II. THE VINE AND THE BRANCHES
In John 15 the Lord Jesus describes God’s economy as a vine tree. In 15:1 Jesus says: "I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman." In 15:5 He says, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit."
A. The Triune God
The vine tree is a picture of the Triune God. The Father is the husbandman (farmer). He is the source and originator of this vine tree. It was planted by Him and is cultivated and supplied by Him. He is even its soil, its sunshine, and its air. The Lord said, "I am the vine." The Son is the vine, which is the embodiment of the Father. All that the Father is, has, and does is wrapped up in this vine. Later, in John 15:26, the Spirit is revealed as the Spirit of reality. We know this Spirit brings all that the Father is and has, and makes it our reality. The Spirit is the sap, the life juice, that flows in the vine.
This great vine is the organism of the Triune God. An organism is something that is living. All that the Father is is in this organism, embodied in this vine, which is the Second of the Trinity. Within the vine is the circulating life-flow of the Spirit. It is the Spirit who carries the riches of the Father to sustain the vine and its branches.
B. The Believers
But in this picture there is not only the Triune God; we are also a part of this wonderful vine tree. The Lord says, "I am the vine, you are the branches." The branches of the vine are its body; if you cut off all the branches you would be left with just a bare stem. There would be no body and no branching out. In the same way, the church is the Body of Christ. We are the branches of the vine. We live in the vine and the Spirit flows through us, bringing us all the riches of the Triune God. In this way we are the expression of the Triune God, the branching out of God. We are vital to Him, for without us He has no way to be fully expressed.
The picture in John 15 shows us what the Body of Christ is. It is the Triune God and His believers blended into one living organism. The church is not an organization; it is an organism. The ultimate intention of the Triune God is that He might be worked into us and mingled with us until He and we become a mutual abode. That means God abides in us and we abide in Him. Wonderful!
C. Bearing Fruit
By this abiding, the branches of the vine bear fruit. As we receive the dispensing of the Triune God into us, we should dispense Him into others to bear them as fruit. This is our responsibility and joy (John 15:8, 11, 16). A vine tree is only good for bearing fruit, and a rich vine should bear much fruit. No husbandman wants a vine that does not bear fruit. The abundant fruit is the husbandman’s glory. Bearing fruit is our occupation and the Father’s glory.
We enjoy God in such a rich way. Don’t you think that it is right for us to tell our friends so that they may also enjoy this God? If we do not tell our friends about this wonderful Triune God, how can they believe and receive Him? When we speak, we branch out God. Since we are His branches, we can branch Him out to reach our friends. What a privilege! We are not only the receivers of God, but we are also the dispensers of God. We work together with God to bring others into the vine, into the organism of the Triune God. Hallelujah! Then the Father will get the glory through us.
(Lesson Book, Level 2: The Triune God—The Triune God and the Person and Work of Christ, Chapter 12, by Witness Lee)