The Vine – Word Nerd Wednesday

I’m excited to have Alyson @ Write Them On My heart sharing with us about this week’s Word Nerd Wednesday Name for God: The Vine.

Everyone loves a good metaphor, right? 

Even Jesus!

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. “

John 15:1 (ESV)

Metaphors are frequently used to add another layer of thinking that helps us understand, as well as remember, a certain point. 

Since this is Jesus Christ our Lord speaking, let’s take special care to understand His point.

Will we find this to be more than a metaphor?

Let’s dive in.

Biblical Definition of The Vine

The word “vine” in this verse is Strong’s G288: ampelos. The definition is: grapevine. 

Wait. That’s it? No hidden nuances to discover?

Not this time. (But stick around.) 

In fact, ampelos is used as a literal, ordinary grapevine in Matthew 26:29, Mark 14:25, and James 3:12.

Jesus’ Use of Metaphor Not Ordinary

But in John 15, Jesus uses the word “vine” figuratively – and it is anything but ordinary.

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”

John 15:4-5 (NASB)

So let’s picture it – an enchanting, vibrant vineyard where Jesus is the flourishing Vine and His Father is the Master Gardener. We are each a thriving branch growing on the Vine, bursting with luscious grapes in healthy clusters.  

God made us to produce fruit – and lots of it.

“My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.”

John 15:8 (NASB)

Notice how several verses describe it as “much” fruit while verse 8 explains that all this fruit glorifies God and proves that we are disciples of Jesus.

That’s a pretty tall order for our fruit.

How can we produce that kind of extra-special fruit?

Well, it turns out that that’s not exactly the right question to ask.

You see, verses 4 and 5 explain that we can’t do it.   

Branches can do nothing without the Vine.

Nothing. 

In the Greek, this statement is a double negative, making it very emphatic – “nothing whatsoever.” There is no other option. 

So if we can’t produce fruit, what does the verse say we can do?

We can stop focusing on what we can or cannot do and focus on Jesus. 

We can abide. 

The word “abide” in this verse is Strong’s G3306: meno. The definition is: to stay (in a given place, state, relation or expectancy):—abide, continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry (for). 

We can stay. 

We can dwell. 

We can tarry. 

Let’s stop for a second and ponder how long we stay and tarry with Jesus each day. How many of our 24 hours are devoted to Him? 

1 Thessalonians 5:17 (ESV): pray without ceasing,

Do we long to spend more time with Him? 

That’s what abiding in the Vine is all about.

Some Bible versions use the word “remain” instead of “abide” in verses 4 and 5. But when I see all those nuances of the definition – like dwell, endure, and be present – I personally think “abide” paints a more descriptive picture of the Greek meaning. Don’t you?

Case in point: in our modern-day lingo, I might remain at church a little longer but not necessarily be present while doing that. 

Which brings me to another question.

Am I fully present when I dwell in the Vine? 

I suspect that abiding is not even abiding if we aren’t fully present.

Hopefully, we desire to abide in the Vine more than anything, because …

“If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

John 15:6-7 (ESV)

“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.”

John 15:2 (ESV)

Bearing fruit is not optional for us branches.

But again, we can’t do it – no matter how hard we try. Don’t you find that interesting?

God made us unable to produce the mandatory fruit – unless we completely depend on fellowship with Him.

A vine is the source of life for its branches. It provides the water and nutrients needed to produce fruit. Without the vine, no fruit would ever result. 

Which makes today’s verse an ideal metaphor.

We branches have no life within ourselves. We are sustained only by remaining attached to our Vine.

This got me thinking. Why do we try to produce fruit on our own anyway? What makes us think that’s even possible?

Probably because we lean toward self-centeredness. 

And our culture doesn’t help. Neither does the enemy, who takes every opportunity to lure us into spending more time in our culture than we do in Christ. 

But Jesus was clear. 

His statement was much more than a metaphor. 

It was the key to life. 

And not just average life – but abundant life.

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

John 15:11 (ESV)

Abiding in the Vine is the not-so-secret to joy!

So let’s forget about striving in our own power and replace it with abiding in Jesus. 

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

John 3:30 (ESV)

Let’s acknowledge that we can’t be sufficient in ourselves. 

Let’s commit to live like it. Spend our time like it. 

Tarry in the Vine. 

Humble ourselves like an abiding branch.

Pray like an abiding branch … “Jesus, live in and through me.”

It’s how our Vinedresser designed us to live.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Galatians 2:20 (ESV)
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Alyson Write Them on My Heart Word Nerd Wednesday The Vine
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Write Them on My Heart

Meet Alyson

Alyson at WriteThemOnMyHeart.com is an ordinary wife, mom, and Nonna on a mission to help you surround your heart and home with God’s Word. She is a Bible digger and hand-letterer who shares tons of hand-painted free printables. She is also a reader who shares detailed book reviews and a life-long student who shares what God is teaching her through His Word.

Word Nerd Wednesday The Vine

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