I am the Vine, ye are the branches

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Last time we saw the incomparable enormity of Jesus.  He is the Way, the Truth and the Life.  If we want to see God we must look no further but only at Jesus.  For, as He says, “The Father is in me and I am in the Father.” (John 14:10)

While we are still reeling from this truth, Jesus hits us with another.  And this time it’s personal.

In John 15 verse 9 Jesus makes the most astonishing claim:

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.”

Ask yourself – how has the Father loved the Son?

He has loved Him perfectly, unbreakably, begininglessly and endlessly.  Remember from John 14 that Jesus is so much one with the Father that they are in each other.  As we have seen, Jesus is “in the bosom of the Father” (John 1:18).  Their love is the original love that both predated and produced the universe.  And now Jesus says that this love overflows to me.  How is that possible?

It’s possible only because of “union with Christ.”  We share in the eternal love of God because we share in Christ Himself.  The believer is one with Jesus, even as Jesus is one with the Father.  And perhaps the most evocative description of this one-ness is in John 15.  Here Jesus says:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

Throughout the Old Testament Israel are pictured as a vine.  But for the most part they are a fruitless vine.  Now it’s true that some trees have a use apart from their fruitfulness – perhaps they are good for furniture or timber.  But not vines.  If a vine is fruitless, it is useful only as firewood.  This is our natural state, cut off from the life of God, fruitless before him and good for nothing.

But step forward Jesus.  He is the true Vine.  He is the true people of God, the true humanity.  Unlike natural man, Jesus has a connection to the ultimate Life-source and brings forth much fruit.  And the good news is this: we are grafted in to the fruitful Vine and we have life in Him.  Now that we are in Jesus we are in on the beloved Son as He stands in the Niagara of the Father’s love.

Just think of how close the believer is to Jesus.  He doesn’t simply say “I am the root structure, you are the vine.”  Or “I am the trunk, you are the branches.”  Jesus is the whole vine and we are branches within that vine.  Jesus comprehends His people in a remarkable way.  He incorporates us into Himself such that we are a part of Him.

We are one with Jesus like a bride with her groom, like a body with its head, like a branch with its vine.  We do not have a separate existence from Jesus.  We cannot pursue our life, our identity, our flourishing apart from Jesus.  And for His part, Jesus cannot reject us, abandon us or deny us any more than He can reject, abandon or deny Himself.

Who He is, we become.  Where He is, we dwell.  What He has, we inherit.  What He’s done, we possess.  We are one with Jesus and He is one with the Father.  Therefore it really is true what  He says “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.”

Is this the reality you dwell upon day to day?  Jesus tells us, 10 times in 7 verses to “abide” in Him.  We are to make our home in Jesus.  To remain in this love, this truth, this Vine, this Jesus.  A thousand things will distract us in our day.  A thousand competing abodes will offer a sense of security and identity.  But none of them compare to Christ.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit.  (John 15:4-5)

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