I was talking last week in my blog about the need for us to yield our lives to Jesus and the fact that He desires that we will be fruitful in our service for Him. In the 15th chapter of John’s Gospel we read Jesus’s words recorded there when He says, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine dresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit,” (v.1-2 NASB). The metaphor of the vine and branches would’ve been fully understood by Jesus’s disciples. In the fifth chapter of Isaiah the nation of Judah is represented as being God’s vineyard. The Jews prided themselves on being the vine of God. But Jesus says in this passage that He is “the true vine”. Jesus is the true vine as opposed to that which is a pretense and a counterfeit. Israel was a vine but it was not the true vine. Israel didn’t meet God’s standards so it didn’t produce fruit. Jesus fulfilled to the utmost the purposes of His existence.
Our Heavenly Father is the vine dresser. He’s the one that cultivates and works in and through our lives through the Holy Spirit. His desire is to work in such a way as to produce a great deal of fruit in and through us. We are to live Christian lives that produce an abundance of fruit. The fruit that we are to produce is to be characterized by pleasantness and gratefulness. Think of grapes as a beautiful fruit that is used for many blessed things, including the juice that we drink when we celebrate communion. Vines grow and extend their branches in all different directions. At one of the parsonage is that we lived at in our pastoral ministry experience we had a vine in our backyard and it grew in all different directions. But that vine was not particularly fruitful as it never had a vine dresser who pruned off the dead branches. In verse two Jesus talks about the pruning of the branches. Branches are definitely a part of the vine, so it’s important to recognize that Jesus is not talking about salvation here but about fruitfulness. The problem in following Jesus is sometimes it’s difficult to discern the purging hand of God (that is seen in the first part of verse two) from the pruning hand of God (that is seen in the second part of verse two). When you are being pruned or purged these two things feel exceedingly similar. But the purpose of purging is to cast away dead branches and the purpose of pruning is to bring forth more fruit. We need to pray for the pruning hand of God in our lives. But if we do ask God for His pruning hand it almost always comes in the form of some affliction or difficulty because it is God’s purpose is to produce more fruit in our lives. The branches are to have their root in the vine, who is the Lord Jesus Christ, who suffered more than anyone else. Affliction and suffering (pruning) makes us ready to feel the Word of God into our very souls. When the sap comes into the Christian branch it will produces confidence in God. God will purge out evil intentions of self-interest and self-confidence from our lives. He at times will bring painful circumstances to breakdown our pride so that we are not counting on ourselves but rather counting on the Lord Jesus Christ as the only source of deliverance. God prunes us so that the Word of God may have free flow into our lives. Remember that grapes have to be crushed in order to produce a refreshing drink. The Lord Jesus Christ was crushed to produce the freshness of salvation for all of humanity. Know also that at times God allows difficult things to crush our lives so that we may bring forth refreshment to others as we find God’s grace sufficient to sustain us in the midst of our difficult trials (2 Cor.12:9). What kind of fruit is the Lord Jesus Christ producing in your life? May it be fruit that is connected to the Lord Jesus Christ because later on in this passage Jesus will tell us, “for apart from me you can do nothing,” (John 15:5b NASB). Now there’s a thought for another blog!
Pastor Rich Sivo