Pruning the Branches
“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.” – John 15:1-2
This past weekend, my sermon was on the passage from John 15 where Jesus talks about being the vine and how we are the branches. He tells us to abide in him and He will abide in us and we will produce much fruit. He wants us to abide, or remain, in Him. In addition to Jesus calling Himself the vine, He calls the Father, the gardener. A gardener cares for plants in a variety of ways and Jesus focuses on two of them in this passage in verses 1 and 2.
First, the gardener cuts off dead branches that bear no fruit. Yikes! This is a warning. At first, the warning sounds like it’s all about our works and whether we are producing fruit, but later in the passage Jesus makes it clear that as branches, we bear fruit simply because we are remaining in Him, apart from Him we cannot bear fruit. So, it’s not about our works (we aren’t saved by our works), the fruit is just the symptom of the real issue, not remaining in Christ. You can see how important it is to Jesus that we remain in Him.
Second, the gardener prunes the branches that do bear fruit (that remain in Christ). Pruning involves cutting away parts of the branch so that new growth can occur and more fruit is produced, though the word used here for pruning can also mean, “to clean”. God cleans away the things in our lives that pull us away from Him or encumber us and washes away the sin. This strengthens us, causes new growth, and produces more fruit.
However, pruning isn’t always enjoyable. Sometimes God’s puts us through some pretty difficult times to draw us closer to Him and help us to learn to trust Him more. The Father wants us to remain in Jesus, to abide in the vine. Often time, in the midst of struggle, we draw closer to Jesus. A lot of times we associate struggle and hard times with punishment, that God is angry at us; but I think more often God is simply pruning our lives to draw us closer to Him.
How wonderful it is that we have a Father/gardener that loves to connect us to the life-giving vine of Christ and cares enough to prune us and clean us that we would remain in Jesus, the vine, and have Jesus remain in us.