The words of this chapter are among the last to be spoken by the Lord, to His disciples, during His private ministry among them. Chapters 13 thru 17.
In the opening words of the discourse, “I am the true vine,” the Lord is contrasting Himself with Israel the “false vine.”
As the vine Israel brought God sour grapes.
As the fit tree Israel brought God leaves.
As the olive tree it was broken off.
Israel as a vine totally disappointed God.
“Yet I have planted you a noble vine, wholly a right seed. How then are ye turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto Me?”
“Wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, it brought forth wild grapes.”
God pronounced His judgment upon unfruitful Israel.
“I will tell you what I will do with My vineyard: I will take away the hedge and it shall be eaten up; I will break down the wall, and it shall be trodden down.”
The fulfillment of this prophecy was about to take place. Israel was about to crown its shameful history by casting out the Son who had come to claim his vineyard. See Matthew 21:33-34.
Because Israel was unfruitful for God, (1) He took away the hedge (2) He destroyed it in A.D. 70 (3) He broke down the wall.
In contrast to this failure, the Lord said, “I am the true vine.” He satisfied God. The opened heavens.
In verse 2 we are introduced to “the branches” of the vine.
A believer becomes a branch at conversion.
A vine needs branches, without them it cannot bear fruit.
On the other hand a branch is a piece of wood brought forth by the vine for the purpose of bearing fruit.
Fruit is mentioned six times in these verses. The importance of fruit bearing.
In this story the true source of fruitfulness is made known.
Living union and close identification with Christ, who is the inexhaustible source of living waters and the fount of every blessing.
Happy is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly.
Nor standeth in the way of sinners.
Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. Contrast Peter’s experience. “Note Peter’s abject sorrow.”
Happy is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates in it day and night.
The results of abiding in the Lord and His Word is:
He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water.
He shall bring forth fruit in its season.
His leaf shall not wilt.
And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. See also 2 Corinthians 3:18. Abiding in the Vine. “But we all with unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord are changed” etc.
“Joseph is a fruitful tree, even a fruitful tree by a well, where branches ran over the wall.”
“His bow abode in strength—his arms and hands were made strong by the mighty God.”
The final illustration of the Hampton Court Vine.
There are three conditions given here for a fruitful life.
1. Verse 2-3 Cleansing—purging or pruning. By the Word—Circumstances—His Servants. This can be a very painful process. Hebrews 12 “No chastening for the present” etc.
2. There is abiding Verse 4. “Abide in Me.”
This abiding in Christ, on the one hand, means that we have no unjudged or unconfessed sin in our lives. See I John I. Fellowship with the Father broken through sin.
On the other hand the “abiding one” takes all his burdens to Christ, and draws all wisdom, life and strength from Him.
Nothing is allowed in the “abiding believers” life which separates from Him.
3. There is obedience. Keep My commandments. Abide in My love. Love one another. “Better to obey than sacrifice.” The Lord said, “I come to do Thy will; of Lord.” Paul: “What wilt thou have me to do?” “Not My will but Thine be done.” Isaiah: “Here am I send me.”
For those who attain this divine standard there is a promise. See Verse 7.
What is this fruit?
1. The branch does not bear fruit for itself—but for its owner. I Corinthians 6:20 Ye are bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body and spirit, which are Gods.
2. Fruit bearing is the one thing for which we have been saved. See Verse 16.
3. The fruit the branch bears is the fruit of the vine. Metamorphosis. The believer should bear the resemblance of Christ. Transformed—changed.
4. Other kinds of fruit:
The fruit of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23.
The fruit of winning souls. Romans 1:13.
The fruit of Christian character. Romans 6:21-22.
The fruits of righteousness. Philippians 1:11.
The secret of fruit bearing is “abiding,” mentioned eight times in 10 verses.
Note the four degrees in fruit bearing. No fruit Verse 2—Fruit Verse 2—More Fruit Verse 2—Much fruit Verse 5-8.
“Herein is My Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit.” Verse 8 (Disciples).