Today’s passage: John 15:1–17
Focus verse: “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.” (John 15:5)
Farmers who grow grapes and fruit know a truth that seems counterintuitive to everyone else. An unpruned vine or tree doesn’t produce much fruit, if any.
To the uninformed, it seems backward. Logic suggests that the more branches, the more fruit. But this isn’t the case.
Though a vine or fruit tree may have many branches loaded with flowers, too many blossoms produce small and undesirable fruit, which are worthless for sale and of little use.
In extreme cases it produces no fruit. This is because the plant divides its sustenance between all the branches and flowers. If it has too many blossoms, none of the blooms receive enough nourishment to thrive. As a result, the harvest disappoints.
Given this, wise farmers prune their grapes and fruit trees with care. With practiced skill, they cut off the weak branches, the damaged limbs, and the competing boughs so that the remaining healthy ones can thrive and produce much fruit.
So it is with us and Jesus.
This word picture of vine and branches helps us better understand our Messiah. He is the vine (such as a grapevine or a fruit tree), and we are the branches.
In this, Jesus is the source of our nourishment. He’s the giver of life. He is the means of our support, our sustenance, and our existence. Without him we are nothing and can do nothing.
For us, as branches, we completely depend on him. We can produce fruit only through him. Just as farmers trim fruit trees and grapevines to produce more fruit, so too, God prunes us to be more productive for him.
A more sobering thought is cutting off unproductive branches from the vine. What a horrifying image, to have our life severed from Jesus. Yet, even if our unproductive nature has separated us from Jesus, we have hope.
Paul mentions branches grafted—that is, reattached—back onto the tree. The grafted branch can again receive life-giving sustenance and survive.
Later in John, Jesus reminds us that he loves us, chooses us, and appoints us to bear fruit for him. Take comfort in this and go produce fruit.
- What fruit are you producing?
- Is your attention divided between too many things? What can you eliminate so you can produce more fruit?
- How open are you to Jesus pruning you to produce more?
- What must you change to make sure you’re getting your nourishment from him?
- If you ever feel lopped off from the vine, do you believe Jesus can graft you back?
Discover more about grafted branches in Romans 11:11–24. What insights can you glean from this passage?
Read more in Peter’s new book, Living Water: 40 Reflections on Jesus’s Life and Love from the Gospel of John, available everywhere in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.
Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices.