““I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.“You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.“Abide in Me, and I in you.” (John 15:1–4 NAS95)
The words highlighted in bold above are the same word, one is a verb, the other is an adjective; they both mean clean or pure [For Greek studs the words are καθαίρει and καθαροί]. The one who cares for grapevines, prunes back the healthy vines so that they will produce even more fruit. Jesus then jumps into a metaphorical application of the picture of a farmer who is caring for his grapevines. “You disciples,” he says, “are clean [or pruned back] because of the word which I have spoken.”
That is a shocking and surprising statement. Given mankind’s propensity to seek to obtain rightness before God by our incredible behavior and devotion, we might have expected Jesus to say, “You awesome disciples are clean because you are doing everything right! You are a credit to the Jews because you are the best of them.”
Instead, Jesus says, “you are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” In other words, Jesus’ words made the disciples [minus Judas Iscariot who at this moment is selling Jesus out for 30 pieces of silver] clean. Think about it for a minute: Words. Made. Them. Clean. Words!
Yikes! No rabbi would ever have seen that particular teaching coming because everyone! [then AND now] taught and believed that it was one’s own actions that made one right before God. Jesus says, “No, it’s not your actions, it is my words.”
Wow! That is either the truth or Jesus was the most arrogant man in history because he taught that his words could make men morally clean.
What particular words of Jesus could make a man morally clean?
- Believe in me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me (John 14.11)
- I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father except through me (John 14.6)
- And I, when I am lifted up to the earth, will draw all people to myself (John 12.32)
- Whosoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me (John 12.44)
- I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die (John 11.25,26)
- I am the light of the world (John 8.12)
- Unless you believe that I am he, you will die in your sins (John 8.24)
We could go on, dear reader, but you get the point. Jesus said over and over again in a myriad of different ways, that he was the Messiah, that good behavior wasn’t the way to be reconciled to God. Belief in Jesus was the way to be reconciled to God.
I like how The Kry puts this truth: