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March 9, 2021
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
I am no gardener, but apparently Jesus knew his onions - or perhaps we should say Jesus knew his vines. Vine branches must be pruned on an annual basis in order to ensure the vine has adequate nutrients to produce high quality grapes. If the vine branches are not properly maintained, the grapes will suffer.
According to Jesus’ analogy, he is the true vine and we are the branches. Just as a branch cannot survive if disconnected from the vine, so we can do nothing apart from him. Not only do we need to abide in Jesus as the branch abides in the vine, we also need to be pruned in order to bear even more fruit. God needs to apply his hand to our lives as our vinedresser in order to ensure that we continue to grow in Christ.
Interestingly, the somewhat unusual word Jesus uses for “prune” in verse 2 is very similar to the word he uses for “clean” in verse 3. There is a connection between pruning and the state of being clean before God. Jesus seems to be saying that the disciples have already been “pruned” through the word that Jesus has spoken to them, but they can expect more pruning to come so that they can bear even more fruit. But notice God the Father is the one doing the pruning through the word of God the Son. We are on the receiving end of this work of grace. It is the word of the gospel that cuts away lesser loves and loyalties and trains us to fix our hearts and minds on Jesus above all else.
How have you experienced God’s pruning in your life? What has God cut away in order to make you more fruitful?