Christ is the vine, and God is the gardener who cares for the branches to make them fruitful. The branches are all those who claim to be followers of Christ. The fruitful branches are true believers who by theirliving union with Christ produce much fruit. But those who become unproductive – those who turned back from following Christ after making a superficial commitment – will be separated from the vine. Unproductive followers are as good as dead and will be cut off and tossed aside.
Many people try to be good, honest people who do what is right. But Jesus says that the only way to live a truly good life is to stay close to Him, like a branch attached to the vine. Apart from Christ our efforts are unfruitful.
Have you ever wondered why Jesus used the illustration of a vine and then called Himself the true vine?
At the time of Christ, a golden grapevine was draped across the four columns at the entrance to the temple. Josephus records that its beauty was such that it was known as “a marvel of size and artistry to all who saw with what costliness of material it had been constructed.”
The Mishnah says that people would sometimes make a free will offering by purchasing a golden leaf, berry, or cluster which the priest would then attach to this vine. Often those who gave generously to the temple had their names inscribed on the golden leaves. This was a custom that all were familiar with in Jerusalem. When Jesus depicted himself as the true vine, He was undoubtedly contrasting Himself with this artificial vine, suggesting that if the disciples would offer themselves to Him to the degree that people offered their substance to this golden symbol, the result would be abundant spiritual fruit.