St. Mary of the Angels
November 5, 2021
John 15:1: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.”
In referencing himself as the “true vine,” Christ Jesus is differentiating Himself from any other “vines.” The other “vines” can be lesser gods who are identified with a specific kingdom, ethnic tribe, or culture. Or they can be false prophets feeding their branches nutrients that cannot last into eternity. More importantly, He is identifying Himself as divine, for in God the truth is more than just a differentiation from falsehood. In God, truth is salvific, protective action on the part of God toward those who believe on Him. Hence, in the same verse Christ Jesus references the “husbandman,” who works on pruning that vine so that it best feeds the branches. So in Christ Jesus there is no point in referencing the vine without also referencing the work on, for, and by the vine. Who Christ Jesus is cannot be separated by what He and His Father do.
See Psalm 145:18: “The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him, to all them that call upon Him in truth.” To pursue the truth is to be closer to God, and when God is closer to those calling upon Him, then God saves and protects those people (See Proverbs 30:5: “Every word of God is pure: He is a shield unto them that put their trust in Him.”).
The vine feeds the branches precisely because it shields them (See 1 Kings 4:25: “So Judah and Israel lived in safety, even man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan even unto Beersheba, all the days of Solomon”). The vine is chosen for this task and is faithful to this purpose unto the end (See Jeremiah 2:21: “Yet I planted you a choice vine, a completely faithful seed”). As such, there is a covenant between the husbandman (the planter) and the vine (the chosen one), and the covenant is bound in mutual faithfulness. So the vine feeds and shields the branches as an outgrowth of the covenant between husbandman and vine. The branches are fed and shielded to the extent that they enjoin themselves into this covenant relationship between husbandman and vine. To the extent that they refuse to do so, they are cut off, and instead rooted into what is evil (See Isaiah 17:10-11: “For you have forgotten the God of your salvation…Therefore, you plant delightful plants and set them with vine slips of a strange god. In the day that you plant it, you carefully fence it in. In the morning you bring your seed to blossom. But the harvest will be a heap in a day of sickliness and incurable pain”).
John 15:2: “…and every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”
Purgation of Sins: God is not content for any one of us to be average or middling in terms of our likeness to Him. He meant it when He said that we are to be perfect as Our Father in Heaven is perfect. Therefore, so long as we bear some fruit for Him with which to work, He will take what we have and purge it of whatever limits it from its further perfection (See Daniel 12:10: “Many will be purified, made spotless and refined, but the wicked will continue to be wicked”). In this context, the “wicked” are those who bear no fruit at all. There is nothing for the Father to purge and so “the wicked will continue to be wicked.” For everyone else, there will be purification, so that they may be made “spotless and refined.” Purgation is not punishment for sins which have yet to be confessed or absolved, so much as purgation is God’s grace in action (God’s truth as is experienced by those near to Him) to free the penitent sinner from the last vestiges of his sins.
John 15:3: “Now you are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.”
The word spoken unto us is Christ Jesus Himself, for Christ Jesus is the Incarnation of the Son of God. He is the Incarnation of the Logos, which is the Word that God spake when He created the world and said that it was good (meaning imparted His grace unto the world, for what is good is what is full of grace; see “Hail Mary,” for because Mary is “full of grace” she is “blessed…among women,” which is to say that she is good). So we are clean in virtue of Christ Jesus being clean.
John 15:4: “…the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine.”
The question is in which vine does the branch abide? There are many vines out there in the soil. Only one vine is good, and that is Christ Jesus. All others are pretenders feeding poison unto the branches attached unto them (See Romans 7:5: “For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins…did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death”).
John 15:5: “for without Me ye can do nothing.”
Christ Jesus is not only the best vine. He is the only true vine. The other vines, therefore, lead to death. There is no middle position. There is no “good enough” vine that may not lead branches to eternal life, but can lead them to some semblance of contentedness. There is no “fast food” vine that feeds nutrients that are okay for the moment. There is either Christ Jesus, the vine in which the branches may live and grow unto eternal life, or there is the harvest of death which is the despair of never finding eternal life (See Jeremiah 8:20: “Harvest is past, summer is ended, and we are not saved”).
I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.