Summary: Successful Christians produce fruit by staying connected...abiding in Jesus.
I don’t know a lot about vines and grapes. I once had a neighbor that had some. He was planning to make wine in his garage. That was pretty aggressive for a guy in Birmingham Alabama.
The first couple of years he had lots of vines and he spent lots of time arranging them on his trestles and wires. But, I don’t guess he got many if any grapes.
In the fall after his 2nd year I thought he had given up. I noticed a really big pile of vines out by the road for the city to haul off. I could see up on the hill the trellises were empty and it looked like the vines were totally gone.
As for me, I guess I am plant challenged. I have never had any luck with any vegetables or flowers except one year. I had a couple of rose bushes that did well until they died over the winter.
I don’t know how many of you know anything about grapes, but I know that some of you know tomatoes. So, I want to remind you of that knowledge to help our understanding.
I have in-laws that know tomatoes very well. Not too many years ago they were able to plan their tomato year so that from early in the summer to fairly late in the fall they had fresh ones always coming in.
You can go by there anytime in the summer and have a fresh “homegrown” tomato sandwich.
When I tried to grow tomatoes, I thought I was doing well. The plants shot up, they were so dark green. They must have been 4 feet tall. They really grew lots of branches and leaves. They looked so healthy.
But they did not seem to want to actually make many tomatoes. In fact we only got a hand full of small, puny, hardly even red pieces of fruit. Definitely not worth the materials and work I put into them.
My in Laws made it look so easy.
After my failure, my in-laws gave me lots of advice.
I was told, when the plants are transplanted, you need to nip off the lowest leaves and plant them in deep. Just the top leaves showing.
As they grow, the little “suckers” that grow at the junction of the main branches and the stem need to be taken off.
They also told me about mysterious invisible creatures called nematodes and ways of dealing with them.
--- I almost sat outside all night waiting to catch those little guys.
---- But I started to worry a little, these folks were my “in-laws”
I decided that they were pulling my leg.
Nanny (my grandmother in-law) told me you need to prune a little all summer long and then just before the first frost, ….. something you find in the farmers almanac combined with a particular feeling in your bones, then you need to prune the plant for the last harvest.
She said that the secret of pruning is to trick the plant into thinking that it is dying so it will produce and ripen all the tomatoes it can.
Basically, stripping the leaves off the plant makes the rest of the small tomatoes suddenly grow and mature.
I didn’t know so much was involved in getting tomatoes for a few sandwiches.
There is a lot of stuff you have to know.
Stuff you have to do right in the first place and along the way.
And then at the end of the growing season, you gotta practically kill the plant to get the fruit to grow and mature fully so you can enjoy the last burst of fruit before winter starts.
In our scripture Jesus is talking to the disciples, as they are walking toward the garden of Gethsemane. Their path may have taken them by the temple gates which is said to have had Grape vine sculptures between the, or perhaps as they crossed the valley passed through a vineyard where Jesus starts teaching.
It is easy to imagine that He would point to a grape vine or a symbol, point and start the conversation.
He describes himself as the vine…the true vine and his father as the vinedresser.
If Jesus is the vine, that basically means that He is the one that has the connection to the soil and water. He is the base of the plant.
Looking at the bigger view he is the way of salvation for Israel. He is the one connection to God, the messiah.
The vinedresser, God, is the planter and cultivator.
When Jesus speaks to the disciples and even to us today, he never directly explains that the believers are involved….I am not sure that he should have to.
He just goes into describing connections and he talks about branches.