In 2005, Guinness World Book of Records claimed that the largest grapevine in the world is found in Hampton Court near London, England. That vine was planted under the direction of Lancelot Brown in 1769.
In 1887, its base was four-feet thick … by 2005, it was 12 feet at the base, and from this singular root, branches and vines stretch out for more than 120 feet.
Even though some of the smaller branches are very far away from the root, their connectivity to the main stem still permits them to yield grapes.
None of this happens by accident. It’s the result of methodical, skilful cutting and pruning.
And, obviously, this pays off — for in 2001, the Hampton Court vine produced 845 pounds of black dessert grapes.
Jesus lived in a land where grapevines were common and in John 15:1–11 (please take the time to read this fascinating passage in its entirety), Jesus referred to Himself as, “the true vine.” His analogy, of course, has to do with how all Christians are a part of Him, the true vine. The implications and applications are numerous and noteworthy.
To begin with, (verses 1–3) discipline is addressed. As a grapevine must be pruned and unproductive or dead branches removed, so discipline must come to those who believe in and follow Christ.
And as with a grapevine, the purpose of this is not to injure the vine, but to increase its health and productivity.
In the next two verses (4, 5) Jesus explains that life and the resultant fruitfulness flows only one way … from the vine to the branches.
In Verse 5, Jesus says that abiding in Him results in much fruit and He adds, “… without me you can do nothing.”
The branches are entirely reliant upon their connectedness to the vine. For this reason, the real acid test for any alleged or professing Christian group (or person for that matter) is how they treat Jesus Christ, both theologically and practically.
If they minimize or marginalize Him in any way, shape or form, then they are probably not a part of the true vine.
Finally, like the massive grapevine in Hampton Court, there is also remarkable growth and longevity to “the true vine.”
This Vine, this powerful root, has sent out productive, fruitful branches for the past 2,000 years that have covered the entire globe!
“The branch of the vine does not worry, and toil, and rush here to seek for sunshine, and there to find rain. No, it rests in union and communion with the vine; and at the right time, and in the right way, is the right fruit found on it. Let us so abide in the Lord Jesus.” — Hudson Taylor
Pastor Ross Helgeton is the senior pastor of Erskine Evangelical Free Church.
— Faith & Reflection