Jesus’s teaching on the vine and the branches describes the life-giving union that we have with Jesus. In John 15:5 he says, “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” (NLT). Here is the true potential of every believer. Our connection to Jesus releases life and power that transforms our inability (apart from me you can do nothing) into the promise of bearing abundant fruit!
There is, however, one thing that needs to take place in order for this mega-fruitfulness to be released: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit (v. 2 NKJV).” Many Christians experience anxiety over the idea that God the Father is going to prune them! For those who suffer from “pruning panic”, the wine growing practices of the first century (which Jesus and his disciples were very familiar with) sheds a lot of light on what “pruning” actually means.
In verse 2, the words “take away” can also be translated “lifted up.” For those who kept vineyards at this time the “cleaning and preparation” of the vines was performed in the early growing season in order to insure a maximum harvest. Most of this cleaning was done by hand and involved removing little branches, shoots and sucker growth that would prevent the plants from directing their energy into producing the highest quality grapes. Also, some healthy, but non-fruit bearing branches were lifted up off of the ground and attached to a pole or trellis which allowed them to grow and produce leaves which would feed the older, fruit bearing branches. The following season, these branches that had been “lifted up” would come into their time of fruit bearing.
The idea is that every plant needs tending and the removal of non-essential growth in order to bear the best fruit. Pruning is not God’s punishment but His way of preparing us for great things! Too many distractions and resource draining activities in our lives prevent good outcomes. God’s method of pruning does not involve an axe or shears but the wise, loving, tender touch of His hand. Our heavenly Father personally works with us to eliminate the non-essentials from our lives and to prepare us for sweetness ahead!
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Harvest time is coming!