“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1
This is the final of seven I AM statements Jesus made that are recorded in John’s gospel. Each declaration employs a vivid metaphor that encapsulates Christ’s salvation work. But with each statement, Jesus exposes our hearts as well.
Jesus continues His Upper Room discourse to His disciples on His last night with them. In this statement, I AM the true vine, He further tells us His Father is the vinedresser. And in verse 5 we, His followers, are the branches.
But consider the situation for a moment. Jesus is preparing His closest followers for His death, but also to take up His work and carry it on. This is a serious responsibility, one that has the Father’s attention.
Every branch that does not produce fruit, He cuts off.
Every branch that does produce fruit, He prunes to stimulate more production.
So that brings up a simple question. Are we producing or not? And if we’re not producing, what do we need to change. The Greek word for prunes is kathairo, and it means to purge. Think of it like using Marie Kondo’s methods on your life. Does this bring the Father joy and glory? Is it useful for His kingdom? Is it pure and beautiful? If the answers are no, it’s got to go … IF we want to continue to be fruitful.
Theologically, this process is called sanctification, an ongoing work of the Holy Spirit to make us more like Christ.
If that were the only outworking of Jesus’s statement, that would be more than enough to keep us busy, but He goes on.
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Jerry Bridges, in his challenging book, Respectable Sins, defines ungodliness as “living one’s everyday life with little or no thought of God, or of God’s will, or of God’s glory, or of one’s dependence on God.”
In other words, ungodliness is the opposite of abiding in Him and producing fruit. And ungodliness gets you cut off.
I am the true vine. My Father is the vinedresser. You are the branches. Will you bear fruit?
Or will you resist making the necessary changes? Will you persist in self-sufficiency?
The guys in that room that night got off to a bumpy start after Jesus died, but then they turned the world upside down.
What about us?
Fruit or no fruit?
Pruned or cut off?
Abiding or ungodly?