The True Vine.
SUMMARY.--The Vine and the Branches. Bearing Fruit. Glorifying the Father. The Greatest Love. The World's Hatred. The Cloak for Sin.
1. I am the true vine. The scene must be kept in mind. The Lord and his disciples had just eaten the last supper. He had said, "Arise, let us go hence" ( 14:31 ). They had risen, but were still standing in the room. On the table, from whence they had just risen, was the "fruit of the vine," and the Lord had said he would never drink it again upon the earth. In the Old Testament, the Vine is often used as the type of Israel, planted and tended by the Almighty as the husbandman. See Isa. 5:1 Psa 80:8-16 Jer. 2:21 . Israel, however, had proved a wild and fruitless Vine. Instead of it, therefore, Christ had now been planted by the Father as the True Vine.
2. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away. As the husbandman cuts off the unfruitful branches of the vine, so the Father severs the unfruitful branches from his Son. Judas, an unfruitful branch which did not have the life of the Vine, had just been severed and had gone forth. Every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it. The husbandman prunes and dresses the branches in order that they may be more healthy and fruitful. The Father cleanses, purifies, frees from sin, all who become branches of the True Vine.
3. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. The spoken word is the instrument appointed by God for the cleansing of the soul. The word tells us what to do in order that we may be cleansed from sin.
4. Abide in me, and I in you. The idea is, Abide in me that I may abide in you. Christ abiding in us is dependent on our abiding in him. We abide in him by keeping his words, or having his "word abide in us" ( verse 7 ), and all who "keep his sayings" ( 14:23 ) will have Christ abide in their souls. No more can ye, except ye abide in me. We are dead, fruitless branches, without the Christ-life. The whole history of the world demonstrates that fruitfulness is only found in union with Christ.
5. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He has already declared ( verse 1 ) that he is the True Vine, but he had not before declared that every disciple is a branch of the Vine. Observe that, not denominations, but church members, are the branches. The disciple, without Christ, can do nothing. Paul declared, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
6. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered. The lifeless, fruitless branches in the vineyard are lopped off and carried out, and wither and are burned. So, too, any one who does not abide in Christ, is severed from the Vine, and they (the angels at the great day; not men, as in the Common Version. See Revision) cast them into the fire and they are burned.
7, 8. Ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. The condition of this blessed promise is that we abide in the Vine, by having Christ's words abide in us. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit. The best comment on this is the Savior's injunction, "Let your light shine before men, that they, seeing your good works, shall glorify your Father who is in heaven."
10. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love. He abode in the love of the Father by a life of perfect obedience. So we must abide in his love.
11. These things have I spoken . . . that my joy may remain in you. Strange words, that one about to be crucified should speak of his joy! His joy was union with and presence of the Father. He had "anointed him with the oil of gladness above his fellows." He desired his disciples to have that joy, the constant consolation of the sense of the presence of Christ.
13, 14. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. The highest human exhibition of love that earth has ever seen was this. Christ was about to exhibit this highest type of human love by dying for his friends. He did even more, as Paul shows us in Rom. 5:6 , he died for his enemies, something that man had never done.
15. I call you not servants; . . . I have called you friends. Christ's disciples serve him, but their service is not bondage, but that of love. Hence, they are friends instead of servants.
16. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you. Each one of the eleven apostles present had been chosen, called, by the Lord, from among his disciples. They did not choose him, but he them, in order that they might bring forth abundant fruit in the conversion of the world.
18. If the world hate you. The world is the unregenerate portion of mankind. It hated and slew the Lord. It has never loved his disciples. Satan is its prince.
20. They will also persecute you. The servants must expect similar treatment to that given the Master. The long roll of Christian martyrs shows how this has been verified.
21. For my name's sake. That name, so sweet to the saved, is a hateful thing to his enemies. Jewish persecutors bade Christians to teach no more in the name; Gentile rulers bade them blaspheme the name or die.
22. If I had not come . . . they had not had sin. Certain conclusions follow: (1) The degree of our sin is measured by our opportunities; (2) increased opportunities bring a consciousness of sin; light in the room enables us to see the dirt; (3) the sin of sins is the rejection of Christ. Since he came there is no cloak, no covering, no excuse. Those who refuse Christ die in their sins, because they will not part from them.
24. If I had not done, etc. The proof of his divine mission was such that they were left without excuse. Hated both me and my Father. The Jews claimed to love God, but when God, manifest in the flesh, appeared, they hated him. The hatred of Christ is the hate of God.
27. Ye also shall bear witness. The apostles had been "with him from the beginning," and knew all the facts. If he was true, they knew it; if he stilled the waves and raised the dead, they knew it; if he rose from the tomb, they knew it. They bore witness to him by word and left their words to us. They bore witness by life, gave up all for him and died for their testimony. Such testimony is the strongest human testimony ever offered to any fact.