1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
The context for this metaphor of the vine and branches is Jesus’ announcement of a paradigm shift from the age of Christ to the economy of the church and the Holy Spirit. Now Jesus declared the implications of His return to glory and how the apostles and others were to handle themselves as believers in the new economy. The “true vine” depiction shows believers a new protocol for fellowship with Jesus while He is physically absent. Jesus designed everything in this presentation for believers, not unbelievers.
Vineyards were everywhere in Israel in the time of Jesus. It is important to remember when interpreting an analogy such as the “vine,” “vinedresser,” and “branches,” that we do not press the analogy or metaphor too far but keep the central thought in view. It would be very easy in interpreting this analogy to overly expound the central thought.
The metaphor in John 15 is a mashal or allegory. Jesus presented Himself in 15:1-10 as the “true vine.” In verses 1-8 we have an extended metaphor, but 9-16 is a commentary on the metaphor. This chapter is not about salvation but fruit bearing.
Those who follow Jesus must have a proper relationship to three categories:
to Jesus (15:1-10)
to each other (15:11-17)
to the world (15:18-16:4)
1 “I am the true [authentic] vine [literally; the vine, the true one],
This is the last of the seven “I am” claims of Jesus in the gospel. The word “true” means genuine. Jesus previously referred to Himself in John as the “true light” (Jn 1:9) and the “true bread” (Jn 6:32). He was also the “true tabernacle” (He 8:2). He was not like the temporary manna or the tabernacle of the Old Testament because they disappeared. Jesus is the eternally real or genuine One. Neither was Jesus like a temporary grape stalk, but He would genuinely provide the sap of eternal life and sustenance for living. He was the staff of life itself.
The word “true” calls attention to false vines such as unfaithful Israel (Jer 2:21). Every other person claiming to be a source of eternal life is a faker.
The “vine” to which Jesus’ referred here was the grape vine. In the Old Testament God viewed Israel as His choice vine (Ps 80:8; Is 5:1-7; Jer 2:2; 6:9; Ezek 15; 17:5-10; 19:10-14; Hos 10:1; 14:8). However, the nation Israel failed as a vine to produced fruit. All Old Testament passages that use this analogy show Israel as faithless to the Lord and disciplined as a nation by God.
Jesus is the “true” vine because He is true life flowing in the branches. He imparts genuine eternal life. He was no animal substitute but the genuine sacrifice.
All service to the Lord depends on vital connection between Christ and His own.
Our oneness with Christ—our relationship with Him—is the source of fruitfulness. Divine fruit can come only from Christ. Believers maintain their production by constant connection to their Lord. It is that vital communion with Him that helps the Christian to do what he could not otherwise do.
The organic connection between the vine and branches is an analogy of fellowship between Jesus and His followers.