John 15:1-17 is a classic passage where Jesus talks about the importance of abiding in him. It speaks to finding your life in the Lord. The first two verses say, “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”
I’m struck by the significance of these two verses. God is the gardener, trimming and pruning the grapevine. Jesus is the core of the plant – the stock, the roots, the strength, the source. We are the branches, growing out of him and producing leaves and fruit. Our life is fueled by the nourishment we receive from Christ. It’s just as it was written in Deuteronomy 8:3 where it says we do not live by bread alone; rather, we live by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD.
What’s amazing is that it’s not enough that we would produce some fruit. But God cuts away the dead or overgrown stuff in our lives, even sometimes the beautiful things, so that we might increase in fruitfulness and growth!
In James 1:2-4 is says when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing. We’re able to handle life’s trials, and God’s pruning, when we’re connected to the vine (Jesus) – when we are abiding in him.
The Lord is asking us to stay with him. To stay with him means that he is allowed to work a deep work in our lives. Our lives are made of so much more than what we can see in the physical world around us.
A sobering thought is that we see in scripture that he cuts off every branch that does not produce fruit. To him, that branch is useless. They’re gathered together to be burned. Nothing comes of them. It is as though they never existed, never benefiting anyone.
But you who remain?
You bring great glory to God.
So lean in to the good work that God is doing in your life. Trust his timing and his methods. He is the gardener. Jesus is the vine. And we are the branches.
And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.
Philippians 1:6 NLT