It seems recently every scripture, piece of literature I happen upon, and even random conversations I have had somehow reference the following words: Root, Soil, Plant, Tree, Branch, Fruit, Vine, Seed, Sowing, Cultivation, Palm Tree, and Water. So, I figure either I’m developing a love for botany or God is trying to tell me something.
As someone who desires to truly call myself a follower of Christ, I am finding more and more relevance in Jesus’ illustration in the first half of John 15. It is in this chapter that Jesus makes it very clear (using a vineyard as an example) that we are mere branches and that He is the Vine. He goes on to explain that we will never be able to produce fruit if we aren’t vitally united to the Vine. Through the sap that is diffused to us via the root and vine, we obtain all the necessary sustenance for survival and fruitfulness in His Kingdom.
Andrew Murray summarizes the words of Jesus in this chapter like this, “I, the living One who have so completely given Myself to you, am the Vine. It is impossible to trust Me too much. I am the Almighty Worker, full of divine life and power.” Matthew Henry said the following in his commentary, “From a vine we look for grapes, and from a Christian we look for a Christian temper, disposition, and life.” The more fruit we bring forth, the more we abound in what is good, and as a result, the more Jesus is glorified.
I must admit, consistently living with the mindset that I am a mere branch is very difficult. I am as guilty as anyone in trying to step out of the vine (mostly unintentionally) and pull sustenance from myself or another source. This only leads to a dried up and brittle state. What happens then is that whenever a strong wind comes, or something bangs up against me, I start falling apart and breaking off the vine.
Have you ever tried breaking a limb that is strong and healthy? Try breaking a limb that is very green on the inside with your bare hands. It is almost impossible in most cases. Limbs like this will not break from the tree no matter how hard the wind blows. The limb may bend backwards or shake with vigor, but it will not release itself from the powerfully rooted and grounded tree. Vinedressers will tell you however, that in the case of growing grapes, pruning grapes is absolutely an important part in the growing of grapes and is beneficial for a grape’s quality. Without proper pruning the amount of grapes produced and the size of the grapes will decrease. I am thankful that in John 15:1 Jesus says that His Father is the Vinedresser. He knows exactly how to prune us to best develop our fruit, however, we must be committed to cleave to the vine via prayer and study of the Word. It requires a commitment because by our very nature we are dry and fit for nothing but the fire.
Let us hold fast to the True Vine today and maintain a renewed awareness of where our help is coming from. It is only then, that God can deliver to us through his holy root system what we need for life and Godliness. 2 Peter 1:3 says, “By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.”