“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:2
During biblical times, the vineyard produced one of the most important commodities for the community. Grapes! The sweet fruit was the sustenance that sustained everyone, from kings in palaces to village peasants. Grapes were dried and stored to be consumed months after they stopped growing. Sugar was extracted from the fruit and used as a main ingredient in meals, and juice was pressed from grapes to make wine. Whatever was left over after harvesting was given to the poor, widows, orphans and sojourners to pick and eat as much as they could carry.
Cultivating a productive vineyard was the job of the vinedresser. Without their expertise, the vineyard would perish. He needed to have an intimate relationship with the vineyard, know the soil and what he needed to do to get the most growth out of the vines. Every vinedresser needed to know the cycle of the vineyard: that fruit should not be collected for the first three years after planting; that the “first fruit” (Deuteronomy 26: 1-2) during the fourth year was to be set aside as a sacrifice to God; that the vineyard needed rest during the seventh year. He also needed to understand the art of pruning, and how doing so would help the vines to produce grapes abundantly.
Pruning for a Purpose
That night in the vineyard, Christ and his disciples walked through rows of grapes hanging off the vine. Jesus shared an important message before the Roman guards came to take him away. “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so it will be even more fruitful.”
Just as the vinedresser carefully cut shoots off the vine with the pruning hook, God removes the things from our lives that stifle our growth and keep us from producing for the Kingdom. Our pruning hook may look like a job that pushes us past our limits or relationship that needs to end. It may be God encouraging you to be compassionate with someone who is not deserving, or forgiving someone who hurt you.
God’s pruning is not meant to hurt us, it is meant to purge us of the things that are keeping us from operating at full capacity for the Lord. It is disconnecting us from the overgrowth of laziness and complacency, negative self-talk, selfishness and impatience with others. It is the cutting off of fear, doubt, and belief that we are incapable of doing what He asks of us by placing us in situations where we are forced to rely on Him. God knows “the plans He has for us, plans to prosper us and not to harm us, plans to give us hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11). Those plans require God to prune us from things, people and ways of thinking that are blocking us from operating in the purpose He has for our lives. Our job is to allow God to do His work within us so we can produce for His Kingdom abundantly.
Over the next 11 weeks, I will be sharing what Christ meant when he called for his disciples to “abide in me” that night in the vineyard, and how that same word applies to our lives through my summer blog series “Abide in Me”. We will study one verse every Wednesday between November 1st and December 27th, in order to understand what abiding in God means, and how it leads to a life of abundance.
Don’t fall behind! Catch up on Week 1, John 15:1 in the “Abide in Me” series. Let me know you're following the "Abide in Me" series using these hashtags:#AbideInMe #FallInTheWord #CherishedflighttheBlog