I Am the True Vine
Open Your Bible
John 15:1-17, Leviticus 26:3-13, Hosea 14:4-8, Galatians 5:22-23
A few Septembers ago, one lazy afternoon during Shabbat, I strolled along a path through a biblical garden in Israel. We’d been there for a week, staying at that gorgeous kibbutz overlooking the Emmaus road, inspired by the garden and the community that lived and worked there.
As I walked alone, the wind picked up from the east, fast and furious. I stopped in my tracks, as if Jesus were about to stroll around the bend, white robe and hair flowing, to offer me a bear hug. A girl can dream, yes? Minutes later, my eyes landed on a branch dangling in front of me; I was standing beneath a grape arbor canopied with a roof of vines overhead.
I looked more closely and noticed a tiny leaf, torn almost in two. At the bottom of the leaf, a green vine had wrapped itself in a ball around the torn part, binding the tear and holding the leaf close against itself. I got choked up. For years I suffered with panic disorder while living in New York City, and I’d always describe myself as “untethered,” flailing and fleeting like that torn leaf.
I ran to gather the rest of my group, to show them this gift of analogy. Our guide, Arie, joined us with bright eyes and zeal, eager for any teachable moment. He shared that the nature of the vine when it touches something, is to begin wrapping itself around it, making them one.
That year, I’d been reading Dutch missionary Andrew Murray’s book, Abide in Christ, excavating my soul and learning how this vine-and-branch thing works. My encounter with the little vine that day reminded me of this passage from Murray’s book: “My entire life, I thought my closeness with Jesus was dependent upon me. But Jesus’s love draws us in for one thing: to come into His presence and His rest. That’s it. How many of us could use a little soul rest? And when we do come, the Vine takes the reins from there; He pulls us close and tethers us to Himself.”
The greatness doesn’t stop there. This tethering becomes provision, meaning all the nutrients of heaven are offered to us right now, to renew us and bring us back to life. Jesus gives us everything we need in life to push back the darkness (2 Peter 1:3). He is “the true vine” who gently binds us to Himself (John 15:1). He brings forth fruit, grown from the life He’s given us, to then bring nourishment to the world. Jesus does it all. Fruit never comes from our own making—it grows to the measure we let Him grow it in us (v.5).
What a beautiful relief! The old covenant was about what we bring to Him—our annual offering, our covering of sin to become restored with God—but the new covenant is all about what Jesus brings to us. His offering. His blood to cover our sin. His righteousness credited to us, declaring us right with God. May we stop striving today and rest in the grip of the Vine’s loving-kindness.