Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

Ye Are The Branches
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5, NKJV)
The Key is always Near the Door
This passage has been controversial (and might I say confusing) to those of us who would like to believe that we believe what the Lord has said.  Preachers that I listened to in a by-gone day,  always reminded us to interpret in the context and to remember that the “key is always near the door.”  In other words, the Lord doesn’t ask us to find the meaning of this passage in the Old Testament or in the book of Revelation or even in the Epistles.  The key to the Lord’s teaching has to be right here in the passage.
This passage is part of the upper room ministry on the evening of the Last Supper.  Judas appears to have left but the other disciples are all present.  After the Lord instructs His close disciples, He goes over the brook Kidron and enters into the Garden of Gethsemane with his disciples.  So it seems that the interpretation has to do with His disciples.  The application would apply to any of us who claim to be His disciples.
What Do We Know?
We know that in this passage the Lord is the vine and is the source of life and power and blessing.  In Jeremiah 2, Israel is pictured as a vine–the source of blessing and fruitfulness.  But the nation is about to crucify the Lord.  So they are not the source of life and blessing now.  That is why the Lord is the true vine.  We also know that in Chapter 13, the Lord has sent Judas away knowing he is going to betray Him.  He has also admonished Peter who says he will lay down his life for the sake of the Lord.  He tells him that he will deny Him three times before the rooster crows in the morning.
We also know that we must abide in the vine to be fruitful and to have our prayers answered in a positive way.  To abide in the vine would require us to be in the vine (that would involve a salvation experience) and then it would require maintaining fellowship by doing what the Lord has asked us to do (which seems to involve loving one another).
My Suggestion
I would suggest that when the Lord says in John 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,” He is referring to Judas and Peter.  Judas was never in the vine and  was taken away (not lifted up for blessing as some have taught).  Peter was definitely in the vine but was going to fail both the Lord and Himself and He was pruned.  I believe John 15:6 also applies to Judas,  “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they (KJV is clear that this is men)  gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”  Remember how men treated Judas after he realized that the Lord was not going to deliver Himself from the Scribes and Pharisees.  I don’t think he had intended to harm the Lord.  I think he thought he could make money because of the Lord’s ability to deliver Himself.  When he “repented himself,” that is when he realized what he had done, remember how the chief priests and rulers said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”  Then Judas went out and hanged himself.  All because he had done the will of the religious leaders and had never trusted the Lord.  Those religious leaders then discarded Him as a branch that was to be burned.
I would certainly rather be a Peter who was in need of pruning than a Judas who was never saved.   However, it would be nice to be neither but to be trusting the Lord both with regard to salvation and with regard to service.  We abide in the vine by keeping or guarding the commandments of the Lord.  And “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends (John 15:12-13, NKJV).”  We are not to be traitors to one another and neither are we to be traitors to the Lord.  That means we don’t misuse Scripture to produce ungodly results.  But it also means that only one who is truly “in the vine” (often this is referred to as being “in Christ”) will really understand the Lord’s teaching.  
I really wonder how many of us are really abiding in the vine.  Am I?
Bruce Collins
Meditation for the week of May 29 and June 5, 2022

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