I have to admit, I am not an avid gardener. As much as I love the fruits of my labor at the end of the summer, I just don’t have the green thumb I wish I did. I am not patient nor willing to put a lot of time in it!
The pages of John 15 in my bible are worn from reading and re reading over the years. What has been difficult to understand is the part that even the good, well producing branches are still sometimes pruned and cut by the gardener in order to produce more fruit. Just like with my vegetable garden, the only way to control growth and promote new fruit flowers is to prune. But pruning is a painful process. It can be painful to the gardener and the branches. As a beginner gardener myself, I always have a hard time knowing exactly what to prune, how far back to cut and how frequently. I worry over it and am often way to conservative with my pruning to the point that my fruit growth is stunted. But God is never afraid to do the pruning and he always knows just when to prune and how much.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He 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.”
How and when this pruning- changing, molding, cleansing is done is completely up to the gardener. Apart from his pruning and nurturing, growth is stunted, slowed and even stopped. Because I am still learning this process in the garden, often my vegetables are not as fruitful as they could be or even die three quarters of the way through the summer. I recently learned that where I go wrong with the pruning in my vegetable garden is that I am not careful with where I make my cuts. Instead of making small cuts to the branches I make large cuts to the branches and stop the growth altogether. But the Lord always knows exactly where and when to cut.
“For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
The process is simple. Not easy but simple. Staying close to the vine is the only way receive life. Jesus is that vine.
“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.”
And what happens to those who don’t stay close?
“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.”
Our fruit production is simply to bring glory to the Lord. The mark of a true disciple is by the fruit that they produce but this is not simply a matter of the wills. It requires daily dependence on the Lord and reliance on Christ for strength and life, day in and day out. It requires daily obedience in order to abide and remain in Christ and produce fruit that brings glory to the Father.
When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
I am comforted when I read this passage. I can’t produce fruit on my own and I’m not responsible for the pruning process but only to remain in Christ and obey. Neither are an easy or painless process but remaining attached to the vine assures me complete security and life.