By Apostle Aje Pelser, Harvester Reformational Church, Cape Town
20th December 2017
Considerations of the Vine and His Branches
Jesus was speaking to his disciples at a critical moment in his life and ministry. He was setting the stage for the next successive harvests of fruit from the lives of his disciples. In leadership, there is a moment when you describe how to succeed to those who have been faithful and loyal through thick and thin. This is the moment of truth when the inner core values of the vine are being revealed to the branches who have allowed themselves to be cleansed and pruned by the vinedresser, and who have accepted the words of the Vine and His commandments. Jesus now reveals Himself to them as the One and Only true vine in contradistinction to anyone else. And He also reveals the Vinedresser – the tiller of the soil as the one translation puts it.
There are 3 Hebrew words describing a vine: (Jer 2:21/Lev 25:5)
1. Gephen – twining
2. Sorek – a type of berry wine, noble wine
3. Nazir – a vine that has never been pruned to bear better fruit. (From Apostle Andre Pelser’s Sermon Notes on the Vine.)
Here are some considerations of the Vine that will build a leadership team around Jesus the Vine revealing much fruit.
Identify the True Vine
Jesus reveals Himself as the True Vine, the One and Only, in contradistinction to all others. People tend to get grafted into all sorts of philosophies that seem successful, trendy, modern, and popular. We have learnt that the blessings of the Lord makes rich and add no sorrow to it. If it is not the Lord’s blessing I do not want it. God will show you. Being connected to the Vine Himself is a direct line to the life giving water and root system of the established Vine.
Joh 15:2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
The Father is the Vinedresser. But you need to receive the father and how He prunes and cleanses you. It is evident in the lives of people who bear fruit – they have allowed the vinedresser the necessary access into their thinking and behaviour. There is a discipline and willingness to yield to God. A fear and reverence of God and His high Way.
I have witnessed pruning in the Citrus region of the Western Cape, and a large portion of the tree is pruned for the following year otherwise the branches will break under the weight of new fruit. It is for your safety and quality of fruit that the vinedresser prunes you – if you see correction as coaching to improve what you are doing for God you will welcome it. Don’t see correction as rejection. Thank the Lord that God is using people to prune things in your life and that they are obedient and loving enough to tell you how to improve! If this is done in the spirit of gentleness, with the understanding that we all need to constantly improve what we are doing, then it is more bearable.
Jesus was speaking to his disciples. Disciples are disciplined ones.
Men who left all to follow Jesus. Those who decided to deny themselves, take up their cross and follow Him, the true Vine.
Wuest’s translation has: “My Father is the tiller of the soil”. The soil speaks of our hearts.
If you allow scripture to interpret scripture from Matthew 13, we learn about soil and understand that it speaks about how receptive our hearts are to the seed of the Word.
Words of the Vine Cleanse
Joh 15:3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
Jesus’ disciples had already been baptized. Later he washed their feet:
Joh 13:10 Jesus said to him, "He who is bathed needs only to wash his feet, but is completely clean; and you are clean,
Bathing is like baptism which means to make whelmed with water – totally in!
We pick up dirt on the road of life. Foot washing is something Jesus showed his disciples than can be done literally and spiritually. Serving those entrusted in our care is also foot washing. We have also physically washed many people’s feet.
Dr Gray told the students at Miracle Valley Bible College one day: “Wash the feet of the person you like least in the class.”
The thing about Jesus’ washing feet is that he put on a servant’s towel and that is tied to the waist. So he had to kneel in order to wash feet and dry them off.
Jesus is the Word of God and as we share His Word we wash ourselves and those who listen to us.
In Ephesians Apostle Paul explains:
Eph 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,
Eph 5:26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,
Eph 5:27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.
Maintain a Living Communion with Jesus the Vine
Joh 15:4 Abide in Me, and I in you.
A living communion bears much fruit, without a living communion with the vine, a branch can do nothing. A fruit bearing branch brings glory to the Father, the Vinedresser. It shows that the branch has received the pruning and is able to grow and tap into the life giving source of the Vine.
We have nothing within ourselves as a source of life – but tapping into the Vine allows our fruit to grow.
Jesus said people will know His disciples by their fruit – this is a sign that they are maintaining a living communion with Jesus. People saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized they had been with Jesus. People will know you by your love for one another.
Fruitless Branches are burnt in the Fire
Personally, let God remove the fruitless things in your life and let His fire purge it. Jesus baptizes with the Holy Spirit and with fire. This is also true for a local church where people do not bear fruit year after year, causing damage to the congregation with their behaviour and stubborn refusal to maintain a living communion with the Vine and other branches!
Stay in the Sphere of His Love
The Branches can remain in the sphere of God’s love that we see in the Vine. The greater love of Jesus that is willing to lay down His life for his friends.
Friendship in Christ is keeping his words and commands. That is how we stay in the sphere of God’s love – keeping His word and acting it out by His Spirit daily. It is actually quite simple: let the Holy Spirit remind you of His Word in every situation. At first this is a conscious decision and you pray in tongues. Eventually it becomes an automatic lifestyle led by the Spirit and Romans 8:14 teaches us that is a characteristic of the sons and daughters of God.
Benefits of Abiding in the Vine
1. If you ask anything you desire in HIs name it shall be done for you.
2. God is glorified when you bear much fruit.
3. Abide in His Love
4. Your joy will remain and be full.
5. Friendship with Jesus and others.
6. Access to His commands and the secrets of the Father.
7. Appointed to bear fruit that remains.