“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me.
5“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6Anyone who parts from me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7But if you stay joined to me and my words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! 8My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father.
John 15:1-8 (NLT)
Notice that both the branches that bear fruit and those that don’t experience death. Obviously those that don’t produce fruit are cut off from their root system and eventually die. But even those that bear fruit – those that produce good fruit – will experience a death through pruning. Pruning involves cutting off healthy branches to enable the tree to grow more, healthier fruit and branches. Again, that which is cut off will be left to die.
I was thinking about how I might illustrate this if I were to preach it. There’s a florist in the business networking group I meet with weekly. If I were to ask him to bring me one rose each week, by the end of a month, I’d have four roses in various stages of dying. All four of them would have been cut off from their root system, so they are no longer receiving life-giving nourishment. Imagine the four roses lined up in front of you in four clear vases.
- The first rose I received would undoubtedly be dead or near death.
- The second rose is showing signs of weakness – it’s brown around the edges and drooping.
- The third rose still has good color, but when you touch it, you can tell that it has become weak. The stem isn’t as firm and strong as it was when I first got it and the leaves droop a bit.
- The last rose I received is vibrant in color and strong enough to stand in the vase without assistance. Yet cut off from its roots, we know that soon it will look like the first rose.
That’s what Jesus is saying. That He is our root system and when we are cut off – when we do not remain in Him – we weaken and eventually die. The longer we are away from our “vine”, the weaker we are. The roses that are two or three weeks old are so easily broken. Just barely touching them will cause their leaves and petals to fall off. The new rose doesn’t break so easily.
New fruit, new buds, don’t appear on the cut flowers. Likewise, we cannot be fruitful apart from God. But when we remain in Christ, God prunes us so that what become more fruitful. We cannot be fruitful apart from Him, but in Him, our fruitfulness is multiplied. I love verse 8 – our fruitfulness, which is a result of staying near Jesus, brings great glory to God. He prunes us for greater fruitfulness and it brings Him great glory. Hallelujah!
Pruning is painful, but fruitfulness brings rejoicing. I’m reminded of this verse:
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
The word that is translated “joy” here means shouting with joy or great rejoicing. Pruning is not pleasant, but praise God, He will be glorified by our increased fruitfulness.