In the Old Testament vine or vineyard was used to symbolise the people of Israel. Isiah 5: 1-7 is a beautiful song about the vineyard that is Israel. Psalm 80: 8-10 explains how God delivered the people of Israel from the slavery of Egypt and planted it among the nations giving utmost care to it. This choice vine later when it started to produce fruits turned its face away from God and indulged in idolatry (Hos 10). In fact, it has become a wild vine (Jer 2:21). Therefore, this useless vine will be thrown into the fire. Even its wood cannot be used afterwards (Ezek 15:1-8). The choice vine, Israel, that was privileged by God did not remain faithful to the true God.
It is from this background that Jesus proclaims, “I am the true vine, and you are the branches.” Jesus compares himself to the “faithful vine” that always remain faithful to the vinedresser (the Father). We, the new Israel, have been grafted in the place of the old Israel (Rom 11:17). Our duty is to remain in him and to bear fruits. We receive divine life by remaining faithful to Jesus. The Lord has entered into communion with us; he has taken the initiative to be in a loving relationship with us. That is why he says to us, I am the vine, you are the branches. However, he needs us to respond to that loving initiative he has taken towards us. We are to make our home in him, to remain in him. We are to keep coming to him and turning towards him.
There is also another dimension that we need to understand. He suggests that in various ways God prunes our lives to make them even more fruitful than they presently are. There are some things we may need to shed if we are to become all that God is calling us to be. Some experiences of letting go, which can be very painful at the time, can help us to grow in our relationship with God and with others. Yet, during those painful experiences of pruning in our lives, the Lord is in communion with us. We don’t have to face that experience of being pruned on our own, or in the strength of our own resources alone. The Lord who makes his home in us will sustain us in those times and will lead us through the painful experience of pruning into a new and more fruitful life. ✍️CB