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LIFE > Life in the World > Drinkers of Wine > Jesus and Wine > The True Vine      


God took a “vine out of Egypt” and “planted it” (Ps. 80:9); that vine was the nation of Israel, for Israel is spoken of in the Old Testament as a “vine” (Ps. 80:8; Hos. 10:1 and also as a “vineyard” (Isa. 5:7). It was “a noble vine,” but it turned into “the degenerate plant of an alien vine” (Jer. 2:21) and brought forth “wild grapes” (Isa. 5:4). It became good for nothing but to be cast aside and burned. “Therefore thus says the Lord God, ‘Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have give to the fire for fuel, so I will give up the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and I will set My face against them . . . thus I will make the land desolate, because they have persisted in unfaithfulness’ ” (Ezek. 15:6-7; see 19:10-14). The Old Testament vine proved to be an untrue vine.

In contrast to the Old Testament vine of Israel is “the true vine” of the New Testament. Rather than a nation, it is an individual; the “true vine” is the Messiah promised to the nation. He is the One who says” “I am the true vine” (Jo. 15:1), true in the sense of genuine or perfect. Jesus is absolutely reliable and totally trustworthy.

It is a bold and shocking claim by a Jew spoken to Jews. Such a claim reveals arrogance, deceitfulness, or truthfulness. Whereas Israel as a nation proved unfit, Jesus exhibits righteousness and sufficiency. Thus, Jesus refers to Himself as a vine, a vine that produces grapes, grapes that produce wine. Here is a metaphor that does not favor the claims of the teetotaler.

To be attached to Israel, the old vine, leads to death; it is to be numbered with the “wild grapes.” To be attached to “the true vine” is to experience life. The reference point is the dependency of the branches on the vine for their life-sustaining nutrients. The life in the branches is derived from the life that is in the vine. There is no life in the branches in and of themselves. This is why Jesus says: “Abide in Me” (Jo. 15:4). The believer’s life is to be the life of Christ. Paul came to know this clearly and satisfyingly; he writes: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). To abide in Christ enables one to produce “fruit,” “more fruit,” and “much fruit” (Jo. 15:2, 5); it results in “good grapes” rather than “wild grapes.” Jesus plainly says: “Without Me you can do nothing” (v. 5). The believer can and will produce sweet wine with his life as he sustains his life with the life flowing from the Vine—the life of the believer is the life of the Vine.

In connection with the vine metaphor is the designation of God the Father as the “vinedresser” (Jo. 15:1), called “the husbandman” in the AV. Jesus says of His Father: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (v. 2).

To bear fruit is to develop and exhibit those qualities that are produced by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-23). To bear fruit is to be growing in grace. The Father brings into the life of the believer those experiences (“He prunes”) that increase and hastens one’s growth in becoming like Christ. A cutting—the experience is painful—may be involved, but “more fruit” is the result. God the Father is likened to the one who insures that the vineyard will produce the maximum number of grapes. The more grapes, the more wine.

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