I am the True Vine John 15:1 – 11
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a]
so that it will be even more fruitful. 3
You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6
If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10
If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
The good news of this passage is that God is using our lives for His glory. We are not facing life with no one to guide, support or help us. We are not lost without any direction or nothing to fix our eyes on. The good news is that we are the body of Christ! We have been given this beautiful image that we are the branches attached to the Vine. And, even better, God is the Vinedresser overseeing everything. Looking out for us, making us abide in Christ and painfully trimming us back to make us more like His Son.
This year is probably the first year I have put any thought into my garden (and I’ve had it for five years!). With lockdown resulting in me being stranded at home, I could no longer make any plans to be out and about. So…I went to the garden! I’ll be honest, it is not a very pretty or inviting space. Learning of the true ugliness of the garden, I invested in a Fuchsia. I picked it up at the local Spar (I am not even green fingers enough to go to a garden centre). I watered it every single day. It had big, beautiful pink buds and shiny green leaves when I bought it. Within a week it was dead. I was devastated! With some expert advice, I pruned it back. I thought it couldn’t look any worse. Wrong. When it was pruned I was left with a few wee brown twigs. I was totally gutted.
Much like life, there are times when things go from good to bad. Or bad to worse. Maybe you can relate? There are times when we can envision things that might happen and they never do, or they take a lot longer than planned. We can feel totally deflated. However, these things happen because we are all set on our own plan, our own agenda and our own goals. This passage reminds us, in all circumstances, our life is for God. We are not in control. We cannot know what will happen next. And, when life is disappointing, something disheartening happens or you get a result you didn’t want. Turn to John 15. God is pruning us, making us cling to Christ. Without Christ we cannot bear fruit (v4). And bearing fruit is how we show we are disciples (v11).
When my plant was trimmed back, I never thought it would possibly grow again. But, it came back. Bigger, healthier and more beautiful than before. That painful trimming made it look awful, but I had to do it in faith that it would save the plant! When God is pruning you back, trust that He is doing it so you will bear more fruit (v1). It might not look good but He can use it for good.
As we read this passage, we, as the branches, need to abide in Christ the vine. But, what is abiding in Christ (v4)? Branches need the vine to continue to grow. This is where nourishment comes from so they can grow and produce fruit. Just like branches, we need to get our nourishment from the only vine that gives life - Christ. Abiding in Christ is where we will get our sustenance. To do this we need a daily relationship with Him. Turning from sin and trusting in Christ our Saviour who died for us. It is a lifelong commitment. It is a commitment we share with all of God’s people which means getting involved in our local church and supporting our other believers who are also branches. To follow Him and to get the food we need, we have to pray to Him, trust Him and commit to the calling of obedience (v10).
We can trust that God is watching us grow, making the decision when we need trimmed with the aim of making us more beautiful. Without Christ (v5) nothing we do matters, our goal on earth is like the GB motto: Seek, Serve and Follow Christ. This is the attitude we need to adapt as we live as Christians. Actively seeking Christ, wanting to serve Him, and bearing fruit for His sake. Knowing our lives point others to the vine and ultimately the Vinedresser. However, none of this is ordained without God. The Vinedresser, making all the final decisions for His people.
May this image of a vine spur you on today. No matter how you have been pruned or are being pruned by God. No matter how hard, sore or sad it is. If you aren’t abiding in Christ, maybe now is the time to become a branch that belongs to Him? Because God can, and will, prune it for His glory. Trust the Vinedresser, He knows what He is doing even if it doesn’t feel like it. Verse 11 confirms the motive of our pruning and fruit is joy! He is filling us up with joy, even if the pruning process doesn’t feel like it.