While a tangled mass of cords and wires may not be very pretty (and pose a safety hazard too!), vines, on the other hand, are quite appealing when their tangled branches grace a trellis or the edges of a garden. Vines are really quite beautiful in my opinion. The graceful way they curl and twist about their host has such an artistic appeal. Cultivated vines, like the ones you see in a vineyard, are elegant and picturesque. But some vines, although visually appealing, rob both nutrients and oxygen from their host until they completely kill it. Covered with a massive and invasive vine the host appears to be full of life, but in reality, life is long gone. Good or bad, there is one common element in all vines. Unless the smaller branches are connected to the main branch, they will not produce fruit.
In John 15:1-11 Jesus uses imagery from the vineyard and proclaims, “I am the True Vine and My Father is the Vine-dresser” and, “I am the Vine and you are the branches”. As the “true” vine, Jesus is opposite of that which is false. Some vines may produce beautiful berries, but if they’re not edible, you’d better not eat them! As the Vine-dresser, God the Father cultivates the vine by pruning away dead branches when they cease to bear fruit. As the branches of Jesus’ vine, His disciples are to remain connected to Him. For some this passage may evoke concern over the permanence of salvation, but it’s very important to keep the principles you draw out of a passage within the context. The point here is not which branches will stay and which branches will be burned; the point is that fruitless branches are, well…without fruit! As any vintner knows, branches which don’t produce fruit deplete nutrients and water from the branches that do. So the branches which are healthy are therefore the ones the farmer wants to invest his time and energy on. Simply put, Jesus is conveying the idea that we should stay connected to Him because that is the way our lives will be fruitful. And not only will we be fruitful, we will also bring glory (doe-kah-zo) that is, recognition, honor and praise, to the One who tends our branch.
Jesus says it is a far greater accomplishment to bring God glory by producing fruit that He is pleased with (Gal. 5:22-23). It is obvious when you look at a natural vine to see the smaller branches connected to the larger and the larger connected to the root system. But we are speaking of a spiritual connection when we talk of Jesus as the Vine and we being His branches. What are the ways we stay connected to Him? There are three ways that come to mind. First, we stay connected to Him by communicating with Him in prayer (Mt. 6:5-13; Lk. 18:1-8; 1 Thes. 5:17; Js. 5:13-18). Secondly, we stay connected to the Vine when we are in His Word (Ps. 119:11-16, 105-106; Col. 3:16-17; 2 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 4:12; 1 Pet. 2:1-2). And thirdly we stay connected to the Vine when we are connected to His people (Ac. 2:43-47; 1 Cor. 11:33; Eph. 2: 14-21; 5:15-21; Heb. 10:24-25). Each one of these connections brings nutrients into our faith that help us to grow and mature as Christ wants us to (Lk. 8:11-15; Eph. 4:11-16; Heb. 5:13-14; 6:1) and enables us to produce the kind of fruit He desires.
Are you connected to the True Vine? If yes, then you will be producing the kind of fruit which makes others recognize Who is tending to your branch (Mt. 5:14-16 with a slightly different metaphor). But if you are not connected to The Vine, perhaps it is time to reconnect with Jesus, for by remaining separated from Him, you will not be able to produce the fruit He is looking for (Jn. 15:5). I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be a vine that has no grapes! Therefore I’m staying connected to THE Vine. How about you?
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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