Parables of Jesus


Parables of joy

The vine and the branches.

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The vine and the branches

From the Gospel of John Chapter 15, Verses 1-11

"I am the true vine and my Father is the farmer. Every branch that does not bear fruit in Me, cuts it and every branch that bears fruit, it is pruned to bear more fruit. You are already pure, because of the word that I have announced you. Remain in Me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself if it does not remain in the vine, so neither you if you do not remain in Me. I am the vine, you the branches. Who remains in Me and I bear much fruit in him, because without me you cannot do anything. Whoever does not remain in Me is thrown away like a branch and dried; then they collect it, throw it in the fire and burn it. If you remain in Me and my words remain in you, ask for what you want and it will be done to you. My Father is glorified in this: that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. Just as the Father loved me, so I also loved you. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, as I have observed the commandments of the My father and I remain in his love. I have told you these things so that my joy is within you and your joy is full".

John Parable exegesis

In the whole Bible the vine is a symbol of fruitfulness, blessing, well-being; wine is also connected to it, a symbol of wedding party, alliance, joyful sharing. In the book of numbers, the envoys sent by Moses, to explore the promised land, return to him carrying a vine branch with a bunch of grapes as a demonstration of the abundance and richness of that land. (Nm 13,23-25).

The vine, in addition to representing the fruitfulness of the land given by the Lord, also expresses a life that takes place in tranquility and peace: "Judah and Israel were safe; each was under his own vine and fig tree, from Dan to Beersheba throughout Solomon's life".
(see 1Mac 14.2; 1Ki 5.5).

In the New Testament, the symbol of the vine is used above all by the evangelist John, who in his Gospel reports the parable in which Jesus, previously identified as the good shepherd, the door of the sheepfold, the bread that came down from heaven, now appears as "lives"; and if Jesus is the vine, the vinedresser is the Father who, in order to make the vine bear fruit, prunes the dry branches in the opportune time. It is therefore necessary to understand the reason for this identification with the vine. In it there is the vital principle, because it is the sap that allows the branch to bear fruit: the peasants know it well, since for centuries they have given life to the roots of new vines (and the quarrel of words life/vines it is very significant) not by planting seeds, but by using pre-existing branches and a propagation system by cuttings.

The meaning therefore is that the vine contains life, the prime mover to remain alive forever; for this reason Jesus defines himself as "the vine" and presents himself as who has within himself that vital principle which is the truth of God, is the very presence of God. The image of the vine is therefore a similitude used by Jesus to affirm that in He meets the fullness of God, that is, the very source of Life. Without God man walks towards death; in fact, if the branch remains attached to the living vine, otherwise it dries up; In this sense, Jesus is the sure source of life: if we live united with Him, as the branch lives by the sap of the vine, we will be able to enjoy full life and bear fruit; otherwise the branches will detach from the vine, dry out or will be pruned and then burned.

The image of the dry branch that is burned is taken from the words of the prophet Ezekiel who, when he warned the people of what would have happened to him if he had not remained faithful to the Lord, asserted: "Like the wood of the vine among the woods of the forest I l 'I put on the fire to burn, so I will treat the inhabitants of Jerusalem" (Ez 15,16). The same concept of "lifeblood" is repeated by Jesus to the Samaritan woman when, meeting her at the well, she says to her: "Whoever drinks the water that I will give him, will never be thirsty forever. Indeed, the water that I will give him will become in him a source of water that spurts for eternal life"
(Jn 4:14)

Jesus is the vine that infuses Life, it is a decisive presence that leads to an equally decisive choice between life or death, between eternal joy or endless despair: "Whoever remains in me, and I in him, brings much fruit [...]. Whoever does not remain in me is thrown away like the branch and dried", because without him nothing can be done, much less it will be possible to reach full bliss, which means being with God. He is condemned to death and to eternal burning, the same described by the rich newly expired who, turning to Father Abraham, asks to be soothed by his torment: the fire is devouring him and implores Abraham for just one drop of water . (cf. Lk 16: 19-31); here is the identification of burning, which is the situation in which man will incur in his eternal despair, in his endless death.

It is up to you to decide whether to stick to the vine, or to move away; the invitation that Jesus makes to his disciples is to be with Him, but not remaining lukewarmly in the shade, but living strictly in solidarity as branches to the vine, because only if the branch is attached to the vine can it use and feed on its sap. And to convince us lovingly, Jesus uses another beautiful expression: "You are already pure, because of the word that I have spoken to you": by the very fact of having been able to accept His word, we are made worthy to be able to see God "Blessed the pure in heart, because they will see God"
(Mt 5: 8)

Staying with him or not staying therefore depends on the relationship we have with his Word, whose power is well expressed in the "Parable of the sower", in which the seed that falls on the good earth and bears fruit is compared by Jesus to those who hear the word and welcome it by putting it into practice; instead, if the seed falls on a sterile or unsuitable ground, sooner or later it dies, and therefore the Word is extinguished.

Staying with Jesus means listening to and putting into practice his word, giving him trust, believing, setting our actions, our being on what he has left us as an inheritance through his teachings. Saint Paul also encourages us on this path, because "after listening to the word of truth, the Gospel of your salvation, and having believed in it, you received the seal of the Holy Spirit that was promised, which is a deposit of our inheritance , awaiting the complete redemption of those whom God has acquired in praise of his glory" (Eph 1,13-14). We live according to his teachings, let ourselves be guided by Jesus: then the sap will enter us and we will bear many fruits.