The Urantia Book Fellowship

The Vine and the Branches: Jesus's Parable of Michael's Nature?

David Kantor

Part 1 of this study reviews the parable of the vine and the branches as well as the concept of the "fruits of the spirit." Part 2 considers the possiblity that this parable is a metaphor for Michael's role as Creator Son. Paragraph numbers refer to The Urantia Book.

Part 1
Reviewing the Parable of The Vine and the Branches

The Vine and the Branches

Note: In considering an interpretation of this parable, let us keep in mind that the purpose of the vine is to provide nutrients to the branches so that they can grow and bear their fruit.  In Part 1 of this study we will review the parable and spend some time contemplating the nature of the fruits of the spirit. Part 2 we will look more closely at the source of those realities which cause the fruits to be born and the cosmic mechanisms which help pass these spirit nutrients out to the branches.

The context in which the parable was spoken: Jesus's presentation of the new commandment

P.1944 , 4 [180:1.1] After a few moments of informal conversation, Jesus stood up and said: "When I enacted for you a parable indicating how you should be willing to serve one another, I said that I desired to give you a new commandment; and I would do this now as I am about to leave you. You well know the commandment which directs that you love one another; that you love your neighbor even as yourself. But I am not wholly satisfied with even that sincere devotion on the part of my children. I would have you perform still greater acts of love in the kingdom of the believing brotherhood. And so I give you this new commandment: That you love one another even as I have loved you. And by this will all men know that you are my disciples if you thus love one another.

P.1944 , 5 [180:1.2] "When I give you this new commandment, I do not place any new burden upon your souls; rather do I bring you new joy and make it possible for you to experience new pleasure in knowing the delights of the bestowal of your heart's affection upon your fellow men. I am about to experience the supreme joy, even though enduring outward sorrow, in the bestowal of my affection upon you and your fellow mortals.

P.1944 , 6 [180:1.3] "When I invite you to love one another, even as I have loved you, I hold up before you the supreme measure of true affection, for greater love can no man have than this: that he will lay down his life for his friends. And you are my friends; you will continue to be my friends if you are but willing to do what I have taught you. You have called me Master, but I do not call you servants. If you will only love one another as I am loving you, you shall be my friends, and I will ever speak to you of that which the Father reveals to me.

P.1945 , 1 [180:1.4] "You have not merely chosen me, but I have also chosen you, and I have ordained you to go forth into the world to yield the fruit of loving service to your fellows even as I have lived among you and revealed the Father to you. The Father and I will both work with you, and you shall experience the divine fullness of joy if you will only obey my command to love one another, even as I have loved you."

P.1945 , 2 [180:1.5] If you would share the Master's joy, you must share his love. And to share his love means that you have shared his service. Such an experience of love does not deliver you from the difficulties of this world; it does not create a new world, but it most certainly does make the old world new.

P.1945 , 3 [180:1.6] Keep in mind: It is loyalty, not sacrifice, that Jesus demands. The consciousness of sacrifice implies the absence of that wholehearted affection which would have made such a loving service a supreme joy. The idea of duty signifies that you are servant, minded and hence are missing the mighty thrill of doing your service as a friend and for a friend. The impulse of friendship transcends all convictions of duty, and the service of a friend for a friend can never be called a sacrifice. The Master has taught the apostles that they are the sons of God. He has called them brethren, and now, before he leaves, he calls them his friends.

The Parable: The Vine and the Branches

P.1945 , 4 [180:2.1] Then Jesus stood up again and continued teaching his apostles: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. I am the vine, and you are the branches. And the Father requires of me only that you shall bear much fruit. The vine is pruned only to increase the fruitfulness of its branches. Every branch coming out of me which bears no fruit, the Father will take away. Every branch which bears fruit, the Father will cleanse that it may bear more fruit. Already are you clean through the word I have spoken, but you must continue to be clean. You must abide in me, and I in you; the branch will die if it is separated from the vine. As the branch cannot bear fruit except it abides in the vine, so neither can you yield the fruits of loving service except you abide in me. Remember: I am the real vine, and you are the living branches. He who lives in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit of the spirit and experience the supreme joy of yielding this spiritual harvest. If you will maintain this living spiritual connection with me, you will bear abundant fruit. If you abide in me and my words live in you, you will be able to commune freely with me, and then can my living spirit so infuse you that you may ask whatsoever my spirit wills and do all this with the assurance that the Father will grant us our petition. Herein is the Father glorified: that the vine has many living branches, and that every branch bears much fruit. And when the world sees these fruit, bearing branches, , my friends who love one another, even as I have loved them, , all men will know that you are truly my disciples.

P.1945 , 5 [180:2.2] "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Live in my love even as I live in the Father's love. If you do as I have taught you, you shall abide in my love even as I have kept the Father's word and evermore abide in his love."

P.1946 , 1 [180:2.3] The Jews had long taught that the Messiah would be "a stem arising out of the vine" of David's ancestors, and in commemoration of this olden teaching a large emblem of the grape and its attached vine decorated the entrance to Herod's temple. The apostles all recalled these things while the Master talked to them this night in the upper chamber.

P.1946 , 2 [810:2.4] But great sorrow later attended the misinterpretation of the Master's inferences regarding prayer. There would have been little difficulty about these teachings if his exact words had been remembered and subsequently truthfully recorded. But as the record was made, believers eventually regarded prayer in Jesus' name as a sort of supreme magic, thinking that they would receive from the Father anything they asked for. For centuries honest souls have continued to wreck their faith against this stumbling block. How long will it take the world of believers to understand that prayer is not a process of getting your way but rather a program of taking God's way, an experience of learning how to recognize and execute the Father's will? It is entirely true that, when your will has been truly aligned with his, you can ask anything conceived by that will, union, and it will be granted. And such a will, union is effected by and through Jesus even as the life of the vine flows into and through the living branches.

P.1946 , 3 [180:2.5] When there exists this living connection between divinity and humanity, if humanity should thoughtlessly and ignorantly pray for selfish ease and vainglorious accomplishments, there could be only one divine answer: more and increased bearing of the fruits of the spirit on the stems of the living branches. When the branch of the vine is alive, there can be only one answer to all its petitions: increased grape bearing. In fact, the branch exists only for, and can do nothing except, fruit bearing, yielding grapes. So does the true believer exist only for the purpose of bearing the fruits of the spirit: to love man as he himself has been loved by God, , that we should love one another, even as Jesus has loved us.

P.1946 , 4 [180:2.6] And when the Father's hand of discipline is laid upon the vine, it is done in love, in order that the branches may bear much fruit. And a wise husbandman cuts away only the dead and fruitless branches.

P.1946 , 5 [180;2.7] Jesus had great difficulty in leading even his apostles to recognize that prayer is a function of spirit, born believers in the spirit, dominated kingdom.

The Fruits of the Spirit

The vine and branches exist for the purpose of bearing fruit. The importance of yielding the fruits of the spirit is listed as one of the four main points of Jesus' message. He said that yielding the fruits of the spirit in one's personal life is the law of the kingdom.

P.2054 , 3 [193:2.2] "And the fruits of the divine spirit which are yielded in the lives of spirit, born and God, knowing mortals are: loving service, unselfish devotion, courageous loyalty, sincere fairness, enlightened honesty, undying hope, confiding trust, merciful ministry, unfailing goodness, forgiving tolerance, and enduring peace. If professed believers bear not these fruits of the divine spirit in their lives, they are dead; the Spirit of Truth is not in them; they are useless branches on the living vine, and they soon will be taken away. My Father requires of the children of faith that they bear much spirit fruit. If, therefore, you are not fruitful, he will dig about your roots and cut away your unfruitful branches. Increasingly, must you yield the fruits of the spirit as you progress heavenward in the kingdom of God. You may enter the kingdom as a child, but the Father requires that you grow up, by grace, to the full stature of spiritual adulthood.

These "spirit fruits" are realities which by and large only exist in the context of relationships between personalities.  It is useful in this regard to consider "spirit ministry" as that agency in cosmic reality which causes values to appear in the presence of mind meanings. It is important to appreciate that these fruits of the spirit appear only in the relationships between personalities. Are these our first contact with Morontial realities?

P.65 , 0  [5:2.4] The proof of fraternity with the divine Adjuster consists wholly in the nature and extent of the fruits of the spirit which are yielded in the life experience of the individual believer. "By their fruits you shall know them."

P.381 , 7 [34:6.13] The consciousness of the spirit domination of a human life is presently attended by an increasing exhibition of the characteristics of the Spirit in the life reactions of such a spirit, led mortal, "for the fruits of the spirit are love, joy, peace, long, suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance."

P.382 , 1  [34:7.1] When the mortal nature has been upstepped by the addition of the nature of the Material Sons of God, as the Urantia races were in a measure advanced by the bestowal of Adam, then is the way better prepared for the Spirit of Truth to co, operate with the indwelling Adjuster to bring forth the beautiful harvest of the character fruits of the spirit.

P.1091 , 5  [99:5.6] Religious experience unfailingly yields the "fruits of the spirit" in the daily life of the spirit, led mortal.

P.1125 , 2 [102:6.7] Belief may not be able to resist doubt and withstand fear, but faith is always triumphant over doubting, for faith is both positive and living. The positive always has the advantage over the negative, truth over error, experience over theory, spiritual realities over the isolated facts of time and space. The convincing evidence of this spiritual certainty consists in the social fruits of the spirit which such believers, faithers, yield as a result of this genuine spiritual experience. Said Jesus: "If you love your fellows as I have loved you, then shall all men know that you are my disciples."

P.1290 , 3  [117:6.17] The fruits of the spirit are the substance of the Supreme as he is realizable in human experience.

P.1585 , 4 [140:10.6] This new religion of Jesus was not without its practical implications, but whatever of practical political, social, or economic value there is to be found in his teaching is the natural outworking of this inner experience of the soul as it manifests the fruits of the spirit in the spontaneous daily ministry of genuine personal religious experience.

P.1596 , 7 [142:1.1] 4. Obedience to the will of the Father, yielding the fruits of the spirit in one's personal life, is the law of the kingdom.

P.1610 , 3 [143:2.8] "The fruits of the spirit are the essence of the highest type of enjoyable and ennobling self, control, even the heights of terrestrial mortal attainment, , true self, mastery."

P.1705 , 3 [152:6.3] The second night of their sojourn at Gennesaret the Master again told the apostles the parable of the sower and added these words: "You see, my children, the appeal to human feelings is transitory and utterly disappointing; the exclusive appeal to the intellect of man is likewise empty and barren; it is only by making your appeal to the spirit which lives within the human mind that you can hope to achieve lasting success and accomplish those marvelous transformations of human character that are presently shown in the abundant yielding of the genuine fruits of the spirit in the daily lives of all who are thus delivered from the darkness of doubt by the birth of the spirit into the light of faith, , the kingdom of heaven."

P.1738 , 1 [156:5.2] It was during this same sermon that Jesus made use of his first and only parable having to do with his own trade, , carpentry. In the course of his admonition to "Build well the foundations for the growth of a noble character of spiritual endowments," he said: "In order to yield the fruits of the spirit, you must be born of the spirit. You must be taught by the spirit and be led by the spirit if you would live the spirit, filled life among your fellows. But do not make the mistake of the foolish carpenter who wastes valuable time squaring, measuring, and smoothing his worm, eaten and inwardly rotting timber and then, when he has thus bestowed all of his labor upon the unsound beam, must reject it as unfit to enter into the foundations of the building which he would construct to withstand the assaults of time and storm. Let every man make sure that the intellectual and moral foundations of character are such as will adequately support the superstructure of the enlarging and ennobling spiritual nature, which is thus to transform the mortal mind and then, in association with that re, created mind, is to achieve the evolvement of the soul of immortal destiny. Your spirit nature, , the jointly created soul, , is a living growth, but the mind and morals of the individual are the soil from which these higher manifestations of human development and divine destiny must spring. The soil of the evolving soul is human and material, but the destiny of this combined creature of mind and spirit is spiritual and divine."

P.1894 , 2  [173:4.4] And then, looking with searching gaze upon those priests and elders who were standing near him, Jesus said: "Did you never read in the Scripture about the stone which the builders rejected, and which, when the people had discovered it, was made into the cornerstone? And so once more do I warn you that, if you continue to reject this gospel, presently will the kingdom of God be taken away from you and be given to a people willing to receive the good news and to bring forth the fruits of the spirit. And there is a mystery about this stone, seeing that whoso falls upon it, while he is thereby broken in pieces, shall be saved; but on whomsoever this stone falls, he will be ground to dust and his ashes scattered to the four winds."

P.1916 , 2 [176:3.2] "And even you, Thomas, fail to comprehend what I have been saying. Have I not all this time taught you that your connection with the kingdom is spiritual and individual, wholly a matter of personal experience in the spirit by the faith, realization that you are a son of God? What more shall I say? The downfall of nations, the crash of empires, the destruction of the unbelieving Jews, the end of an age, even the end of the world, what have these things to do with one who believes this gospel, and who has hid his life in the surety of the eternal kingdom? You who are God, knowing and gospel, believing have already received the assurances of eternal life. Since your lives have been lived in the spirit and for the Father, nothing can be of serious concern to you. Kingdom builders, the accredited citizens of the heavenly worlds, are not to be disturbed by temporal upheavals or perturbed by terrestrial cataclysms. What does it matter to you who believe this gospel of the kingdom if nations overturn, the age ends, or all things visible crash, since you know that your life is the gift of the Son, and that it is eternally secure in the Father? Having lived the temporal life by faith and having yielded the fruits of the spirit as the righteousness of loving service for your fellows, you can confidently look forward to the next step in the eternal career with the same survival faith that has carried you through your first and earthly adventure in sonship with God.

P.1917 , 1 [176:3.5] "To every one who has, more shall be given, and he shall have abundance; but from him who has not, even that which he has shall be taken away. You cannot stand still in the affairs of the eternal kingdom. My Father requires all his children to grow in grace and in a knowledge of the truth. You who know these truths must yield the increase of the fruits of the spirit and manifest a growing devotion to the unselfish service of your fellow servants. And remember that, inasmuch as you minister to one of the least of my brethren, you have done this service to me.

P.1918 , 1 [176:3.8] In the next world you will be asked to give an account of the endowments and stewardships of this world. Whether inherent talents are few or many, a just and merciful reckoning must be faced. If endowments are used only in selfish pursuits and no thought is bestowed upon the higher duty of obtaining increased yield of the fruits of the spirit, as they are manifested in the ever, expanding service of men and the worship of God, such selfish stewards must accept the consequences of their deliberate choosing.

P.1930 , 1 [178:1.4] Sonship in the kingdom, from the standpoint of advancing civilization, should assist you in becoming the ideal citizens of the kingdoms of this world since brotherhood and service are the cornerstones of the gospel of the kingdom. The love call of the spiritual kingdom should prove to be the effective destroyer of the hate urge of the unbelieving and war, minded citizens of the earthly kingdoms. But these material, minded sons in darkness will never know of your spiritual light of truth unless you draw very near them with that unselfish social service which is the natural outgrowth of the bearing of the fruits of the spirit in the life experience of each individual believer.

P.1930 , 3  [178:1.6] In the gospel of the kingdom there resides the mighty Spirit of Truth, and presently I will pour out this same spirit upon all flesh. The fruits of the spirit, your sincere and loving service, are the mighty social lever to uplift the races of darkness, and this Spirit of Truth will become your power, multiplying fulcrum.

P.2062 , 10 [194:3.1] Many queer and strange teachings became associated with the early narratives of the day of Pentecost. In subsequent times the events of this day, on which the Spirit of Truth, the new teacher, came to dwell with mankind, have become confused with the foolish outbreaks of rampant emotionalism. The chief mission of this outpoured spirit of the Father and the Son is to teach men about the truths of the Father's love and the Son's mercy. These are the truths of divinity which men can comprehend more fully than all the other divine traits of character. The Spirit of Truth is concerned primarily with the revelation of the Father's spirit nature and the Son's moral character. The Creator Son, in the flesh, revealed God to men; the Spirit of Truth, in the heart, reveals the Creator Son to men. When man yields the "fruits of the spirit" in his life, he is simply showing forth the traits which the Master manifested in his own earthly life. When Jesus was on earth, he lived his life as one personality, , Jesus of Nazareth. As the indwelling spirit of the "new teacher," the Master has, since Pentecost, been able to live his life anew in the experience of every truth, taught believer.

Part 2
The Vine and the Branches: A Metaphor for Michael's Role as Creator Son?

What is it which passes from the vine into the branches and stimulates the bearing of fruit? How is it related to the ability of the personality to recognize and choose spiritual values, resulting in the bearing of fruit?

P.2094 , 9 [196:3.10] The human mind does not create real values; human experience does not yield universe insight. Concerning insight, the recognition of moral values and the discernment of spiritual meanings, all that the human mind can do is to discover, recognize, interpret, and choose.

This implies that we choose values which come from some other universe source or location, and that these values exist outside ourselves, that they are universe realities which exist outside our subjective experience.   The personalization of spiritual values -- the incorporation of spiritual values into our personality patterns of interaction with other persons -- causes the fruit to be borne in the realm of the Supreme, the interstices of relationships between personalities.

P.2094 , 10 [196:3.11] The moral values of the universe become intellectual possessions by the exercise of the three basic judgments, or choices, of the mortal mind; self-judgment—moral choice; social-judgment—ethical choice; and God-judgment—religious choice.

P.2094 , 14 [196:3.12] Thus it appears that all human progress is effected by a technique of conjoint revelational evolution.

P.2094 , 15 [196:3.13] Unless a divine lover lived in man, he could not unselfishly and spiritually love. Unless an interpreter lived in the mind, man could not truly realize the unity of the universe. Unless an evaluator dwelt with man, he could not possibly appraise moral values and recognize spiritual meanings. And this lover hails from the very source of infinite love; this interpreter is a part of Universal Unity; this evaluator is the child of the Center and Source of all absolute values of divine and eternal reality.

P.2095 , 1 [196:3.14] Moral evaluation with a religious meaning--spiritual insight--connotes the individual's choice between good and evil, truth and error, material and spiritual, human and divine, time and eternity. Human survival is in great measure dependent on consecrating the human will to the choosing of those values selected by this spirit-value sorter--the indwelling interpreter and unifier. Personal religious experience consists in two phases: discovery in the human mind and revelation by the indwelling divine spirit. Through oversophistication or as a result of the irreligious conduct of professed religionists, a man, or even a generation of men, may elect to suspend their efforts to discover the God who indwells them; they may fail to progress in and attain the divine revelation. But such attitudes of spiritual nonprogression cannot long persist because of the presence and influence of the indwelling Thought Adjusters.

For purposes of this study, we will consider "spirit ministry" to be that agency in reality which causes values to appear to mortal mind during the process of the evaluation of meanings.  But where do values come from -- where do they originate? Does the personality of the Eternal Son encompass all the values possible of realization in the present universe age, or are new values still being actualized from the potentials held within the domains of the Deity Absolute? Read the following sections while keeping in mind the parable of the vine and the branches.

P. 81 - 1 [7:1] The Spirit-Gravity Circuit

P. 84 - 1 [7:3] Relation of the Eternal Son to the Individual

P. 141 - 9 [12:9] Personal Realities


1. Are the descriptions of spirit reality in these passages reflected in the parable of the vine and the branches?  If you think so, what do you see as some of the parallels? If not, explain your reasoning.

Additional Notes

Concerning the relationship between the Eternal Son and the Deity Absolute consider:

P.1263 , 3 [115:3.16] The final dynamics of the cosmos have to do with the continual transfer of reality from potentiality to actuality. . . . Always will actuals be opening up new avenues of the realization of hitherto impossible potentials, , every human decision not only actualizes a new reality in human experience but also opens up a new capacity for human growth.

This suggests that the mechanism of growth involves an interaction between meanings and values.  When we attach a particular meaning to some experiencable phenomena, we then alter our behavior on the basis of values which are implicit in those meanings.  Then, when we have implemented these new behaviors, new meanings emerge which then facilitate the appearance of higher values.  Those values, when chosen and implemented in behavior, result in new meanings being discovered.  And so the process continues, somewhat like climbing a ladder with rungs which alternate between meanings and values.

There is much in The Urantia Book to suggest that values flow through the cosmos over spiritual circuits much in the manner of physical energy moving over material energy circuits.

Concerning the understanding of the nature of values in human experience:

P.68 , 5 [5:5.2] The four levels of the realization of values and the enjoyment of universe fellowship:

1. The physical or material level of self, preservation

2. The social or emotional level of fellowship

3. The moral or duty level of reason

4. The spiritual level of the consciousness of universe fellowship through divine worship.

Concerning Creator Sons as manifestations of absolute personality-value associations originating in the Eternal Son and the Universal Father:

Pg 234-235 [21:1.1] Under Origin and Nature of Creator Sons, consider the implications of this:

When the fullness of absolute spiritual ideation in the Eternal Son encounters the fullness of personality concept in the Universal Father, when such a creative union is fully attained, when such absolute identity of spirit and such infinite oneness of personality concept occur, then, right then and there, without the loss of anything of personality or prerogative by either of the infinite Deities, there flashes into full-fledged being a new and original Creator Son, the only-begotten Son of the perfect ideal and the powerful idea whose union produces this new creator personality of power and perfection.

Each Creator Son is the only-begotten and only-begettable offspring of the perfect union of the original concepts of the two infinite and eternal and perfect minds of the ever-existent Creators of the universe of universes. There never can be another such Son because each Creator Son is the unqualified, finished, and final expression and embodiment of all of every phrase of every feature of every possibility of every divine reality that could, throughout all eternity, ever be found in, expressed by, or evolved from, those divine creative potentials which united to bring this Michael Son into existence. Each Creator Son is the absolute of the united deity concepts which constitute his divine origin.

Do you think these concepts relate to the parable of the vine and the branches? If so, how? If not, why not?

A service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship
Serving the Readership since 1955