1I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
The metaphor “vine” that Jesus used to refer to Himself was not an unfamiliar one. Since the land of Israel abounded in vineyards, the illustration was very striking and comprehensible. Moreover, the Old Testament Scriptures on many occasions used “vine” as a metaphor for the nation of Israel. The Jewish people were referred to as God’s vineyard or God’s vine which He had planted (Isaiah 5:1-7; Psalm 80:8-16; Jeremiah 2:21; Ezekiel 19:10). In those passages, God was the Vinedresser who cared for the vine, Israel. So, Jesus was not introducing a new idea by using the metaphor of a vine and its branches.
But God’s vine, Israel, degenerated and bore no fruit. God, the Vinedresser, grieved over the tragedy of Israel’s fruitlessness. According to Jeremiah 2:21, the Lord God lamented Israel’s corruption, saying, “Yet I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed: how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a strange vine unto me?” Israel had forfeited its privilege as God’s vine to bear fruit for God’s glory.
No longer does blessing come through a covenantal relationship with Israel. Now there is a new vine, and it is the true vine. Jesus proclaimed that He is that “true vine”. Jesus used the word “true” to describe what is spiritually authentic, and thus eternal, heavenly, and divine.
The figure of a vine was chosen to depict a close, permanent, vital union between the vine and the branches. In the rest of John 15, Jesus referred to the believers as the “branches”. He said in John 15:5, “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.” Like the branches that depend on the vine for nourishment, support, strength and vitality, believers ought to completely and continually depend on Christ to bear spiritual fruit.
Many who claim to be Christians are fruitless because they fail to depend on Christ. Instead of being attached to the “true vine”, they are tied to a bank account, education, popularity, fame, personal skills, possessions, relationships, carnal pleasures, etc. But none of these things can sustain believers in their spiritual life in order to be fruitful.
The true vine is Christ, and we must live in Him to be always fruitful.