Four years ago I received in the mail a bundle of what appeared to be sticks. They looked like something you would start a fire with. They were about twelve inches long and a little larger than the diameter of a pencil. I happened to know that they were not “just” sticks. They contained life in them and properly cared for, would one day produce grapes.
Jesus said in John 15, “I am the vine and my Father is the Gardener.” The Gardener knows what part of the branches need cut back. He also knows what part of those cut branches have His DNA to grow and start new vineyards.
“I am the vine and my Father is the Gardener.”
During the growing season, the gardener continues to trim the branches. As the fruit begins to appear he removes leaves around the fruit so the it gets exposure to the sun. The sun helps to mature and sweeten the fruit. He will remove the tendrils that are growing near the fruit to protect the fruit from being strangled. The gardener is constantly working to set the branches up for success. His vision is to see beautiful sweet fruit hanging from the branches in the vineyard. If the branches get too long he will trim them to refocus the energy back into fruit production.
The last four years have been a learning experience for me. I have done lots of homework prior to receiving the “cuttings” I have done a lot of homework as I have cared for these cuttings. I wish that I could say that all the cuttings produced a plant that is now mature enough to bear fruit. Only one of the original cuttings matured to a level of fruit baring. I have since taken cuttings off of the original plant and now nursing them to a place that they too will bare fruit.
By now, you have probably noticed many spiritual principles pertaining to grape production. The Heavenly Father is a good and perfect gardener. He is always at work to set us up for success and maximum eternal fruit production.
Jesus referred to Himself as the vine. Colosians 2:7 talks about letting “our roots grow down into Him”. It is safe to say that Jesus the Vine has roots that are in perfect harmony with the Father. In grape production, the vine must have well established root system before the branches can be allowed to bear fruit. We have a foundation in the Father, through the Son Jesus, which enables us to be eternal fruit bearers.
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.” John 15:5 (MSG)
Picture a very large grape-vine, one that is as big as earth. Jesus is the trunk and roots. Flowing out from that one trunk there are millions of branches. Imagine what it would look like for that many branches to be coming out from one trunk. Why is it that the branches are situated in their certain places? It seems as though there is a bunch of branches that all connect to the trunk at the same place almost as if they are one. There are many of these “bunches” connected to the trunk.
For the sake of this article, the bunches that are connected to the trunk/vine are church families. God is God and He can make His grape-vine look and be however He wishes.
“He makes the whole body fit together perfectly.
As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” Ephesians 4:16
It is very clear from the Bible, that not only is our connection to the Vine key, it is also our connection with the branches that is very important. I am not referring to salvation here. I don’t think that Jesus was even referring to salvation in John 15. This is about followers of Christ remaining in right position to God and His people. He ends this particular teaching with the command to “love one another.”
I am so happy to see my church, New Bethel, taking this passage in John 15 to a whole new level. In recent months God has stirred our men to meet together regularly, our ladies are having more meaningful connections. Starting in the New Year we will begin Vine groups which is NBC version of small groups.
The Gardener, Father God, has been positioning and training the branches in their right families so that they could produce eternal fruit. In these last days before the Son’s return, Father God is restoring families and setting people in the place where they can truly be productive. I have never seen a branch in my vineyard, choose where it wanted to be connected, based on what it felt was best for it. The very thought is absurd. The branches flow in harmony and unity with the vine. The fruit on the branches carry the DNA of the vine.
May it be that we God’s people, the branches, with roots that go down deep in God through the Vine, Jesus flow in unity with one another and reach our full potential.