“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. – John 15:1-8.
On the night before His death, Jesus spent hours with His disciples, preparing them for the days to come. He spoke and prayed, and broke bread with them. At some point, He gave His disciples a picture, using the vine, that told His followers how they would survive – in fact, do more than survive – when He is gone. It’s a picture that instructs us, individually and collectively as a church, how to really live. It also tells us the end result if we live this way.
In this well-known scripture, Jesus is the vine. His Father is the gardener. A gardener, a vinedresser, really only does a couple of things with vines. In the winter, he cuts off dry and withered branches, sometimes until only the stalks remain. Then, when the branches grow, he removes the smaller shoots so that only the main fruit-bearing branches receive nourishment. Sounds easy, but there’s a bit of skill in learning how to prune a vine and its branches. This is the Father’s role: pruning. Jesus is the vine; the Father is the gardener.
In verses 5-6, Jesus is telling us that we are like a branch. A branch can’t bear fruit without the vine. Without Jesus, we can’t produce fruit for God’s kingdom. To be productive on our mission we must surrender our will to His will. We must be obedient to Jesus Christ. The person who does not abide in Christ cannot do what pleases God; therefore, their works will be useless. In verse 7, Jesus is teaching that knowing His words will control and guide our prayers so that He can answer them. Jesus is saying that when we abide in Him and when His word abides in us, our prayer life will be according to God’s will and not ours. We will pray that God is glorified. In verse 8 Jesus is saying that God is glorified through our lives when we are obedient to His will because we will produce fruit that brings honor to Him.
If you see Jesus in me, you will see the Father. If you see Jesus in me, you will want to be with the Father. We’re in the witness business, so we ought to look more like Jesus. To look more like Jesus we need to grow. We get closer to Jesus so that we bear fruit. We have to guard against allowing our relationship with Jesus to stagnate. Our spiritual energy withers. Like drooping plants our relationship with Christ that was once so vibrant and fresh and exciting becomes slow, stale, and without fruit. What God desired from Israel was for the people of Israel to be more loving, to show obedience to God, and to practice righteousness and justice in how they conducted their lives. When we take that idea and transport it through Jesus, then in and through the disciples, and finally into all of us we begin to see how important it is for us to stay connected to Jesus who is the source of our Christian life.
- What vine are you attached to? How do you know?
- What kind of fruit are you bearing?