The Vine and the Branches

Posted by Thaddaeus

John 15: 1-8


Jesus said to his disciples: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower.  He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit.  You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you.  Remain in me, as I remain in you.  Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me.  I am the vine, you are the branches.  Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing.  Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you.  By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples."


Background:  Last week, Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep.  In this passage, He refers to Himself as the true vine.  The Father is the vine grower.  We are the branches.  The Church is the vineyard.  The vine, the vine grower, the branches and the vineyard are one.  The passage resembles a parable.  It takes place at the Last Supper on the night He institutes the Holy Eucharist as He tries to comfort the disciples about the events of the pending passion and death about to take place.  From this perspective, we can see the reality of the Church as communion.  The bonds that unite us are not flesh and blood, but that of water and the Holy Spirit.  We are one with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit through Baptism.  Baptism is the gateway into the sheepfold in the parable of the Good Shepherd and the gateway to the vineyard in this one.  Both the sheepfold and vineyard symbolize the Church.


The Vine and the Branches:  The fruit of the vine is that of a life of obedience to keep His commandments.  And, His commandment is this: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us.  If we do this, we remain in Him.  Otherwise, we will be thrown out like a branch and wither.  On the vine image, branches were pruned and dried on the wall of the vineyard for later use as fuel.  For the sake of argument, let me throw some fuel on the fire.  Many Evangelical Christians are taught the notion of “Once Saved, Always Saved.”  While it is compelling, Jesus never teaches such doctrine.  We must remain in Him.  A decision to remain presupposes we have the free-will to walk away from salvation.  In fact, many of His early disciples did walk away and no longer accompany Him after he teaches the difficult doctrine of the Eucharist.   The never-ending source of spiritual communion.