5a I am the vine, ye are the branches.
First and foremost, we need to observe the sharp distinction that Christ has drawn between the vine and the branches. The branches are not to be confused with the vine, and the vine is to be regarded as very different from the branches. Likewise, the words, “I am” and “ye are” also point to the contrast that Christ wanted us to take note of.
Though there is a firm connection between the vine and the branches, they are never to be considered the same in essence and function. The “branches” can never be the “vine”. There is an absolute necessity for the branches to acknowledge their dependence on the vine. Branches cannot live or function without the vine.
Christ is the vine and believers are the branches. The branches should never assume themselves to be the vine. It is satanic to blur or disregard this very significant distinction that Christ has made here. Ignoring this distinction that Christ has drawn between the believers and Himself is tantamount to Eve’s error when she yielded to Satan’s lie that “ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5)!
There should not be any confusion or doubt regarding the fact that we are only the branches, while only Christ is the vine. To humbly acknowledge our inability to exist as the branches without the vine is an important step to spiritual growth and fruitfulness. Only then shall we see the necessity to abide in Him always, and appreciate and appropriate that vital union which Christ has offered to us.
Secondly, it is important to note that these words of Christ, which emphasise the distinction between the vine and the branches, also affirm the relationship that exists between them. He assuredly says to all those who genuinely trust in Him that they are to Him like the branches which are joined to the vine. Here the Lord portrays a picture of a firm and abiding union between His people and Him.
The Lord is most delighted to encourage us to abide in Him, so that we may be nourished with His love, grace, wisdom and strength. It is His utmost pleasure that we abide in Him and grow as fruit-bearing branches. He does not want us to be like the withering branches. Let us joyfully yield ourselves to abide in the Lord, just as the branches that abide in the vine.