I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. John 15:1 NIV
Have you ever seen a vineyard? I’m not talking about simply seeing a picture of one, but actually walking through one; getting up close to the beauty of that system.
When I was a kid, I often dreamt of driving down to wine country just so I could sample that way of life…for just a bit. Granted, I’ve since learned and discovered that there are vineyards right here in Minnesota/South Dakota/Wisconsin…right in our own region!
J.C. Ryle notes the union between the vine and its branches as “the whole secret of the branch’s life, strength, vigor, beauty, and fertility. Separate from the parent stem, it has no life of its own.”
Imagine with me if you will…a vineyard. Imagine a single vine. The branches grow only from the main vine, never from another branch. After harvest, the fruit-bearing branches are pruned back to within an inch or two of the trunk. There, they abide in the main vine for most of the year as the trunk grows around them. Come the next harvest season, the vine will have grown out rapidly and bear new fruit.
Sap is the life that circulates through each vine. It contains every nutrient needed for quality fruit bearing. So that the sap is not wasted, non-fruit bearing branches are cut off and cast into the fire. The only goal of any vinedresser is abundant, superior fruit.
The same goes for our connection to God. Jesus came as the Vine. His Spirit is the sap that gives us life as long as we abide in Him. Evidence that each branch is attached to the vine is much fruit. No root – no fruit. Dependence is the key to fruit bearing. Even Jesus, the Son, was dependent on the Father. “By myself I can do nothing…” John 5:30 NIV.
Vine branches creep and crawl and need support. As Jesus is dependent on the Father, so we, as branches are dependent on Jesus as the Vine. Apart from Him, we can do nothing. We must abide in Jesus to have eternal life and bear much fruit in Him. To abide means to stay; remain stable; wait for patiently; to suffer for; to endure.
Pruning is a normal process in the vineyard. “He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it becomes even more fruitful.” (John 15:2)
As Jesus, the True Vine, conformed to the will of His Father, the Gardener, so must we conform to Jesus’ will. As Jesus obeyed, in full dependence and devotion; so must we. Our job as Christ-followers is to remain in Him. To remain means to continue to believe that He is the Son of God and thus continue to follow and obey Him. If we will remain in Him, He will remain in us and we’ll produce much fruit.
The Message paints it perfectly: Joined with Jesus “the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing … I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, He gives you” (John 15, MSG).
Jesus is asking that we “hang with Him.” And whatever you ask…He gives you. What a promise!
Continue to live in Jesus, the True Vine. “Hang with Him,” and He will bless you beyond what you can imagine.