May 18, 2021 / Vine

One of my favorite teachings of Jesus is the story of the vine and the branches. In this metaphor, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Just as in nature, it is the vine who brings nourishment to the branches, in Jesus’ case, spiritual nourishment. John 15:5 illustrates this saying, “I (Jesus) am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in Him, He it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Just as the vine transfers the things the branches need to grow and survive, so does Christ provide everything we need for our spiritual growth and survival.


The metaphor continues through the fruit that the branches bear. The branches are of no use if they produce no fruit. The vine and the branches were planted for a purpose but how does the branch bear fruit? Not by continually searching for sunshine and air, not by unproductive struggles. The branch simply abides in the vine, in silent and undisturbed union, and blossoms and fruit appear spontaneously.


How then shall a Christian bear fruit? By efforts and struggles to obtain that which is freely given? No: there must be a full concentration of the thoughts and affections on Christ; a complete surrender of the whole being to Him; a constant looking to Him for grace.” (Sermon Central)


Finally, our story brings its focus to the vinedresser. The vinedresser is God the Father who tends to and prunes the branches. He helps them to grow by pruning off the unproductive branches and, because they are of no use, He takes them away. Again, from John 15, “I (Jesus) am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes, that it may bear much fruit.”


Every branch that bears fruit must be pruned to bear much more fruit. Since buying our house, my wife and I have been planting bushes, flowers and trees to make it look more pleasant. We’re new at this so, when a landscaper gave us some tips, we eagerly listened. He said that, to bring our plants to their fullest potential, it was important to prune away any dead branches. He also said that by doing so, it would actually make the plants healthier.


Of course, this made me think of Jesus’ teaching illustration of the vine and the branches. If we are to gain our fullest potential, then we must allow God to prune the wilted friends, habits, thoughts, and possessions out of our lives. By allowing this to happen, we will grow stronger and bear more fruit for the Kingdom of God.


We will not only add to the Kingdom in quantity, but also in quality. The fruit we bear will be much more pleasing to God. Like David did, we must learn to ask God to search our hearts for any offense. David wrote, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting” (Psalm 139:23-24).


Jesus said that His Father prunes His children. The richest, fullest, most fruitful lives are those that have been strengthened through the painful process of tribulation. We have no right to think God will use us until He cuts away whatever may hinder our growth. What we see as tragedies may be only blessings in disguise, and the very opportunities through which God chooses to exhibit His love and grace. God cuts away the unusable only to make us more usable.


This parable is an excellent illustration of how all things work together. It shows the beauty that is possible if we trust in Christ, but it also demonstrates that some pruning is necessary in our lives so that we might grow to our greatest potential.


The vine will never stop doing what it must do for the branches so that they might produce the fruit they were planted to bear. In Malachi 3:11, God tells us, “I will rebuke the devourer for you, so that it will not destroy the fruits of your soil, and your vine in the field shall not fail to bear, says the Lord of hosts.”


Trust in the vine to give you all you need to grow in faith. Be patient with the vinedresser when He prunes away all the things that might hinder that growth. Bear much fruit because that is what you were planted to do. Please pray with me:


Heavenly Father, thank you for doing what you must to help us to grow. Thank You for the vine who has lived His life for the purpose of providing for the branches. Help us to bear much fruit and shield us from the devil’s attempts to uproot us. Amen.