15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper. 2 He removes any of my branches that don’t produce fruit, and he trims any branch that produces fruit so that it will produce even more fruit. 3 You are already trimmed because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. A branch can’t produce fruit by itself, but must remain in the vine. Likewise, you can’t produce fruit unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, then you will produce much fruit. Without me, you can’t do anything. 6 If you don’t remain in me, you will be like a branch that is thrown out and dries up. Those branches are gathered up, thrown into a fire, and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified when you produce much fruit and in this way prove that you are my disciples.
Israel is the vine and God is the owner and caretaker – this is a longstanding symbol in the biblical tradition (Isa.5). When Jesus calls himself the “true vine” he is claiming to be the “true Israel,” the genuine people of God. It’s important to remember this in our individualistic culture. In the Bible it’s all about the community, the people, the church – Y’all (to put it in Southern) rather than you. And what is at stake in this reminder is what the Bible is all about anyway.
God’s intention in creation is to have a world of human creatures to live with him in loyalty and love, protecting and caretaking the creation he created for them. His intention in redeeming creation is the same. Israel and the church are the communities he has chosen to be prototypes of the people and world God intends and will have in the end. It’s that community and that divine intention that Jesus is talking about here in John 15.
Eight times in vv.4-8 Jesus uses the word “remain” (traditionally translated “abide). Eugene Peterson uses the imagery of “making one’s home in” to capture the meaning of this key verb. This is the way we become God’s presence (“glory”) and bear witness to his presence to the world (v.8) and the purposes he is pursuing with and through us.
What does “making one’s home” mean to you? To me it connotes
-belonging (where am I?)
-family (with whom am I?)
-identity (who am I?)
-mission (for what am I?)
“Home” is where I discover who I am, what it means to be human, with whom to associate, and what are the proper ends or goals of life. In human families this may be for better or worse. Jesus invites us, however, to make ourselves so “at home” in the life of the triune God that it is from them we imbibe all these things.
This “remaining” or “making our home in” in Jesus is the way God works to reclaim and restore his wayward creation and rebellious creatures to his original design. Home is where our hearts are, where and the people with whom we spend much of our time, and where we hold one another accountable in love for living out “the family” way.
Where do you “make your home”? Where do I? This is the question for us today!