For the last couple of weeks I have been talking about various aspects of the passage of scripture found in John 15:1-17. Two weeks ago I spoke about John 15:13, and how the greatest act of love is to give up your life for another. Last week I spoke about abiding, remaining, in Jesus. (John 15:4-5)
This passage is the one in which Jesus tells the parable of the vine and the branches. The concept of healthy vines would have been very familiar to Jesus’ listeners, since growing grapes was a common agricultural activity, and it would not have been the first time that the vine was used as an allegory. Just as it is necessary for a branch to be connected to a vine to survive and bear fruit, we need to be connected to Jesus in order to bear spiritual fruit, to do things that will bring glory to our Heavenly Father. In order to bear the best fruit though, we must go through the pruning process.
The term translated as “takes away” (John 15:2) can also have the meaning of “lifts up”. If a branch was not producing fruit as it should, the gardener would lift it up to get more air and light and would prune away the dead wood of the branch. The word translated as “prunes” (John 15:2) has the meaning of “cleanses”. Pruning is not limited to cleaning away the bad parts of the branch; it also sometimes requires removing good parts to allow for better, and removing better parts to allow for the best. When our Heavenly Father, as our gardener, cleanses parts of our lives by changing our circumstances, it is because He has a better plan for us. He is helping us to produce not only more fruit, but much fruit, (John 15:5) fruit that will have lasting spiritual value, and will glorify God.