There’s a funny video where a young woman asks her grandfather how he likes the new iPad she gave him for Christmas. He says, “its great” as she watches him use his iPad as a cutting board for chopping his vegetables. She is horrified as he rinses it off in the sink and puts in the dishwasher!
In real life, it’s no laughing matter when you see something costly not being used to fulfill its intended purpose. Even worse is when people who know Jesus fail to live for the purpose for which He saved them. They drift through life like the lost people around them, living to accumulate more stuff that they think will make them happier before they die.
Main Idea: Jesus is the Vine who empowers us to live productive lives for God.
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Jesus used the illustration of a vine.
The Old Testament sometimes used a vine as an illustration of Israel.
- Psalm 80: 8-9 compares Israel to a vine that was taken out of Egypt and planted in Israel.
- The prophet Isaiah compared Israel to a vineyard that yielded nothing but bad grapes (Isaiah 5:1-7).
Jesus, by contrast, is the “true vine”.
- Unlike Israel, He is without sin.
- He bears fruit for God, and enables us to do the same.
- He said His Father is the “husbandmen” (or “vinedresser”).
- He takes care of the vine.
- He removes unproductive branches.
- He prunes branches to make them even more productive.
Bearing fruit is a main theme in this analogy. We see it both negatively and positively in John 15:2: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” So, to understand this metaphor, we need to know what Jesus means by fruit.
To bear fruit is to see God produce Christlikeness in you.
While the word is used widely in the New Testament, in this context it primarily refers to whatever the life of Christ produces in and through the believer who lives in close fellowship with Him. That includes obedience to Christ’s commandments and extends to all godly behavior (Matt. 7:20; Rom. 6:21) and conduct that is pleasing to the Lord (Eph. 5:9-10). It encompasses experiencing Jesus’ love, joy, peace and extend the list to include the other fruits (Gal. 5:22-23): “patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” It also refers to seeing people come to Christ through your witness (John 4:36). To sum it up, fruit is Christlike character, Christlike conduct, and Christlike converts.
Obviously, it takes time for fruit to grow. So don’t despair if you don’t see all of these qualities fully developed in your life yet. But if you are a Christian, you should see growth or progress in these things. You should be in the habit of obeying Christ. You should see the fruit of the Spirit increasing in your conduct. You should be hungering and thirsting after righteousness with increasing intensity. You should be looking for opportunities to tell others about the Savior.
Next, notice that God does some pruning. Uh Oh, that sounds painful!
John 15:2: …..every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”
I did some research this week and here is some of what I found out about pruning grapevines.
• Pruning is necessary for fruit bearing.
A vine that is not pruned will grow out of control. It will be long, tangled, and bushy. But the vine will not have enough energy left to produce fruit since all its energy is spent in developing size and foliage.
Do you ever have the feeling that in your life you’re doing more and more and accomplishing less and less? Maybe we need to learn something from this lesson of the vine. When we just keep running and doing more and more – we will hamper our fruitfulness. All our energy will go into maintaining our activities – so that we won’t have energy to develop fruit that will really make a difference in the kingdom of God.
The grapevine teaches us that we will be more productive if we limit our areas of activity and expansion.
Pruning must be severe.
“With any pruning system, at least 85 to 90 percent of the one-year old wood will be removed….This will allow the grapevines to maintain their structure…and enhance fruit quality.”
In order for a grapevine to reach it’s maximum effectiveness in producing fruit – the pruning process must be severe – almost ruthless. If dead or diseased parts of the branch are not removed, they will invite insects or rot to infect the entire vine. Not only are dead or dying branches removed from the vine, but also those parts of the branch that are bearing fruit need extreme pruning as well.
When God sees us, he sees our maximum potential for fruitfulness in his kingdom – and he knows how to get us to that point. As he looks at you perhaps there are parts of your life that are inviting disease and death into your life. Habits that you cling to. Sins that you love more than your Lord. Relationships that pull you away from obedience to His word.
But its not just these dead and dying areas of our lives that need pruning – even those areas that are producing fruit need pruning in order for us to be more fruitful in the future. I’ll explain this more as we look at the next thing I learned about pruning a grapevine…
Pruning must be done regularly.
Fruit does not grow on wood that is more than a year old. Fruit develops only on new growth. Unless the vine is pruned annually, it will grow out of control and lose it’s fruit bearing ability.
Did you catch that? The fruit only grows upon wood that is new growth. Last years parts of the vines may grow more vine – but it won’t bear fruit.
How does this apply? We need to be continually seeking new growth in our relationship with the Lord – because it is out of this new growth that we’ll start having an effect on our world around us.
We cannot be content to keep trying to do whatever seemed to work last year, or the year before that. We need to ask the Lord to help us grow TODAY in our relationship with Him.
No matter how successful and fruitful our lives or our church have been in the past we need to ask the Lord to prune us back on a regular basis and start a NEW work in us so that we might create a new harvest of righteousness and of souls for His Kingdom.
We dare not sit back as a church or as individuals and think that just because we’ve been blessed by the Lord in the past He will continue to bless us. We need to offer ourselves to him and say – Lord take my successes and prune them back so that I’m just as dependent upon you as I was before I had those successes.
Pruning is done by God.
Pruning is tricky work – and takes a good amount of knowledge. It’s best done by someone who knows what they are doing.
Our application of this truth is simple. God is the gardener. We’re not. We’re branches. And one branch can’t say to another – “You really need pruning!”
God is the only one who has the right to come and prune areas of our lives back. Because he is the one with the knowledge of what we’ll look like once we reach our potential.
You see, if it were up to us branches, we’d never prune ourselves. It’s to painful. If you look at a vineyard after it has been pruned in the early spring – it looks like a bunch of dead twigs. But the master gardener has in his minds eye the day of harvest. He can already see the beautiful, plentiful bunches of grapes that will soon be growing out of the spots he’s pruned. So it is with you and me.
We should ask ourselves on a regular basis:
Is your life bearing fruit?
Does God need to prune you in some areas?
Do you need some new growth?
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