Summary: Am I connected to the Vine? If not, I need to be re-connected.
November 4, 2007 – John 15 ‘The Vine and the Branches’
Gardening, it’s something many people like to do, especially here in Victoria where you can usually do it year round. How many folks here are the ‘garden variety’, green-thumb, can make anything grow, win a prize at the Saanich Fair kind of people? There are so many different kinds of gardens. Flower gardens, vegetable gardens, gardens for display, gardens for food. Some may be as small as a window planter, and others are huge farms that cover hundreds, maybe thousands of acres. When we drove down to California, we saw mile after mile of farms and plantations growing everything from tomatoes to oranges. One of the most well-known things from California, besides oranges, are the vineyards. Ah yes, California wines. There are over 4400 wine-grape growers in California. The state is the world’s 4th largest wine producer behind Italy, France and Spain, shipping over half a billion gallons of wine a year. But whatever the size of your garden, the one thing they all have in common is their need for care. And vineyards need a lot of care. I found a list of areas that need specific attention when caring for a vineyard. They include:
At the top of that list is pruning, cutting parts off. But what do you cut? Give me a pair of shears and I could do some serious hacking! But what would result is probably a dead plant. It takes skill to do it right, otherwise you are likely to hurt the vine rather than help it.
And that’s what we’re going to look at tonight in our scripture form the Gospel of John, chapter 15. This passage was the very first one that I gave a message from. Back in 1989 when I was in Mexico with YWAM, I spoke on this passage in a little church in the middle of Monterey, in an area hit hard from the hurricane that came through the previous fall. I didn’t dig out those notes, but I’m sure God has something to say to us here tonight as we look into His word.
John 15: The Vine and the Branches
1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes [Greek - cleans] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will 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.
5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
1) Jesus is the TRUE vine. It’s not clearly defined where Jesus and his disciples were when he taught them these things. Perhaps as they were leaving the upper room they passed by a vineyard, and Jesus used it as a spiritual illustration. He says that he is the TRUE vine. That would suggest that there are FALSE vines out there as well. Jesus is genuine. He’s no fake. He’s not a plastic imitation or silk look-alike. He’s the real deal. True life is found only in Him!
There’s nothing like the real thing! Imitations may look like the actual, but that’s where the similarities end. In Isaiah Chapter 5, you can read about how God calls Israel the vineyard of the Lord Almighty. Jesus may be referencing this passage in Isaiah, now naming Himself as the Vine, the One from whom the Kingdom of God grows, the only source of real fruit.
2) God the Father is the gardener. He’s the owner. He owns the land, He owns the Vine, He owns it all. And He is the one who looks after the garden. In our gardens, someone has to plant the seed, water it, fertilize it, make sure it gets enough light, harvest the fruit, and keep the plants well trimmed so they produce as much fruit as possible. One of the key things to looking after a vine, or any climbing plant or flower, is to prune it. And this is what Jesus says the Father does. He prunes the branches. I found some info on the web about what needs to be done when pruning a vine. Listen to this: (from Brooklyn Botanical Gardens)