenance, pruning, and watering, our spiritual life will wither up and die. In short, Jesus uses this metaphor because he knows how needy we are. As he says, “Apart from me, you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
We are needy branches, but Christ is THE life-giving, all-sufficient vine.
Being a branch that bears fruit begins by recognizing just how needy we are and just how ready Christ is to meet every need. Run to Him today, confess your neediness and look to Him to provide.
My life is one of contradictions. I’m a southern boy living in northern New England; a boring guy married to super-fun girl; a conservative pastor in a progressive Christian denomination; a changed man in need of change; a sinner loved by a holy and perfect God.