April 18 I Saturday
2 Samuel 3-5
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” —John 15:1-2
If we were to visit Israel today, we would see the symbol of the Israeli tourist board almost everywhere. The symbol is of two people with a pole on their shoulders, reaching from one to the other and a huge batch of grapes hanging below it. The symbol is a reference to the spies who brought back to Moses the riches of the land of Israel; they were carrying grapes and pomegranates with poles on their shoulders.
The vine became a key image that runs through the Old Testament. In fact, it is the symbol of the nation itself. Many of the Old Testament prophets and writers allude to Israel through the symbol of a vine. For example, Isaiah 5:4 tells us, “What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad?” In another instance, God says, “I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?” (Jeremiah 2:21). From these two verses, we find a general message on the failure of the vine to produce fruit, develop roots, be pruned and grow.
Interestingly, the psalmist Asaph writes, “You transplanted a vine from Egypt; You drove out the nations and planted it” (Psalm 80:8). That verse references God bringing the Israelites out of Egypt and planting them in Canaan, the Promised Land. But Asaph then explains how the vine was now broken: boars ravaged it and eventually it burned with fire. This picture, however, shifts when Asaph tells us, “Let Your hand rest on the man at Your right hand, the Son of Man You have raised up for Yourself” (Psalm 80:17).
Who is Asaph referring to as “the man at your right hand” that would be raised to replace this degenerated vine that only gives bad fruits? Israel wondered that for centuries until the answer is found when Jesus said, “I am the true vine” (John 15:1). Jesus is not just the vine; He is the true vine. Israel, being set apart by God was only a foreshadow, an anticipation and a preparation for what God was sending to be the true vine––Christ Himself, the source of life and fruitfulness.
Jesus tells us, “Remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me” (John 15:4). Jesus’s purpose is to produce fruit in the branches that are united to His vine. Are we part of His vine?
Prayer: Dear Jesus Christ, thank You for being the true vine, where only those who remain in You will have life and bear fruit. Take my life and let it abide in You. Praise You!