Behold the Husbandman
John 15:1—I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
The life of the Vine in the soul of the church is a fascinating biblical reality. This miracle-mystery (Colossians 1:27) should encourage any servant who ministers in God’s vineyard and meditates on its power. The potential of this truth is limited only by the sovereignty of God.
Most of the discussions surrounding this narrative focus on Jesus the Vine and believers the branches and the abiding relationship that is necessary for the Vineyard to flourish.
In this series of articles, I would like to feature the husbandman. With no ill intention, we seem to slip past Jesus’ introductory statement about the Father and move on to the intimacy of the Vine and the branches, without giving much more thought to the Husbandman’s strategic role in the Vineyard. In fact, I am sorry to say, but admit that in the diligent practicum of ministry we often fail to give adequate seasons of time just to know God. And when we do, we find as A.W. Tozer says in The Knowledge of the Holy, “This fear of God is more than a natural apprehension of danger; it is a non-rational dread, an acute feeling of personal insufficiency in the presence of God the Almighty” (77).
While we who minister dream of lush, lasting fruit which should come from this miracle organism, naturally, we also are painfully aware of some of the miseries that often seem to accompany its growth and development. There seems to be various types of unexplainable pain in the fruit-bearing process. Why did they leave our church? Why are they in our church? Additions? Subtractions? Distractions? Corrections? Abductions? Limitations? All of these and more seem to complicate matters. While many of these could be attributed to personal sin and Satanic attacks, we must also consider the Husbandman, who Jesus carefully identifies as “my Father.” He has the stellar reputation of making all things “work together for good” (Romans 8:28). So while we work with all the difficulties that don’t seem so good—He is working with us to make things work together for good and that develops the peaceable fruit of righteousness. The whole of scripture is made of stories where what men meant for evil, God meant for good. Thus, we have our beloved husbandman.
We are using the authorized “husbandman” as opposed to other translations which use “vinedresser” or “gardener” because it seems to convey the idea of “heart” and not just “hand.” The Father has a caring heart for this Vine. He is not a heartless hireling digging up soil and whacking branches. With the precision of a loving surgeon, He knows just what is best for His Vineyard. We will discover many endearing terms that describe His affection as we study the Vineyard in both testaments.
If we fast-forward to the book of Revelation and observe the redeemed from every kindred and tongue and people and nation, worshipping the Lamb (Revelation 5:9-13) and as we see the New Jerusalem coming down from God like a bride (Revelation 21:2), we have to admit this Husbandman really does have a “green thumb.” His activity ensures productivity with or without us. Behind His ways in the vineyard which are often past finding out, there is a loving end that ultimately brings many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10). The vine’s full development is by the hand of the Husbandman.
There is a husbandman in the vineyard. (John 15:1)
He is God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (John 15:1)
He is incomprehensible. (Deuteronomy 29:29)
His ways are past finding out. (Romans 11:33-34)
He has a “green thumb.” (I Corinthians 3:7)
Believe His word and press on. (Hebrews 11:38)
A Touch of Tozer
The yearning to know What cannot be known, to comprehend the Incomprehensible, to touch and taste the Unapproachable, arises from the image of God in the nature of man. Deep calleth unto deep, and though polluted and land-locked by the mighty disaster theologians call the Fall, the soul senses its origin and longs to return to the Source. How can this be realized?
The answer of the Bible is simply “through Jesus Christ our Lord.” In Christ and by Christ, God effects complete self-disclosure, although He shows Himself not to reason but to faith and love. Faith is an organ of knowledge and love an organ of experience. God came to us in the incarnation; in atonement He reconciled us to Himself, and by faith and love we enter and lay hold on Him.
The Knowledge of the Holy, p. 15