Jesus said to his disciples: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and every one that does he prunes so that it bears more fruit. You are already pruned because of the word that I spoke to you. Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me will be thrown out like a branch and wither; people will gather them and throw them into a fire and they will be burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you. By this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.”
If you’re already a “Fruit-Bearer” (one who lives the Word and desperately tries to bring others to God), the Gospel is a great reminder to remain with the “True Vine” (Jesus). Jesus prunes His Fruit-bearing Vines with His Word, so that they will continue to bear “Fruit” and, possibly, even more “Fruit”. Jesus is clear in the Gospel that we cannot continue to bear “Fruit” if we are not pruned. For anyone that has even a beginner’s knowledge of what it takes to grow grapes (or crops), this makes Perfect Sense – and, it should. And it also makes sense that a Farmer, Orchard Manager, or Vineyard Owner would want to prune their plants, trees, vines, etc. while cutting out the non-fruit bearing branches… A critically important, self-reflective question for us all is how well do we “Bear Fruit” for Jesus? Let’s really think about that…let the question “ferment” in our Souls. Hillsong United (a Christian music group) shared in a concert once that an orange must first endure a frost (God’s Pruning) before it can become sweet and attain its optimal ripeness. God’s Pruning in this life is hard and, at times, it can hurt us deeply. But God never wastes our pain, suffering, or hard work in His Name. He Prunes us so that we, too, can Grow in Him. Hillsong went on to share in that same concert some encouragement – they shared that if we’re going through a tough frost (pruning) in our lives, we’re to just hang on as we’re just sweetening up for the Lord. While most of us can’t see the End-Result and Goodness in all of our suffering, if we simply Trust all of it to Him, it will allow God to bring us to our Ultimate Sweetness with Him in Heaven. When His Crops (all of us) are Ready, the Eternal Vine Grower will come and bring His Good Vines Home forever.