Week Six - Day Two
God is the Gardener
John 15:1-8 - “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
Jesus is the vine, we are the branches, but the Father is the gardener. Most Isra- elites were either herders or farmers, so this analogy would certainly connect with most of Jesus’ listeners. A good gardener ensures his garden has the sunlight and water it needs to grow. He protects the garden from pests and rodents. He nurtures plant growth by pulling weeds, pruning limbs, and caring for sickly plants. So too, God prunes us (the branches) to be more fruitful, cutting back what is unhealthy or unwieldy growth in our lives so we will bear fruit that can thrive. It is the Father who “takes away” the branches that bear no fruit (v. 2). This might seem confusing at first, but the Greek word for “takes away” (airō) also means “to lift up.” So when the gardener sees a branch that is not bearing fruit, he does not remove it from the vine, but rather he lifts it up toward the sunlight to help it grow and thrive. The Mighty God bends down to help us be fruitful. That is beautiful! But, also shocking and incredible! This is exactly what God did when he came to Earth as a man - he humbled himself for our benefit, so we may live. The gardener is motivated by love; everything he does is to help the branches grow fruit. Ultimately, fruit brings glory to the gardener (v. 8). The presence of fruit in our lives demonstrates to the world that as Jesus’ disciples, we have remained in him (see Galatians 5:22-23 for a few examples). We know that nothing good comes from us without God (Romans 7:18, James 1:17). The fruit that comes from our lives is a testimony of God’s work in us. Because the story of the Bible isn’t really about branches or fruit; it’s about a gar- dener who loves the dying branches so much that he humbled himself and became the vine, so the branches might live.
- How is the Father pruning you or lifting you up right now?
- How might you help others remain connected to the vine in the midst of pruning or lifting up?
- Record your answers and share them with a family member or someone in your Discipleship Group this week.