True Vine

At the end of John ch.14, Jesus said, "Come now, let us leave" they were in the Upper Room when He said that.

In chapter 18 it describes the place where they ended up; they crossed the Kidron valley, to a place where there was a garden, an olive grove.

All the conversation that takes place between these two places, is said while they are on the move.

Their walk would have taken them past the Temple Gates, which were huge, very broad and high. Carved on them at the front of this holy place was the national symbol of Israel, a symbol which even appeared on certain coins… A VINE! The carving was supposed to have been exquisite, covered with gold leaf.

The branches curved up to a height of twenty feet, and swept low almost to ground level, laden with great bunches of golden grapes. Many a man had counted it an honour to give gold to mould a new bunch of grapes or even a new grape on that vine. Who knows they may even have viewed this carving on their way to the olive grove in the full moonlight of the Passover?

The tragedy of a people who had been chosen for so much, but achieved so little, had probably weighed heavily on the Lord's heart all through that last week of His earthly life. How empty was this showy symbol! In the Old Testament there were such hopes for Israel. Prophets and psalmists bemoaned the fact that though Israel was a choice vine, planted carefully and lovingly by God, she had become disobedient and unfaithful, a wild vine… one fit to be destroyed and trampled upon.

Were the disciples gazing at this symbol on the gates of the temple as they heard Him say, "I am the Vine, the True Vine; and my Father is the husbandman."

The word that Jesus used for TRUE, was ‘alethinos’ means the genuine article, the real thing for in Jesus was a vine willing to be pruned savagely and cruelly right back, so that new growth could begin afresh.

JESUS’ IMAGERY OF THE VINE IS VERY POWERFUL.

Just because his listeners were Jews… would not be enough to save them. What would save them was a close relationship with him. They had to be absolutely joined to him.

1 The Sap of constant communication and mystical unity of Spirit had to flow through them.

2 In order to be at their most fruitful, they had to abide in him; on their own there could be no life or growth!

3 Severe pruning would be necessary in their lives too if they were to produce the best fruit in their lives.

4… those who refused to listen to him or accept his message.…

those whose faith might consist of profession and not practice, words without deeds, all leaves and no fruit.…

those do as they liked and abandon the faith altogether would be like the main wood of the vine itself serving no real purpose other than as firewood, not even good enough for the altar fires. It would only be fit to be destroyed.

In this gospel there is much about ABIDING in Christ, there is here a oneness, rather like a true friendship.

Christ has called us friends. No longer are we servants.

In the days of the Roman emperor and the Middle Eastern kings, royalty had certain select group of people called ‘Friends of the Emperor/ King’. They had access to him even at the start of the day, and even in his bedchamber. He would discuss things with them even before the politicians or the military. They had open access.

We, as his friends, have that too.

With a true friend you’re able recognise their voice, you seem to have a sense of what they think and how they would react in various situations. You can tell immediately what pleases them or distresses them. With a friend there is the desire to see them often and spend time with them, defend them and protect them.

If we abide in God, he promises that kind of relationship!

It is summed up so well in this verse, of a hymn which pleads for that friend who is God to forever abide in us.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;

What but Thy grace can foil the tempter's power?

Who like Thyself my guide and stay can be?

Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me.