John 15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes [a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me as I also 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. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is
thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
One of my favorite things about summer is the chance to have a garden and watch seeds grow from tiny seeds into plants taller than me sometimes. This summer I planted a spaghetti squash seed for the first time. The tiny seed I planted in the spring has now become a huge plant, growing into a vine so big that it keeps spreading into the neighbor’s yard and crowding many of
my other plants. At first I tried to wind it around our fence to keep it climbing there, but that vine continued to spread and really wanted to bear fruit next door too! It has forced me to really watch to see which branches have the flowers turning to fruit and which do not so that I can determine which to remove.
The branches I cut off are tossed away, turning brown and withering very quickly. While I have removed many branches and seen withered plants over the years, this particular squash plant has been so prolific with fruit (which not everyone in my household is thrilled about!) and grown into such a large vine, it has really been a good practical lesson for me regarding this passage.
Fruit doesn’t grow unless it is attached to the vine. But, flowers/branches attached to the vine can grow bigger and bigger producing exponentially more seeds than I started with in April. It is clear from the book of John that is true of us also. It is a nice picture really, but one we should take seriously considering what happens to the branches in verse 6. God is the perfect creator and gardener. He knew we couldn’t bear fruit alone and sent His son, Jesus, to be our mediator and through his sacrifice and forgiveness we are able to have a relationship with God and bear fruit for His glory. To bear fruit we must remain on the vine. If you read further in John 15 you will see some descriptions of what remaining in the vine involves. Keeping the commands of Jesus, laying down our lives for other followers of Jesus, and loving one another as we have
But, we aren’t asked to do it alone. We are asked to bear fruit alongside other believers growing in love and obedience to Jesus together. And we aren’t told to do it just so we aren’t cast away and die. In fact, we are appointed to do it “so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete (v.11)”. God’s master gardener plan is to bring us joy, and that can be found nowhere but in Him.