“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1
The vine is a life-giving imagery that crosses cultures effortlessly. Nourishment and stability pulse through the vine into all the branches; no living branch exists unless it is connected to the vine. Our Lord calls himself the vine; as his disciples we are an extension of him, designed to produce good fruit for his great glory.
Jesus teaches that the vinedresser tends the vine, minding, clipping, and nurturing it. In revealing this title for his Father, the Son permits us to see something of their intimate connection. The Father carefully inspects the branches extending from the vine. He is at once attentive and tender, mindful of what it takes for the branches to be healthy. The Father is intentional, aware of which branches are producing fruit and which ones are bare. His hands rest on the vine, his fingers touch the branches. His eyes are on both.
Love is the life-line extending directly from the vinedresser to the vine. Concurrently, love permeates the vine and spreads out to all the branches. Jesus tells us, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love” (John 15:9-10). As his branches we are to remain connected to Christ to experience his perfect, unconditional love, the measureless kind, the love the Father showers on the Son.
Sometimes God calls us his “children.” Sometimes “followers,” “salt,” or “light.” But in this passage, we are branches with a specific purpose: “By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8). The true vine always bring glory to his Father. As his branches we are designed to do the same.
Elizabeth Karram Mitchell