Referring to himself, seven times Jesus utilizes the words “I am” to identify his person and purpose (John 6:35, 6:48, 6:51; 8:12, 9:5; 10:7, 10:9; 10:11, 10:14; 11:25; 14:6; 15:1). To those who heard him speak, his meaning was sometimes vague and misunderstood. But there was little uncertainty in the minds of the 11 remaining disciples when, only hours before his death, Jesus said to them, “I am the true vine, you are the branches.”

Every first-century Jew was familiar with the symbolism. Grapevines and vineyards were a familiar sight in Palestine, and the authors of the Old Testament used such imagery many times in reference to Israel. But the metaphor was normally used to denote Israel’s sinfulness, not her fruitfulness. They were to be the vine, God’s representative, bearing his image to the world. But their continued sin and rebellion found them to be sour grapes, a bad vine incapable of producing good fruit. Thus, Jesus doesn’t say, “I am a true vine,” suggesting that there are others. No, he says, “I am the true vine.”

Through faith in him, as a branch of his vine, he wants you to know, produce and enjoy the sweet and satisfying fruits of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control  (see Galatians 5:22-23) — simply by plugging into and staying put (abiding) in him. Grow and bloom where you are planted.