I am the True Vine
" I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
John 15: 1-17
The true Vine
This is a remarkable text on profound relationship. Isolated verses may sound absurd. How can anyone command another to love? In context, the command becomes the overwhelming pressure of encounter. Love is a force that bubbles up from the rapport that exists between Jesus and the believer and takes the shape of a command springing from within.
Words fall over one another in the attempt to explain what is happening. There is the closest ongoing affinity described under the image of abiding. “Abide in my love”, Jn.15:9. There is an insightful reflection the role of communication as the basis of friendship. Friends are not commanded. They are requested, invited to do something on the basis of friendship, expectation and exchange of information, Jn.15:15. Underpinning the situation is the intensity of a love that does not hesitate when life itself is to be the demand of love, Jn.15:13.
Love energizes and pushes into action. The love received must be reflected and refracted in the works of care. Otherwise, it bears no relationship to the quality of love which floods the believer. That love is sacrificial as it empowers one to self gift. A life that does not respond to that love is cold, chilled with the pallor of unfeeling. It is a withered branch that has cut itself off from the source of life.
The passage on the True Vine opens with one of the seven ˜I am” sayings which have such a significant role in the Gospel of John. They are very familiar. Examples are “I am the bread of life”, Jn.6:35; ˜I am the good shepherd” Jn.10:14; ˜I am the resurrection and the life” Jn.11:25. The words ˜I am” are momentous in being a clear reference to the divine name in texts such as ˜I am who I am” in Exodus 3:14. Jesus applies these words to himself with stark clarity when he says: ”Before Abraham ever was, I am”, Jn.8:58 So when Jesus proclaims ˜I am the true vine”, he is teaching that the believer is carried in the life and energies of God. The believer is not alone, reliant on his own undependable strengths. The believer is the conduit of Divine Energy which supports, gently urges and carries to conclusion.
It is important to note that these words on the vine and the branches are found in the Last Supper Discourse of Jesus in Jn.13-17. While there is no reference to a Passover, these chapters teach a profoundly Eucharistic spirituality. It is the love of Christ encountered in the Eucharist that gives life to those who dwell in him.
This is the Story of Jesus drawn from the four Evangelists
Gospel passages accompanied by a number of brief commentaries