John 15:1-8 “I am the the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Every winter, Jeff prunes the scuppernong vines. He prunes all of the branches off. When he finishes there’s not much of a plant left. All the branches that were cut off are dragged away. The scuppernong plants look very unfruitful at this point. There are minimal vines. There are no branches. There is no fruit. All that is remaining is the base of the plant stems and the root system. Through the winter months, it appears dead and lifeless, but then along comes spring. New shoots and bud spurs develop, and before we know it, there are vibrant green vines covering our trellises. Then tiny fruit begins to appear, and by August we have sweet scuppernongs to tease our tastebuds.
But what about those branches we cut off last winter? Are they producing fruit? No way! They are no longer connected to the vine. They are just dead branches now. We could make some wreaths out of them, but otherwise, they are pretty useless at this point.
In John 15, Jesus tells us that He is the true vine, and His Father is the gardener. He cuts of the branches that aren’t bearing fruit, and He prunes the ones that are bearing fruit so that they will be more fruitful. God prunes us. Have you ever thought about that? The pruning process occurs when we go through transitions in life. God will sometimes use these opportunities to prune us and take away things that are keeping us from Him. He removes things that are getting in the way of our growth and spiritual walk with Him. In doing so, we focus more on Christ and less on ourselves, and thus we become more fruitful. Just as those scuppernong branches thrive when attached to vine, we will thrive when we stay attached to Christ. If we aren’t attached and clinging to the true vine, we aren’t going to be able to produce any fruit because in reality we can’t produce fruit on our own. Christ produces the fruit through us. We have to remain in Him. We must remain attached to the vine and rooted in Him. Pruning can be tough. Change is hard. But changing for Christ is always worth it. If you feel like you’re being pruned currently, take heart, spring is here. The fruit is coming. We just have to be patient and cling to the vine!