I am the true vine, and my Father is the farmer.
I. CHRIST AS THE TRUE VINE. We have here:
1. The idea of an importation. It is a foreign vine, and not indigenous to this soil; for it is the "true Vine," and whatever is absolutely true must come from the other side, from the sphere where all is absolutely true and real. This world lost its truth when it severed itself by sin from heaven. Then this plant withered, and would not grow; but God left not the earth, but opened a new communication between it and heaven, and proceeded to create a new earth and a new heaven, and make all things new, a new life, a new vine, a new man - the germ of a new and true vegetation altogether. Jesus. as the true Vine, is evidently not entirely the produce of this world, but the produce of another clime and a Diviner Soil; but still the produce of a Diviner soil is transplanted and wedded to this, so as to make it most natural and real. "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." The Divine vine was planted in the soil of humanity, so as to make it true, whether looked upon from the Divine or human point of view.
2. The fulfillment era natural symbol.
(1) Nature is full of Divine symbolism. In the mineral kingdom there are the pearl, the rock, and the stone; in the animal kingdom there are the lion and the lamb; in the material kingdom there are the stars and the sun: and in the vegetable kingdom there are the rose, the lily, and the vine. Judaism was a system of Divine symbolism, and shadows of good things to come; but there is an older, more original and permanent system of Divine symbolism than this - the system of nature, which is full and vital of Divine ideas, images, and shadows.
(2) Christ is the Fulfillment of all this. He is the Pearl of great price, the precious Stone, and the Rock of ages. He is the Star of Jacob and the Sun of Righteousness; the Lion of the tribe of Judah and the Lamb of God; the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the valleys, and the true Vine. He is the Truth of everything in nature which has in it the shadow of truth. He is the Truth of the vine. In him the natural vine finds the fulfillment of its prophecies - its highest meaning and Divinest significance.
(3) He is the real, and the only real, Fulfillment of this. Others tried, but failed. Israel, under the great Husbandman, had a trial. It was a vine, but failed to interpret and embody the vine-ideal - failed to speak the vine-language, and failed to live the vine-life. The vine still cried for a truer fulfillment and interpretation. Christ came and said, "I am the true Vine," and his Person, life, and history fully confirm his claim. The vine is satisfied and highly honored.
(1) This was his most distinguishing feature. The vine is a most fruitful plant. Its wood is not of much value. Apart from its fruition, it is insignificant; but its fruitfulness is marvelous. Think of Christ as Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter's Son; he appears as a. root out of a dry ground, without form or comeliness. But his glory was in his fruitfulness. He lived, not for himself, but for others - for God, for man, and for the universe.
(2) Fruitfulness of the highest kind and most satisfying nature. His fruit was Divine and spiritual, satisfying the spiritual nature of man. In this the natural vine is incomplete, and, compared with Christ, false; for nothing is absolutely true in relation to man which does not supply and satisfy the whole of his being. The vine can only partly supply and satisfy man's physical nature and wants; but Christ, in his vicarious life and death, satisfies his spiritual nature, and develops it into final perfection.
(3) Fruitfulness of the highest kind and most satisfying nature in abundance. Think of his earthly life in relation to God; in it was perfectly manifested obedience, filial love, and submission to the Divine will in all things. Think of his life in relation to men with whom he had to do; his. whole human life, from the cradle to the grave, was full of grace and truth - full of gracious words and mighty and benevolent deeds. Think of his representative and official life as the Author of salvation. As a Prophet, he shed Divine light on all subjects pertaining to God and man which are essential to his spiritual advancement and happiness. As a King, he reigned with authority, yet with equity and mercy within and in perfect harmony with the laws of the soul and those of God. And as a High Priest, he offered himself as an infinite atoning Sacrifice for the sins of the world. With this justice was satisfied, the Law honored, and all the Divine attributes crowned with glory and harmony; while the vilest of sinners plucked from the branches of the true Vine rich clusters - of pardon, justification, sanctification, spiritual life, as well as every reviving and comforting grace. And there is abundance for all.
(4) Fruitfulness which makes all connected with him fruitful. The vine is a propagating and diffusive plant, and sends its branches forth on the right and left. It is difficult to know how many branches even a single stalk, by proper dressing and cultivation, is capable of supporting and making fruitful. Jesus, the true Vine, has sufficient life and sap to incorporate in himself, by faith, all the human family, and make them spiritually alive and fruitful. He sends forth his branches to every part of the globe; and they climb up and creep even over the wails of the heavenly city, and drop there their rich clusters of fruit.
II. THE FATHER AS THE HUSBANDMAN. "And my Father," etc. We have here:
1. Divine ownership. The husbandman is not always the owner of the vine; but in this case he is. He is the Owner and the Husbandman. Christ, the true Vine, confesses this with delight. The Vine owns the branches and the fruit; but the Divine Husbandman owns the Vine altogether. "We are Christ's but Christ is God's."
2. Divine and closest relationship. "My Father," etc. There is more than mere ownership here - the closest and dearest relationship. The Son and the Father are one, in nature, essence, life, purposes, and will; so that between Jesus as the Vine and his Father as the Husbandman there is the closest unity, and a relationship which cannot exist in any other 'husbandry.
3. Divine cultivation. Much depends upon proper cultivation with regard to the prosperity and fruition of the vine. This requires a good husbandman. If left to itself, undressed and uncultivated, deterioration and even barrenness will soon follow. The "true Vine" will not suffer on this account; it has not been left to strangers and to the fortunes of mere self-interest, but is under the constant and tender and most efficient care of the Divine Father. No one knows but Christ himself what he owes, in his mediatorial life and work, to the Father; to him he attributes his all - his life, his success, his support, triumph, and glory. He refers here to his union with the Father as a most important fact. "My Father is the Husbandman." The true Vine has a true Husbandman; this will ensure for the Vine and the branches the highest cultivation and the most glorious results. - B.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.