Randy Aly tells a story about a native from a remote mountain village who had the opportunity to visit a large modern city for the first time. He was amazed at the electric lights which he saw everywhere. So he bought a sack full of electric light bulbs and sockets with switches so he could turn them off and on.
Arriving home he hung the light bulbs in front of his home and on his and his neighbor’s trees. Everyone watched him with curiosity and asked him what he was doing, but he just smiled and said, “Just wait until dark–you’ll see.”
When night came he turned on the switches, but nothing happened. No one had told him about electricity. He did not know the light bulbs were useless unless connected to the source of their power.
In the last of the I AM statements of Jesus, he told the apostles, “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” (Jn 15:5).
This is the same way Jesus affirmed to the apostles, “apart from me you can do nothing.” He is our power source. He supplies our spiritual energy. He is the generator of goodness and grace.
In the last of the I AM statements recorded by John, Jesus expressed his importance to the disciples in these words, “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” ( Jn 15:5).
For the past several weeks we have studied how Jesus is identified with the Old Testament moniker associated with God, I AM (Ex 3:14; Jn 8:58)
Each metaphor is special, unique and pregnant with meaning. It is interesting that Jesus speaks of being “the vine” immediately following the Passover supper. Here He instituted the memorial supper by which to remember him with the elements of unleavened bread and fruit of the vine. The grape juice symbolize “the blood of the covenant” and would remind future believers of the their remission of sins.
Also it is ironic because the vine represents the source of life for the branches. The vine is necessary for the branches nurture, nourishment and nutrients. Yet, this was spoken in the shadow of Friday’s cross where he would be sentenced to death.
I wonder if the disciples thought about this conversation and Jesus’ promise Friday night and Saturday as they hid in fear? What happened to the life-giving vine? Where would their source of sustenance come from? How would they live apart from Him who promised to be their strength?
Sunday, however, answered all those questions and more. Jesus, the Great I AM, demonstrated His Divinity. He was raised from death to life. And never to die again.
Jesus, the Vine, became their strength. And today is our source of spiritual nourishment. Homer Hailey writes that “Jesus became the provider of human needs (and) He is the vine through whom each branch derives the living sap essential to bearing fruit.”
“The Vine” analogy reminds us of our relationship with Christ. Our need to stay connected to Him. And that without Him we are useless and fruitless. Commentator Warren Wiersbe correctly comments, “Our union with Christ is a living union, so we may bear fruit; a loving union, so that we may enjoy Him; and a lasting union, so that we need not be afraid.”
These seven I AM statements not only remind us of Jesus’ greatness, but our daily dependence upon His Divine wisdom, guidance and power.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman