John 15: 1-8
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 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.
5 “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. 6 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. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
In John 15, Jesus refers to Himself as the vine and the Father as the gardener. When I envision this, I see the Father as the one who tends to the vine and its fruit. The gardener, the Father is responsible for the care of vine by providing all it needs to grow and sustain itself. The vine, Jesus, is what connects the fruit to the gardener. He is the channel through which nutrients flows to the fruit. We are the fruit. We are products of the vine and there is no life apart from it.
At times, I have felt the strain of being disconnected from the vine. During these times, an emptiness and dryness of the soul exists. We were created to remain in tandem with the triune nature of God. This is why there will never be true peace outside of Him. We were created in His likeness and His image. His signature is written all over and in us. This is why our spirit hungers for connection. When we fail to attach ourselves to the truth of who He is, we find ourselves looking for nourishment in dry places. Such places lead us into a state of spiritual malnutrition and eventually emaciated if we stay there too long. Along the vine, there is life flowing through and satisfaction. Such satisfaction is never achieved when we find ourselves in dry places. We are left empty because there is no sustenance capable of providing what only our Father can give.
The Father’s purpose for us staying on the vine is to allow us to be positioned for growth. While on the vine, we are close to Him so He can inspect us for parasites, the influence of the enemy, and signs of damage. It is the Holy Spirit that is the Fruit Inspector. He reports anything unusual back the Father so He can remove or prune anything that may be a threat to us flourishing. Then, the Father carefully goes along the vine, using His word as a guide, and cuts off anything that is not like Him.
Is there life outside the vine? In nature, the fruit separates from the vine and its seeds are dispersed to allow reproduction. However, if the fruit separates prematurely then it will not reach its full potential. God wants us to reach our full potential in Him. Therefore, we are instructed to remain connected. When we fail to do so, we stunt our spiritual growth. Also, we hinder the progress of spiritual reproduction in ourselves as well as those connected to us. In the natural, the seed is physical but in the spirit, our seeds are spiritual. When we remain on the vine, we can receive from the Father via the true vine and the Holy Spirit. Eventually, God’s word takes root in our souls and is shared with those connected to us. As a result, the kingdom of God grows and our fruit remains.
As we mature, we should be able to identify when there is a disconnect between us and the Father. There are also times when we may feel that we are distant from Him. During those times, we are instructed in James 4:8 to, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you”. Like the prodigal son, the Father is always waiting for us with open arms. When these times arise, we need to come to our senses like the son and return to the Father. He wants us close so He can protect and guide us. He wants us to find refuge in His presence and peace in His perfect love.
Friends, there is life in the vine.