What is the True Vine (John 15:16)?
When we read John 15:1-16, we can feel as if we are listening in on a private phone conversation between Jesus and His disciples. Jesus is talking, and the verse you refer to is near the end of His comments about the vine and the branches. But near the beginning He says this,
I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. (NASB) John 15:5
I Am The Vine
Jesus told His disciples that He is the vine and they are the branches of the vine. Grape vines have branches which obtain their minerals and water through the stem of the vine. If a branch is not attached to the vine, it dies. If a branch is not attached to the vine, it will not grow. If a branch is not attached, it cannot produce grapes. If a branch is not attached, it will be brown and not green. If a branch is cut-off, it can do nothing! Jesus’ point was simple. It can do nothing! None of us can accomplish any spiritual good on our own. Some believe that they can do something. Have you ever heard people honor themselves by declaring “all the good things” that they had accomplished? If so, they did not listen and believe Jesus! Is it possible that what they accomplished was without Jesus; and therefore, they actually accomplished nothing of eternal value? They did it without the Holy Spirit working through them! It is also possible that God accomplished good in spite of them. The Apostle Paul illustrates the same point with these words,
I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth. So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth. (NASB0 1 Corinthians 3:6-7
Yet, some think that somehow they are causing Jesus’ kingdom to increase. But the vast majority of us know deep down inside ourselves that Jesus is correct. Most of us understand that we cannot accomplish any spiritual good on our own. We even understand that we cannot cause anyone to be encouraged by any spiritual ministry that we might perform all by ourselves. Ultimately, it is God who makes that happen. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches.
Being a Branch
Are you a branch? In John 15:5, Jesus says that a branch abides in Him. That is, the branches must be attached to Him. Then in the passage that you are asking about, we read this,
You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. (NASB) John 15:16
The man or woman who is truly attached to Him is one who believes that Jesus is God, He died for his/her sins, He returned to life, and returned to heaven. If he/she really believes this, then he/she is a branch. Branches cannot produce anything by themselves. Only branches attached to a vine produce fruit. We become attached to Jesus when we believe in Him and yield ourselves to Him. Only then can we produce spiritual fruit.
Such branches have a changed life which is marked by spiritual holiness (Gal. 5:22-23),
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (NASB) Gal. 5:22-23
. . . for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth . . . (NASB) Eph. 5:9
and the result is that others will come to believe in Jesus (1 Cor. 3:6-7).
Jesus is the vine, but are you a branch that is attached to Him? One becomes a branch by believing in Him and seeking His forgiveness. True branches produce the fruit of spiritual holiness and share their faith with others. The result is that others come to know Him.