The Vine and the Branches

LIFE ON THE VINE  Jesus says in John 15:7, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” I have been on a quest to understand this promise of asking and have concluded that Jesus is referring to the prayers of the vine: prayers that are instinctively in alignment with God’s will because remaining on the vine is the one and only object of one’s desire. Notice how many times Jesus says the word remain in these verses. John 15:5-7 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 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.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”

Jesus uses beautiful imagery to help us understand how we can have a divine partnership

What does it mean to remain? One Definition:   To stay behind in the same place.   Imagine a young girl standing on a street corner with her mother.  The mother has her hand gently planted on the child’s shoulder.  They are waiting for the light to turn green so they can cross the street.  The girl does not see any cars coming from either direction and flexes with the intention to run across the street.  Just then a car zooms by and the child is startled but then remains as she realizes the boundaries set by the light and her mother have protected her.  Just like this child who has learned a valuable lesson of remaining on that street corner until the signal indicates she can cross, I want to explore and obey the deep truths Jesus teaches about remaining on the vine. How do we go ahead of God?  2nd Definition:  to be left after the removal, loss, destruction of all else.  This aptly describes what happens after pruning.  Have you ever felt like God pruned your branch down to the nub where there as practically nothing left?  When has God pruned you? We need to recognize when we are in the pruning season. Loss of finances, possessions, loss of influence, position or opportunity are times to refocus rather that retreat.  God is redirecting us.   For the physical vine, the gardener’s pruning requires the removal of dead, diseased or damaged stems.  Dead stems attract insects and invite diseases to develop.  Pruning cuts, rids and removes anything superfluous or undesirable.   For the spiritual vine, God’s Word helps remove all the dead and diseased thought patterns from our lives because these thought patterns cause our hearts to become diseased:  thoughts full of bitterness, complaints, discouragement, disbelief, cynicism, jealousy, pride, unforgiveness, competition, lust, greed, lack of love, apathy and the list goes on.  Colossians 3:8-14 Pruning cuts out the bad so that new growth can occur.  This process puts life back into us.   Read Hebrews 4:12-13 However, just like too much pruning can stress the vine and cause it to die, over pruning in our lives can cause harm to our faith and hearts.   This is where God’s mercy comes in. God’s pruning of those who are remaining on the vine is for the purpose of stimulating growth in sparse areas and to restrict growth where too much growth is undesirable. If you allow God to prune you, your life will be in perfect balance – even during a trial or in the middle of your pain. The good will be so good and the difficult will be full of purpose in your life.   God is intentional, appropriate and timely in his pruning of each soul on the vine.  Consider these verses when you think of why God prunes us with mercy.   Psalms 103:13-14 13 As a father has compassion on his children, so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him; 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. 1 Corinthians 10:13 13 No temptation (The Greek for temptation can also mean testing and tested) has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Why does God prune us? God prunes us so that He can answer more of our prayers.  When we are pruned on the vine we learn to abide in Christ, which in turn results in the freedom to ask God “whatever you wish, and it will be done for you (John 15:7).   God prunes us so that we will bring glory to Him.  Giving glory to God is impossible in the heart of the person who does not have in mind the things of God but rather the things of men.  But when remaining in Christ is your highest desire, then bringing glory to God is your main concern and in doing so God will lift you up.  1 Peter 5:6 God prunes us so that we will bear more fruit.  Galatians 5:22-23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. All of these attributes are so intricately woven into your mind and heart that they persist during the very difficult seasons of your life.  God prunes us to strengthen our salvation.  When we choose to remain on the vine, the pruning of God strengthens our assurance of salvation and our heavenly inheritance from the Father.  Hebrews 12:7-8 7 says that God’s discipline of us proves He is our father. 

  1. Are you remaining on the vine and receiving the life-giving benefits of abiding in Christ?
  2. Are you grateful for merciful pruning that God is doing in your life or do you resist it?
  3. What can you name in your life today is an example of God pruning you so that you will be even more fruitful?