“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 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 more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. “
4 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. “
7 “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.“
Both Jesus and Father God are involved here—we see that right away in verse 1. They both are at work very hard in our own lives, especially me; I’m a work in progress!
He prunes—the work of a good vinedresser. The knife is kept very sharp and the dead stuff is always being chopped off. He wants things to be healthy and flourishing, the vine is constantly assessed to see exactly how it’s doing. Fruit (for us the Holy Spirit) must be seen or else. If it’s not green, off it goes! The vine must bear fruit!
In verse 3 we can grasp the role of the Word in this spiritual “butchering.”
The secret in all of this is something called “abiding.” That idea gets repeated and repeated again so we don’t forget. Abiding is the whole point. The vine—branch—fruit analogy is a remarkable concept which explains the very essence of an authentic Christian life. It explains exactly what is happening.
So what? Have you wondered why the Father hasn’t taken us home already? Why not just escort us straight into his presence when we do get saved, what’s the hold-up here anyway?
This parable tells us that it’s the fruit that matters. We must bear fruit, even in adverse conditions. As a matter of fact, the grapes get good when the weather is hotter—that explains much, doesn’t it?
Verse 6, is crystal. If it abides (stays connected) it stays on. If it doesn’t it’s dead–and hence the knife. Just two possibilities, it’s simple folks, not rocket science. Let’s not mystify it, or look for hidden meanings. When Jesus taught, there weren’t any complications; a little child would be able to understand, and that was his intention.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.”
Life automatically comes to the attached. We can “do nothing” on our own. Without the knife—and without abiding, we go nowhere. And simple abiding, staying attached or connected, is the only way the Christian life works. That’s why prayer and praise are such an issue. When you do these, you’ll stay nice and green and grapes (“the fruit of the Spirit”) just happen.
Don’t spiritually strain or grunt—just be. Stay connected through the Christian disciplines (prayer, praise, Bible thinking and reading…etc:) and then there will be no end to the green!
“Prayer comes spontaneously from those who abide in Jesus… Prayer is the natural outgushing of a soul in communion with Jesus.”
Art by Eugène Burnan