Monday, July 17, 2017

I am the vine....

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, and I will 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. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."  John 15:1-5

On the surface this is relatively easy to understand. Jesus establishes his role as the vine and his father's role as the gardener.  Both are vitally important in the business of bearing fruit. Notice it is the gardener who inspects every branch for fruit and those branches that are barren, he cuts them off.  There is no reason to continue nurturing a branch that is barren. It's a waste of water, fertilizer, and time if the branch does not produce fruit. When the gardener has finished his pruning, what remains is a healthy and productive vine. 

Can you see the illustration as it applies to our lives? Just as the gardener and the vine have connection with each other, so the connection between God the Father and Jesus the Vine is vital. It is from this connection that branches are formed and we know branches are where the fruit is produced. 

Having established the truth that occasional non-productive branches require a pruning, Jesus goes on with his illustration by emphasizing his role as the vine.  He gives us another truth which is easy to understand when he says, "No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me."  I am going out on a limb here (pun intended), when I tell you that every branch you see that produces fruit, is attached to the vine.  It is from the vine that nutrients and water are delivered to the branches and the result is fruit. That's why Jesus wants us to know that a Christian will not bear fruit unless he remains in Him. 

Then Jesus says it again, "I am the vine."  Meditate on that statement for a while and realize all the spiritual ramifications it implies.  Everything the branch needs to produce fruit is supplied by the vine. 

That truth is one we sometimes overlook.  We have a tendency to wave our own flag when great accomplishments are made in the life of the church. If a new program is introduced and becomes a success, we are quick to let everyone know it was our idea, our work, our leadership, and without us, it would have failed.
While we exercise the gifts of the Holy Spirit and become talented in certain areas, that does not mean the vine has stopped supplying everything necessary to produce fruit. We are to continually maintain our places as a fruit producing branch, connected to the vine which supplies everything we need. 

When good things happen and fruit is produced, give God the glory. When we find ourselves talented and equipped to be a part of that fruit, praise belongs to Jesus, the vine. 

Remember his words in John 15:5, "Apart from me, you can do nothing." What a joy to be a fruit producing branch, connected to the vine, tended carefully by the gardener. 


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