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Jesus, the True Vine

(John 15:1-17)

Lesson 11 -- second quarter 1999
May 16, 1999

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1999, Christian Light Publications

The grape branch struggled mightily to hold on to the four huge, tightly-packed clusters of grapes. That fruit emitted strong wafts of delicious aroma, and the look of the grapes seemed to insist on being picked and eaten. The branch could not hold back the self-confident satisfaction deep within the nuclei of each cell. It knew it was a grape branch. Appearance, fruit and chemical composition assured it of never being anything but a grape branch. Obviously the very best at that.

So the branch decided indulging in a little ungrape-like behavior would hurt nothing. "Once a grape branch, always a grape branch," it assured itself. It detached itself from the vine. No, it had neither intention nor desire to be anything less than a healthy, beautiful, productive grape branch. It just felt that submitting to the whims of the vine was no longer necessary. After all, its identity could never be changed!

Carefully moving down the vine so as not to disturb other branches or lose its own fruit, the branch found some nice receptive soil within a foot of the vine. Patiently and carefully it worked itself into the ground till it felt solidly anchored.

The other branches were aghast and worried. But the branch lacked no self-assurance. "Just look at me. I look just like you and feel just like you. Besides, my fruit is no different than yours. Don't challenge my experience. Do you not see that this works just fine for me?" And it closed each stomata in its leaves to the warnings and beseechings of the other branches...and of the vine.

Before long, though, the branch no longer felt strong and vigorous. In fact, it felt utterly drained and limp. Its grapes withered and dropped off. So did its leaves. Eventually it looked like a stick in the ground. Then it was broken up and all that remained of it were small particles of various nutrients to be absorbed by other plants.

The other branches, still attached to the vine and plentifully nourished by it, produced a bountiful harvest for the master of the vineyard. They saw that without the vine their comrade could do nothing. And as they looked at the bare spot of earth a scant foot away from the vine, they realized again that to continue as grape branches they needed to continue attached to the grape vine.

Jesus said we are the branches. Where do we see ourselves in my parable? God deliver us from self-deception, from indulging the notion that we can somehow accomplish what no other branch ever has--independence from the vine. A child, coming of age, can successfully move away from dependence on its parents. Don't let that truth fool you into thinking you can move away from the Vine and still thrive.

Without Him we can do nothing!

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