What Does It Mean That Jesus is The Vine?

Have you ever wondered what the vine and the branches are in the Bible, or what it means that Jesus is the Vine? At first glance, we can get confused when reading through this passage.

So let’s explore these words spoken to Jesus’ disciples on the night He was betrayed.  Let’s learn more about the meaning of the vine and the branches so that we can understand how to bear fruit for God, and how Jesus is the vine in this parable. 

The Vine And The Branches 

This passage gives a good explanation of bearing fruit. The conversation that took place between Jesus and His disciples on that night fills five chapters of the Gospel of John. 

This particular portion of that conversation is spoken by Jesus Christ to his disciples just after the Last Supper and just before arriving at the Garden of Gethsemane. 

The Passover Supper was the last time all twelve of the disciples were together with Jesus before His crucifixion. He had so much to tell them, and although they didn’t understand much of it until much later, it all came clear to them as time went on. 

Eventually, they were able to make sense of it all: Why Jesus came, how Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, what His role in God’s timeline was, and how the disciples themselves fit into that timeline. 

Jesus’ parable Of The Vine And The Branches is recorded in John 15:1-8: 

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 

These verses speak of the roles of God the Father, Jesus the Son, and we the believers, in the bearing of fruit for the Kingdom. Jesus is the vine, under the care of God the Father, represented by the vinedresser in the parable. Believers are the branches, attached to and nourished by the vine, Jesus. 

We are told that the way to bear fruit is to abide in Christ, that is, to stay fully connected to the vine. He also addresses asking in prayer and answered prayer, and tells us how God is glorified in all of this. 

This short piece tells us where we, His followers, actually fit into His plan. Yep, how cool is that? We (all believers) have a part in bearing fruit for God: that is, doing His work – the work he has given us to do –  in our everyday lives. 

Now, let’s break the passage down a bit more as we read about the true vine and the branches: 

The Metaphor Of The Vine

The Vine And Branches parable was told after Judas exited following the exposure of his evil intentions.

Jesus told the disciples that the Holy Spirit would come to teach them and help them remember all the things He was telling them.  

He then said that the ‘ruler of the world’ was coming but that Satan had no claim on Him because He (Jesus) would do whatever God told Him to do so that the whole world would know of His love for His Father. 

Then Jesus says, abruptly, it seems, “Rise, let us go from here.” The rest of the conversation may have even taken place as they walked along the street or the road, or when they arrived at the Garden Of Gethsemane. 

For another Biblical metaphor of Jesus, read Jesus Is The Light Of The World.

John 15:1-2 on background of grapes on vine - Jesus is the Vine

Verse 1: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” 

Verse 2: “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

A vinedresser is a winegrower, a master gardener of grapes. He oversees the planting, tending, and growing of the grapes in the vineyard, to make them the best grapes for the wine they would be used in. 

So Jesus is clarifying that He Himself can be compared to the main vine of a grape plant. This is how we know that Jesus is the main vine. This true grapevine is tended by His Father, God, the master gardener. 

From the main vine grow the individual fruit-bearing branches that take their nourishment from the main vine that is Jesus. The branches of the vine refer to all followers or disciples who are part of the body of Christ. 

Bearing fruit compares the bearing of grapes with producing fruit in a human way. To bear is to bring forth or to produce. Producing in terms of God’s Kingdom is far different than producing as in manufacturing or making something. The conversation in verses 1-8 is showing us the difference. Let’s read on to find it. 

One of two things happens to each type of branch: Either it is taken away because it is not bearing fruit, or it is pruned in order to bear more fruit. In other words, the branches are either non-productive or productive, useless or useful. 

Remember that this story is told on the evening that the Last Supper took place. Judas had already been exposed as a betrayer, and we later find out that when he left he went to complete his evil deed. Jesus may have been comparing Judas to a useless branch and His true followers, the remaining eleven disciples, to the branches that still needed some pruning but would eventually bear good fruit.

God knows the future, and the hearts and minds of everyone and He knows the significance of these unfruitful branches that must be taken away from the vine. They are those who are close enough that they could take their nourishment and sustenance from Him, but for some reason choose not to. 

He also knows which ones are capable of bearing fruit and which need to be strengthened and revitalized by pruning. 

It’s not up to us to second-guess what God defines as bearing fruit or not bearing fruit. We must trust His wisdom and timing in these things. When we see a failure, He may see a pruning. When He takes something away, it may be because He knows it was never going to bear any good fruit. 

How To Bear Fruit As A Christian

In these verses, Jesus is speaking to His disciples, His inner circle. He has been instructing them all along their journey together with the perfect information and amount of it. He knows that they will be able to put it to use in the near future, actually right after this Passover night is over, because He is well aware that His short time as a man on earth is coming to a close. Jesus’ words are blunt and to the point for this very reason. 

John 15:3-4 background of grapes on vine - Jesus is the Vine

Verse 3: “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.” 

Verse 4: “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

Jesus knew that His true disciples were cleansed by the Word through hearing, believing, and obeying it, as all true believers are. 

The New Living Translation states verse 3 like this: “You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.”  So here, Jesus is assuring the eleven remaining disciples that they are all cleansed and purified by His Word. 

Look at Ephesians 5:26-27 in the ESV “…that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.” 

This Ephesians passage is speaking of the cleansing of the church with the Word. We are sanctified by the Word, clean like having been washed with water, ready to be presented in splendor. 

Verse 4 uses the word abide, which means “to continue to be present”. The branches that were abiding in the vine, which is Jesus, were continually attached. being nourished and sustained by the vine. When Christians abide, we are making a choice to be present, depending on the nourishing vine of Christ to sustain us. 

Jesus reminds us here that we can’t succeed in the work we are given (fruit bearing) in the Christian life, without this divine nourishment. We are unable to bear fruit by ourselves, without abiding (being continually present) in Christ. 

Self-sufficiency will do us no good; ambition will not make us bear fruit. The only way to bear spiritual fruit is to be connected, present, and continually attached to Jesus, our true source of life. 

The Dead Branches Are Thrown Into The Fire

John 15:5-6 background of grapes on vine - Jesus is the Vine

Verse 5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”

Verse 6: “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”

These two verses contrast abiding and non-abiding branches. Verse 5 reviews and reinforces that without Jesus, the vine, we are ineffective for the Kingdom and can accomplish nothing in terms of bearing fruit. 

Now we will look a little deeper at the Biblical meaning of bearing fruit. This concept can be best explained by the Bible itself in the following verses:

Colossians 1:10-11 – “…so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy;”

Matthew 7:16-17 – “You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes or figs from thistles?”

Matthew 23:27-28 – “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

Romans 12:2 – “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

Proverbs 31 Woman 30-Day bible Reading Plan

Verse 6 of John 15 describes what happens to the branches that are removed. They are thrown out, they wither, they are gathered, and burned in the fire. This description of what becomes of them tells us that they were dangerous to the vine and to the other branches, so much so that they needed to be destroyed by fire. 

To explain further, our only hope as a fruit-bearing branch in the faith is to remain closely connected to Christ Jesus. Otherwise, it’s death in the fire for us. The following Bible verses verify this concept, and the fate of such branches:

Luke 19:26- “I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”

Matthew 7:22-23 – ” On that day many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'”

Proverbs 14:12 – “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death.”

Jesus Is The Vine, And Our Nourishment For Bearing Fruit

John 15:7-8 background of grapes on vine - Jesus is the Vine

Verse 7: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Verse 8: “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

Verse 7 is sometimes misunderstood. Again, abiding is not something that’s done on the outside only. When we abide in Christ, our hearts are sincere and we are in close relationship with Him. Genuine believers in abiding closeness, are seeking God’s will at all times, because they want what God wants.

Therefore, a genuinely abiding Christian asks the will of God. We don’t have to wonder what God’s will is – just open your Bible, and in reading it you will unearth the will of God. We can always count on God answering heartfelt prayer from an abider who wants and asks for God’s will to be done. 

And our final verse in this study, verse 8, completes the circle: When we abide in Jesus and He in us, we then bear much fruit. It is our rich fruit-bearing in turn that glorifies God, and it is then that we prove to be His disciples. This cycle goes around and around, as we abide, bear fruit, and glorify God, which shows that we truly are His disciples. 

Our highest purpose in life, as Christians, is to glorify God. Here’s what the Bible tells us: 

1 Corinthians 10:31 – “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 

Isaiah 43:7 (New Living Translation) – “Bring all who claim me as their God, for I have made them for my glory It was I who created them.”

When God tells us to do something, He makes us able to do it. This is the example given in this passage of John 15:1-8, of the vine and the branches. He tells us to bear fruit, then when we obey and abide in Christ, He feeds us from the vine, and enables us to bear much fruit. 

Final Summary: The Meaning Of Bearing Fruit

Remember the context of this passage – that it was an important lesson taught by Jesus on the night of the Passover, after the Last Supper, and after Judas had departed to go and betray Him. 

Did you notice the references to an increasing amount of fruit? Verse 2 says this: “every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. And verses 5, “he it is that bears much fruit“. Likewise, verse 8 states, “that you bear much fruit“.

God is patient in teaching us to bear fruit, and He equips us to bear more fruit, and even to bear much fruit. This is an ever-increasing principle that brings ever-increasing glory to God and blessing to us. 

Let’s take one more look at the “branches” that didn’t pass muster. In their hearts, they were not abiding in Christ. They were already dead branches, even detrimental to the rest. They were impostors, useless and infected, and they had to be burned, so as not to infect the rest. 

God knows the thoughts and intentions of each person’s heart. He knows whether we will produce fruit or be fruitless branches. Just as the branches of a vine are in the hands of the vinedresser, we, as branches of the true vine, are in the hands of our Master gardener, God. 

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