Reflections on John 15:1-16 (part 1)

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The Husbandman

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.  Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples” (:1, 8).

Introduction

In this series of studies we will look at the various aspects of the Christian’s life as presented by the Lord Jesus Christ in John 15:1-16. They will be broken down into segments so that we can get a good understanding of the issues involved.

The Husbandman

A husbandman was a crop farmer in Biblical days, though today the term refers to the agricultural practice of breeding and raising livestock, or animal farming.

From the outset the “husbandman” is identified as God the Father. Jesus states that His Father watches over and cares for the “vine”, that is Himself. The Lord Jesus is the “true vine” and we are the “branches” (:5). Therefore the Father in caring for the “vine” automatically cares for the “branches” in the same way. Jesus became the “vine” so that we could become the “branches” and in turn glorify the Father as He does.

The Son of God, though He is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, came to offer us the privilege of becoming the children of God. This blessing can never become a reality until we surrender ourselves to His loving care by placing unconditional confidence in Him. Christ Himself lived a life of full dependence in His Father. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19) … “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works” (John 14:10). A life lived in this fashioned cannot but please the Husbandman. “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:17) … “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5). This is perfect trust despite the coming cross and suffering. Therefore that Father was glorified in the Son.

The application

It is the responsibility of the gardener both to care for crop and the soil it is planted in. It is impossible to get a good crop otherwise. God has placed us in the most advantageous position possible, for if Jesus is the “vine” and we are the “branches” then there ought to be no reason for fruitlessness. This means that we can provide nothing for ourselves to be fruitful. “For without me ye can do nothing” (:5). So instead of looking to ourselves, we must turn our eyes to the Father and leave our lives in His capable hands. This is likely to be the hardest thing we are called to do, for we seem determined to work our passage to Heaven. We must believe that He is caring for us because an unkempt garden quickly become wild and unruly.

We must come to the place of utter helplessness and fully surrender our will to God. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Unless we do we will never bear the fruit the Husbandman expects. Until we allow Him to provide all the means for our growth our Christian lives will be stunted. “A vineyard of red wine. I the LORD do keep it; I will water it every moment: lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day” (Isaiah 27:2-3). Our calling in life is to serve God

How else can God be glorified? He is glorified by the fruit of those who have yielded themselves entirely to Him. As the gardener or farmer is honoured when people admire his display of produce, so the Divine Husbandman is glorified when the world sees His nature in us. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). Let us constantly remind ourselves that everything to do with such growth come from God and not ourselves. Also, we can only glorify God if we stay within the patch of ground He has planted us in. “If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever” (1 Peter 4:11). This means that we can only serve God within and according to the power He has given us. To do otherwise is to rob God of glory.

Conclusion

It is the gardener who gets all the praise for the beautiful rose he has produced. It is the Father who received all the glory for the life we live in Christ. It is entirely beyond our power to grow in the Lord, for it is His work in us that produces the fruit. “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Everything we need for the Christian life comes from Him. Are we prepared to take it?

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