John 15:1-11 – The Vine – Part 2

Jesus, as He so often does, drops a “J-Bomb” and says something shocking in our text today.
·  I am the true vine” (vs. 1).
·  Why was this such a controversial thing for Jesus to say?
·  The reason should be apparent soon enough.

To find out, we need to look at a description of Israel as found in the O.T.
·  We will be primarily looking at Psalm 80:8-19.
·  And then we need to review a lesson from John 12 – The Hour Has Come.


In the O.T., Israel was frequently referred to as a vine.
·  Importantly, it was a vine that was planted by the Father.
·  And it was tended by the people of Israel.
·  They were given this responsibility by God.
·  They were to ensure that Israel bore fruit in keeping with God’s covenant with them.

Israel as the vine in the O.T.
·  Psalm 80:8–11 (ESV) — 8 You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. 9 You cleared the ground for it; it took deep root and filled the land. 10 The mountains were covered with its shade, the mighty cedars with its branches. 11 It sent out its branches to the sea and its shoots to the River.
·  Hosea 10:1a (ESV) — 1a Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit.
·  Ezekiel 19:10a (ESV) — 10 Your mother was like a vine in a vineyard planted by the water…
·  Isaiah 5:1 (ESV) — 1 Let me sing for my beloved my love song concerning his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill.

We must give special attention to the geographical location in which God planted the vine of Israel.
·  See below map.
·  Israel was the crossroads to Europe, Africa and Asia.
·  So Israel was God’s vine geographically, politically, as well as spiritually.
·  In all these capacities it was to abide in Him and bear fruit to His glory.
·  And only in obedience to God could it prosper and bear fruit for purposes greater than itself.

Israel as Crossroads Map

One of those purposes was to be a light to the nations.
·  Isaiah 42:6 (ESV) — 6 “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,
·  Isaiah 49:6 (ESV) — 6 he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel [restoration from exile]; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
·  Isaiah 49:22 (ESV) — 22 Thus says the Lord God: “Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.

John Monson describes Israel as being strategically situated to be a testing ground of faith – John Monson.
·  See below map.
·  And its engaging with the Gentile world to be a light to them was truly a test of faith.
·  We can see from the topo map that Israel, like us, could engage the world as God intended.
·  Or it could try to geographically seclude itself from the nations and keep God’s fruit for itself.

Israel as Crossroads Topo Map

But there was a problem.
·  Israel was failing; maybe it was secluding itself (think Jonah).
o   Jonah 4:1 (ESV) — 1 But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was angry.
·  The vine was suffering from neglect.
·  Israel was not bearing God’s intended fruit.
·  Jeremiah 2:21 (ESV) — 21 Yet I planted you a choice vine, wholly of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?
·  The Jews tending skills were sorely lacking.
·  Israel had become a wild vine.
·  And what they weren’t doing in obedience they would be made to do in judgment and exile.

The O.T. describes the Jews failure to tend the vine as follows:
·  Psalm 80:12–16 (ESV) — 12 Why then have you broken down its walls, so that all who pass along the way pluck its fruit? 13 The boar from the forest ravages it, and all that move in the field feed on it. 14 Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven, and see; have regard for this vine, 15 the stock that your right hand planted, and for the son whom you made strong for yourself. 16 They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your face!
·  Hosea 10:1 (ESV) — 1b The more his fruit increased, the more altars he built; as his country improved, he improved his pillars.
·   Ezekiel 19:12 (ESV) — 12 But the vine was plucked up in fury, cast down to the ground; the east wind dried up its fruit; they were stripped off and withered. As for its strong stem, fire consumed it.
·  Isaiah 5:2b–7 (ESV) — 2b …but it yielded wild grapes. 3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 4 What more was there to do for my vineyard, that I have not done in it? When I looked for it to yield grapes, why did it yield wild grapes?

The disobedience of the Jews that brought judgment from God in the form of exile had withered the vine that God had brought out of Egypt and planted for His glory.
·  The vine of Israel had become a wild vine bearing useless, tasteless wild grapes.
o   “Wild” can actually be translated “worthless”, “rotten”, “stinking” or “sour”.
·  The vine was clearly unfit to serve its purpose as a light to the nations.
·  Something needed to be put a right.

So in spite of the Jews failure, God’s ultimate purposes would not be thwarted.
·  Psalm 80:17–19 (ESV) — 17 But let your hand be on the man of your right hand, the son of man whom you have made strong for yourself! 18 Then we shall not turn back from you; give us life, and we will call upon your name! 19 Restore us, O Lord God of hosts! Let your face shine, that we may be saved!
·  Israel, the wild vine, was in need of restoration.
·  Or, perhaps it needed to be replaced.


Now back to Jesus’ words in our text today.
·  I am the true vine
·  What is Jesus saying?

1) He is passing judgment on the Jews’ tending capabilities.
·  They had virtually killed the vine and turned its fruit “worthless” and “rotten”.
·  They had failed to be a light to the nations.
o   Even in exile many simply assimilated and didn’t return to Israel.
·  They had failed to be obedient to God.
·  So when Jesus said He was the vine, He was taking away their stewardship of the fruit of God.
o   Ultimately to whom did He give this stewardship?

2) He is proclaiming that He has replaced Israel as the vine.
·  He is now the crossroads to the world.
·  He has borne the fruit of God.
·  “Jesus has already, in principle, superseded the temple, the Jewish feasts, Moses, various holy sites; here he supersedes Israel as the very locus of the people of God” – D.A. Carson.
·  This is huge!

And unlike Israel:
·  As the vine, Jesus has brought life and truth (John 14:6).
·  As the vine, the light to the Gentiles has not been extinguished.
o   John 1:29 (ESV) — 29 The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
·  In fact, we saw in John 12 that the Greeks seeking Jesus were a cue for Him.
o   John 12:19–26 (ESV) — 20 Now among those who went up to worship at the feast were some Greeks. 21 So these came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22 Philip went and told Andrew; Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.
·  As the vine, He has been perfectly obedient to the Father.
o   John 15:10 (ESV) — 10b …just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

To complete the picture of the nature of Jesus’ replacement, we need to review what we learned from John 12.
·  In so doing, we will see a specific example of the nature of His replacing.

Jesus replaces the Temple:
·  In John 12 we discussed:
·  The Jews hope for a coming King.
·  And the nature of the Kingdom of God this King would inaugurate.

We saw from N.T. Wright that this King/Kingdom eschatology of the Jews carried with it the expectation of:
·  Two Accomplishments
·  Two Moments

The two accomplishments would at a minimum include:
·  1) “Victory over the pagans” – N.T. Wright
·  2) “Cleansing or rebuilding the Temple” – N.T. Wright

Additionally, the King’s campaign “would have (at least) two key ‘moments’” – N.T. Wright.
·  1) “The initial proclamation” – N.T. Wright.
·  2) “The moment when the final battle was won and the Temple rebuilt” – N.T. Wright.

In John 12 we covered all but accomplishment number two.
·  The “cleansing or rebuilding the Temple” – N.T. Wright.
·  Jesus not only “cleansed” and “rebuilt” the Temple, but as evident in our text, He also replaced it entirely.

When did He cleanse the Temple?
·  He cleansed it when He cleared it out.
·  John 2:14–15 (ESV) — 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers sitting there. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.

When did He pass judgment on it?
·  He passed judgment on it when he prophesied its destruction.
·  Mark 13:2 (ESV) — 2 And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? There will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.”

And when did He replace it?
·  He replaced it when He alluded to His resurrection as the raising up of the temple.
·  John 2:18–22 (ESV) — 18 So the Jews said to him, “What sign do you show us for doing these things?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he was speaking about the temple of his body.

That Jesus replaced the Temple is also seen in the following:
·  Matthew 12:5–6 (ESV) — 5 Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.
·  Revelation 21:22 (ESV) — 22 And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.

The Temple was just one of the many old covenant elements of Judaism replaced by Jesus.
·  As the book of Hebrews makes so clear, Judaism as they knew it, was completely recreated under Jesus and the new covenant.
·  What were some other things Jesus replaced?
o   Temple Sacrifice
o   Court of the Gentiles
o   The Priests
o   The Feasts

There is another massive implication in Jesus’ replacing the Temple.
·  Throughout the history of Judaism, there was always an overlap between heaven and earth.
·  This place of overlap occurred in the Garden of Eden, the tabernacle, and the Temple.
·  Now, Jesus was telling them that the place of overlap has changed from a place to a person.
o   John 4:21 (ESV) — 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
·  It now takes place in Him!
o   One more argument that He thought of Himself as God.
·  And when He left, the overlap between heaven and earth would occur where?

Through the giving of the Holy Spirit, Jesus would make us temples to the living God.
·  1 Corinthians 3:16 (ESV) — 16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
·  2 Corinthians 6:16 (ESV) — 16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, “I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Right Thinking Summary:
·  We have said before that we simply can’t believe or trust in what we don’t know.
·  We have said that to love someone more means also knowing them more.
o   You can’t love what you don’t know.
·  Today’s lesson brings us one more way we can know Jesus and His mission and thus love Him more.
·  Christ is the vine, having replaced Israel, so that the fruit of God might reach the Gentiles.