Editor’s note: Today’s piece is very special, and not only because it is a guest post by our good friend, Phil Ledgerwood. No, today’s post is special because it presents, finally, the exhaustive and definitive case that Jesus was basically Groot. (Which makes him even more awesome.)
Obviously, this essay was written in good fun, and I hope you enjoy it. But the serious point here is that if you replace “Jesus is a plant” with “the earth is 6,000 years old,” and change some of the Bible references, you would pretty much have the basics of every young-earth creationist book, blog and museum placard ever written. These are the same arguments.
Just something to think about. Because, if the exact same hermeneutic by which you attempt to prove a recent creation can also lend credence to the idea of Jesus as plant man, you’re probably not using the Bible appropriately.
Christos Herba: The Case for a Botanical Christ
Due to postmodern historiographies and a desire to present a Christ more palatable to our modern sensibilities, many historians and theologians portray Christ as a human being. In fact, this view is so prevalent in our day that it wouldn’t even occur to someone to challenge it. None dare call it heresy.
However, this view of Christ does not honor God’s holy and inspired Word. It, instead, twists the plain meaning of the text into something that is easier for Christians to accept as they bow the knee to modern science and social pressures.
True Christians need not bow to these idols, however. The Church needs once again to be reminded that she is on the firm ground of the Word by taking the text as God wrote it, and proclaiming the truth that Jesus was a plant during his earthly ministry.
The Exegetical Case
There are very few verses that speak to the issue of whether or not Jesus was a plant. There are certainly no verses that clearly state that he was not. The times that it is addressed, however, the text is quite clear.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”
— John 15:1-5, KJV (Authorized Version, emphasis mine)
A plain reading of the text shows that Jesus was a vine. There is just no other way to interpret it without twisting the words around to mean whatever you want them to. If Jesus says he is a vine, and we say he is not a vine at all, then we can make any word in Scripture mean anything we want to, and this is exactly what unstable people do.
The Greek word for “vine” in these passages is ampelos. This word occurs only one other place in Scripture, and that is James 3:12. That passage reads:
“Can the fig tree, my brethren, bear olive berries? Either a vine, figs? So can no fountain both yield salt water and fresh.” – James 3:12, KJV (Authorized Version)
Clearly, James is referring to a literal vine and not a human being.
We have established that, everywhere else in Scripture we find ampelos, it means a literal vine. If “vine” is meant to represent a human being in this particular location, we’d need to find God saying that, somewhere.
To further put the nail in the coffin of those who would make God a liar is that Jesus qualifies the word “vine” with “true” – alethine. It’s as if he is going out of his way to make sure we understand he is really a vine! How much clearer could he be? What else could he say if he were trying to get across that he was really and truly a vine?
This word only occurs two other places in Scripture, both times also in the Gospel of John. In 8:16, it refers to Christ’s judgement being true, and in 19:35, it refers to his testimony being true. Can true in these contexts mean anything other than 100 percent truthfulness and accuracy? Is Christ saying that his judgements and his testimonies are only symbolically true or allegorically true? Of course not.
- The text clearly says Jesus is a vine in a passage that is obviously meant to communicate an actual historical event. Jesus actually said it, and it plainly says what it says.
- The Greek word for “vine” in this passage always means a literal “vine” everywhere else.
- The use of the word “true” to modify “vine” shows the clear intention that his statement is 100 percent true and scientifically accurate, just like everything else in Scripture.
Old Testament Witness
The Old Testament prophets clearly foresaw a day when the Messiah would be a plant, as the following texts from multiple prophets demonstrate.
“In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.” — Isa. 4:2
“And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” – Isa. 11:1
“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.” — Isa. 11:10
“For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.” — Isa. 53:2
“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.” — Jer. 23:5
“In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.” — Jer. 33:15
“Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the Branch.” — Zech. 3:8
Witness of the Early Church
Here are some quotes from the early church that show that Jesus Vinism™ was their default view.
“On the part of those who come to the vine, their union with him depends upon a deliberate act of the will.” – St. Cyril of Alexandria
“We thank thee, our Father, for the holy vine, David thy Son, which thou hast made known unto us through Jesus Christ thy Son; to thee be the glory for ever.” – The Didache
Taking a stand for the truth of God’s Word is not popular today. Many unbelievers and perhaps even other Christians may make fun of a view like this that is so “old-fashioned” and out of sync with the scientific community. Well, may God be true and every man a liar (Rom. 3:4).
Nevertheless, here are some of the more popular arguments you may encounter.
This view is self-evidently wrong.
It’s interesting how the same people who profess a dedication to research and evidence are so willing to dismiss the Jesus Plant view out of hand without even seriously considering it. This is no argument at all. God’s Word sounds foolish to the “wise” of this world (1 Cor. 1:20, 1:27, 3:18-19).
Show them the evidence and ask if they can produce a single text where ampelos means “human being” or a single instance of alethine that means “not exactly true.”
This is really, really stupid.
In logic, we call this an ad hominem. It is a fallacy and just shows how the Jesus Humanists have no real case.
Jesus did things plants cannot do, such as talk and move around.
First, this argument depends on the fallacy of uniformity – the unproven assumption that we can use the way nature works today as an indicator of how nature has always worked. How do you know plants could not talk and move around back then? Were you there? How do you know this is impossible? The fact that we find no mention of plants talking and moving around just shows how commonplace it must have been. It’s hardly remarkable in biblical times. This objection is just a wild guess that has no basis in actual fact. It is quite possible that talking plants were common in Jerusalem, but were wiped out in 70 AD.
Second, this puts into doubt the power of God. Could God not make a plant talk and move around? Why is it so hard to believe God could do that? Perhaps your God is too small. God made a donkey talk and allowed it to see into the spiritual realm (Numbers 22:21-39), and it didn’t seem to faze anyone.
Third, this is evaluating the truth of the Word of God with naturalistic claims instead of the other way around. If God’s Word says a vine talked, then our view of science needs to take into account such occurrences. We do not rule them out just because “science says so.” That is putting science on a throne passing judgment on God’s Word, and it ought to be the other way around.
If Jesus were a plant, this would interfere with Paul’s “Second Adam” theology.
Perhaps, unless Adam were also a plant.
This is more speculative because Scripture does not actually say Adam was a plant, and that is a whole different topic to get into. But if Christ is clearly a plant, and he is the second Adam, then it is probable that Adam was also a plant, albeit a specially created plant on the sixth day. Everything in Genesis points forward to Christ (Luke 24:13-32), and we have to take that seriously.
But you’ll notice Adam doesn’t do much besides talk and hide – easily definitive characteristics of the walking and talking plants of the ancient world. Also, he comes out of the dust of the Earth and is placed in a garden. It’s hard to ignore how all the pieces easily fit together.
Some may ask, “What does it matter if Jesus were a plant or a man? Isn’t that just some trivial detail with no practical application to our lives?”
It may seem that way on the surface, but keep in mind that what is at stake here is the integrity of God’s Word. Jesus is either a vine or he isn’t. God’s Word says he is, straight from the mouth of Jesus, himself. Either Jesus is actually a vine, as the Bible says, or he isn’t, in which case the Bible is in error.
This means that God is either a liar or fallible, but either way, if Jesus is not a vine as the text clearly states, then how can we trust the Bible on issues like forgiveness and salvation? The very core issues of the Gospel are at stake here. I’m not trying to say that the Vininity of Christ is a salvation issue, but I am saying that if you don’t believe the literal truth of God’s Word, then you are probably going to Hell.
The Church cannot afford caving to secularism on this or any other issue. Either the Bible literally means what it says, or it cannot be trusted. If it is not accurate in every way, then it is not God inspired and we all should just ignore it.
True Christians know better, though.