Theme of the Week: Who Is Jesus?
Bible Verse: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. . . 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.” John 15:1,5
Scripture Reading: John 15:1-17
Our six grapevines give us more grapes than we can handle . . . almost. Concord grapes are my favorite, and, in my opinion, make the best grape juice. We have 4 concord vines, and two muscadine vines. The oldest of our vines is 9 years old.
Every year, in late winter, the vines need to be pruned. New fruit only comes on vines from the previous year’s growth. What that means is that fruit relies on the previous year’s growth. Vines that produced fruit last year will not produce fruit this year but will grow new vines/branches that will grow fruit.
This means that the pruning process is very important. Leaving too much old growth will result in growth that does not produce fruit, but instead simply sucks life-giving sap from those canes that do. On the flip side of that, even leaving too much from last year will result in weak fruiting. The key is to leave just the right amount of old growth so that the new growth produces the biggest clusters with the juiciest fruit. The one thing that never gets touched is the trunk. That is the essence of the vine. Through it, all the rest of the growth receives its nutrition to grow both new branches and new fruit.
Perhaps you know this analogy that Jesus made. He is the vine, and we are the branches. He is the source for all our life and growth. In the passage in John 15, he even discusses pruning. But there is something to remember about that. We cannot assume that it is only those branches that prove unfruitful that are pruned. On a grapevine, even those branches that have previously proved fruitful need to be pruned in order for that branch to continue bearing fruit. Far from a warning about perennially barren branches, this passage also speaks to those who have been fruitful. A season of fruit does not spare the branch. Instead, it virtually guarantees future pruning so that the branch can remain fruitful.
Leaving growth that no longer has the ability to fruit, but only leaf, sucks the vital, life-giving energy away from the fruit that is the object of the vine. In the same way, we may be pruned to remove those parts that no longer support the growth of fruit. As a result, we end up with branches that produce the biggest, juiciest, and most valued fruit, physically and spiritually.
Prayer: Jesus, thank you for being the conduit through which life flows. Help me to remain connected to you. Help me to understand that even fruiting branches need pruning to remain fruitful. I know there may be places that need to be pruned in my life. Help me to receive pruning in its season so that I can be more fruitful for you.
Reflection: What may need to be pruned in your life?
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