“God the Gardener”
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener” (John 15:1). “I am the vine, and you are the branches” (John 15:5). Jesus is the True Vine! In Isaiah 5:1-7, “The Song of the Vineyard,” God speaks of having planted a vineyard (which is Israel) that yielded only bad fruit and was destroyed in judgment. Instead of being connected to a certain place, the people of God are now connected to Jesus–people of all nations, Jews and Gentiles. God is the Weingartner (“wine gardener”) who cares for the vineyard. It is his. He does everything to nurture and guard the health of the vines, and thus their branches.
“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit…” (John 15:2). Branches which bear no fruit are cut off and removed. A branch which bears no fruit is useless. It is not even useful as wood, except to burn in a fire. Branches which do not remain in Christ are cut off. They are separated from God and God’s people and deprived of the holy Spirit. They wither without the vine, and are gathered up and burned. They suffer from being apart from Christ, and then further suffer in judgment.
“…while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:2). Fruitful branches are pruned. They also suffer from cuts, but this is to remove things that hinder fruitfulness (in the best interest of the branch). The gardener knows that a branch growing in the wrong direction will damage the fruitfulness of the others.
“God purifies all true Christians so that they may be more useful. He takes away that which hindered their usefulness; teaches them; quickens them; revives them; makes them more pure in motive and in life. This he does by the regular influences of his Spirit in sanctifying them, purifying their motives, teaching them the beauty of holiness, and inducing them to devote themselves more to him. He does it by taking away what opposes their usefulness, however much they may be attached to it, or however painful to part with it; as a vine-dresser will often feel himself compelled to lop off a branch that is large, apparently thrifty, and handsome, but which bears no fruit, and which shades or injures those which do.” –Albert Barnes
We are pruned so that we are better able to accomplish God’s work. By being fruitful, we show evidence in our lives that we are truly united with Christ in love, and in doing so, lead others to the cross.
“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…If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). We cannot bear fruit in our own power; Christ says this. If we do not bear fruit, we are cast off into the fire.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you…You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit–fruit that will last–and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other” (John 15:12, 16-17). Christ calls us to a “Christ-like” love. By submitting ourselves in obedience to Christ, we are able to love one another with this great love that He commands. We abide in Him through our faith, prayer, obedience, and dependence on Him. Christ promises that by abiding in Him, we are able to be fruitful. He calls us to center our lives on him through our faith, in obedience and dependence. Through this faithful obedience, we receive the pruning of our spirits, which in turn enables us to be fruitful. He will, through his Holy Spirit, teach, comfort and guide, and enable us to bear fruit that is pleasing to Him, through His grace and power.