By Submitted Article on August 1, 2020.
First of four parts
Jacob M. Van Zyl
Jesus often used farming activities as metaphors for spiritual truth. As the sower (Christian) sows the seed (gospel), it may land on four kinds of soil (hearts): the path (hardened), the rocks (burdened), the thorns (tempted) and good soil (fruitful). Jesus explained the parable himself (Matt. 13).
In John 15, Jesus used another farming reality to emphasize deeper truth. The Father is the farmer (gardener), Jesus is the vine, the Spirit is the sap and believers are the branches bearing fruit. The Spirit is not mentioned but implied (John 3:5, 16:13-14). The branches produce leaves and grapes when the sap of the vine flows into them.
The farmer planted the vine and cared for it. Likewise, the Father took the initiative in creation, revelation and salvation. All three were motivated by his goodwill (Eph. 1:5, 9, 11; Phil. 2:13; Luke 2:14; Ex. 33:19).
The Father created through his Son, called the Word (John 1:1-3, Col. 1:16-17). God’s attributes were revealed in his creation (Rom. 1:18-21) and in his word (Ps. 19, John 17:17, 2 Pet. 1:21).
He is the source of all life. He gives and takes it as he wishes. Nothing in creation is permanent. Redwoods can live up to 2,000 years, but eventually they fall over and die. Species live on by procreation.
The Father’s love inspired him to give his Son to save sinners (John 3:16). Without the Father’s love there would have been no incarnation and salvation. The Father is the source of the whole process that leads to fruit on the branches.
St. Paul says the Father had this plan of salvation in mind even before he created anything (Eph. 1:4). He did not want man to fall into sin, but when it happened, he had a plan ready. He announced the coming of the Messiah, his incarnated Son, who would execute the plan of salvation (Gen. 3:15, Luke 2:11, Phil. 2:5-11).
As the farmer plays a key role in the planting, growing and production of the vine, so the Father is the initiator of the work done by Christ, Spirit and believers.
Because both Father and Son sent the Spirit (John 14:16, 23, 26; 15:26), the apostle Paul blessed addressees in his letters in name of Father and Son. In his benediction to the Corinthians, he mentions Father, Son and Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14).
Christ saw his Father as the owner of the vineyard (Matt. 21:33-46). He spoke of his followers as given to him by the Father (John 17:6). He only said what his Father told him (John 8:26, 12:49-50). He taught his disciples to pray to the Father, asking that his name be glorified, his kingdom come and his will be done.
Jacob Van Zyl of Lethbridge is a retired counsellor and the author of several faith-based books.