John 15:1 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.
In John 15 Jesus is slowly moving to the Garden of Gethsemane. They have partaken of the “last supper” and Jesus is methodically moving to the place He would spend some time in prayer prior to His arrest.
In verse 1 He refers to Himself as the vine. Jesus Christ is the life. God the Father is the owner of the vineyard. Jesus could be building on another text found in Isaiah 5 where God referred to the nation of Israel as the vine. In that vineyard, God placed the “choicest vine” which is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. The nation of Israel rejected God’s way and thus they produced wild grapes, rather than good grapes. In our text, Jesus reminded the disciples that He is the true vine.
It is important to note that distinction that Jesus made to the “true vine”. In His day, the Pharisees, Sadducees, the lawyers and Herodians all tried to present themselves as true servants of God. They were the false vines and they could not produce good fruit. However, as we see in our text, God the Father expects good fruit from His vineyard. Those who are connected to the “Vine” must produce good fruit.
In verse 2 Jesus spoke of the branches of the vine. The branches are the saved people. God saves people for a very important purpose. He saves people to produce fruit. There cannot be closet Christians. I have spoken with individuals who claim to be saved, but show no evidence of salvation. Some of them have stated that they do not boast about their salvation. No one needs to boast about their salvation. Saved people will praise and glorify the God that saved them. They will testify of His greatness and goodness. Their changed lives will testify to that reality.
As we have noted in other devotionals, a saved person has been given a new heart by God. There are those who are saved who are carnal, and there are those who will enter heaven though as by fire. They will not be rewarded for their careless and carnal ways. Paul addressed the carnal nature of the saints in Corinth. God was not pleased with them and Paul was called upon to address their sin. They needed to repent and behave themselves as the saints that they were.
God is in charge of the pruning of the vine. He knows those who are saved, and He knows what their capabilities are as saved people. He enables every saved person to serve Him. Each has their own particular calling, but all are called to bear fruit.
In a vineyard, the husbandman will note the progress of the vine as he works with it. He will cut out the dead branches. He will also cut out those that are just running along but have no fruit on them. He will make room for other branches that are setting on fruit as they grow. A vineyard is not just a pretty bush. It is designed to produce fruit.
Jesus used this illustration to speak of saved people. This is not talking of someone losing their salvation. Jesus did not leave heaven’s glory and come to this earth and take on the form of a servant obedient unto death so that those who trust in Him could just sit idly by, waiting for heaven. Jesus came to save sinners. Those who are saved are saved to produce fruit. We have noted that in Ephesians 2:10 before. In Philippians 1:6-7 we read:
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
7 Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defence and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace.
Salvation is the work of God. It is not the final work. The day of salvation begins the eternal life of the recipient. There is a need for growth and training for the duration of the person’s life on earth. God is capable of completing what He starts. He works in every one of His children through the Holy Spirit and through His Word. He enlists the service of evangelists, pastors and teachers in this work as well. God expects results according to His will.
As Jesus teaches here, those who are saved, but do not bring forth fruit will be removed. The timing of this is in God’s hands. Those who are producing fruit will be pruned so that they can bring forth more fruit. Every good husbandman wants to get the most out of his vineyard. He did not plant it for decorations. He planted it to provide the necessary income he needs.
In the spiritual sense, Christians are expected to produce fruit. The fruit spoken of here is that of glorifying God.
I Corinthians 3:6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.
As we see, God is in charge of the increase. Paul was producing fruit in planting. Apollos was producing fruit in watering, and God honoured the genuine work of both of these men and souls were saved and saints were strengthened.
There are those in our world who are as the Pharisees of old. They are false teachers and they gain a following. They talk about Jesus and they talk about heaven. However, their Jesus is a false Jesus. Their heaven is of their own imagination. Their followers are deceived individuals who are proud of their self-effort. These are not part of the vine Jesus is speaking of. They are not in the vineyard of the Father.
God’s vineyard will produce fruit because the branches are connected to the Vine. Those branches that do not produce fruit are still saved, but disobedient. They will be removed from this earth. They do not lose their salvation. That is an impossibility. God makes that abundantly clear in His Word.
In verse 3 Jesus encouraged the disciples with the fact that they were clean through the Word which He had spoken to them. Judas Iscariot is not here with them. He has already left for his evil deed. Thus Jesus can make this statement.
In John 13:10 Jesus needed to qualify His statement regarding their spiritual cleanliness. He stated there that they were not all clean. Here He could say they were all clean. They were clean through faith in the Word that He had spoken unto them.
We see the importance of the Word of God here. In Psalm 119:9 God directed the Psalmist to write of the importance of God’s Word in cleansing the person. In Romans 1:16 Paul wrote of the power of the Gospel of Christ to save sinners. In Hebrews 4:12 Paul was directed to write about the power of God’s Word to affect the heart of the hearer.
Not all who hear will be cleansed through the Word of God. Judas rejected the truth and was never saved. His rejection was not the result of a powerless Word. His rejection was due to his wicked heart. He refused to be saved, even though he witnessed all the evidence the other disciples had. He heard the same teaching, but did not allow it to benefit him. He lost out.
The Pharisees and their “kind” also heard the Word but they rejected it. They chose to miss out on the truth and they know better today, but it is too late for them.
Jesus Christ came to save sinners. He came that all might have the opportunity to be saved. Those who reject His Word, cannot be saved. There is no other Saviour.
The context of John 15 is to the saved. We will continue to look at this in the days ahead.