No one has ever accused me of having a green thumb. As a child, I picked cherry tomatoes from plants and wondered why the plant did not produce more. As a young adult, I chopped the rose bushes back to the stump and watched them die rather than grow more flowers. This city girl did not have a clue, and Google wasn’t around to answer my questions. Now that I have studied John 15, I understand more about gardening. I am pretty sure the group to whom Jesus was speaking was a bit more familiar with vineyards.
Jesus used the story of the vineyard to explain what it meant to remain connected to Him. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5, NASB). The word abide is a verb. To abide in Christ carries the concept of actively attaching oneself to Christ. While the vine gives life to the branch, the branch must stay attached in order to produce fruit. The vine is the illustration Jesus used to explain the concepts found in John 14. He told the disciples that He was the only way to get to God (John 14:6), that He would work through them when connected to Him (John 14:12), and if they loved Him they would remain in Him and allow Him to prune them through the work of the Holy Spirit (John 14:15-21). Jesus told them to remain or abide in Him. No life would reproduce spiritually apart from Him. A Christ-filled life that abides in Him will produce other lives that also produce fruit.
God is the vinedresser, Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. God’s pruning comes as He corrects us. The pruning of the vine is given for directing the vine in order to produce the most fruit possible. When we stay connected or abide in Him, He can do many things through our lives. We allow Him to take things from our lives that are not the best things. We allow Him to work in our lives as we follow His commands, obey the things we know to do, and confess our sins. When we are sorry and turn from our wrongdoings (as well as repent of those things we should have done), the flow of the Holy Spirit is open in our lives. We actively remain in Christ by doing the things we know to do and following His lead. We know His desires because we spend time with God in prayer and read His Word. When we seek Him, He is there and ready to direct our every step. We grow in Him and allow Him to be the manager of our lives. John 15:8 says this, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples” (NASB).
Those cherry tomato plants and rose bushes didn’t produce fruit by themselves, although they might have done better without my intervention. They needed a vinedresser who knew what to do and how to prune plants to make them grow without cutting them off. God is that kind of gardener. He knows what is best and how we can be produce more fruit. He knows what He is doing. Our response is to glorify Him by remaining in Christ, the proof of sincere discipleship. And with this, there is great joy for us, as well as for the Lord.