I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
When the 12 spies went into the promised land to scout out the land, they were gone 40 days and returned carrying a cluster of grapes This cluster of grapes was suspended between on a pole and carried by two persons (see Numbers 13:20, 23). From this point forward the grape vine was the national emblem of Israel. At the time Christ spoke these words in John 15:1, 2 to His disciples, there was on Herod’s Temple this beautiful symbol of a grape vine with its cluster of grapes. It was made of gold; it leaves painted green, but the grapes were of solid gold. Therefore, it seemed appropriate that Jesus would use this national symbol as an illustration to His disciples.
In this illustration given by Jesus to His disciples, the vine represents Christ while the branches extending out from the vine represent the disciples. But not just the eleven disciples that accompanied Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane, rather it represents all his disciples down through the ages until Christ comes again on clouds of glory.
The question we need to answer is, what is the fruit Jesus is mentioning? Why all this cutting and pruning?
Galatians 5:22, 23 gives us a clue what this fruit is. “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness 23gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.” Notice how the verse says, fruit of the Spirit and not fruits of the Spirit. It is when all these are duplicated in our life as they were in Christ’s life that we are bearing fruit. And according to Christ, the only way for this to happen is for the branches to be connected to the Vine.
Yet the text also says that the Father, our heavenly Father is the vinedresser that cuts and prunes the branches. How can this be.
To better understand this text, it is necessary to examine the care of grape vines at the time of Christ.
Pruning of the vineyards occurred at two principal times during the year. Immediately following the harvest, the vines were pruned severely, and all leaves were stripped from the plants. This induced dormancy. In the spring trimming of vines was practiced before blooming as well as after. These clippings were thrown over the mud brick walls.
After the pruning of the fall, in the spring when the plants brought forth new leaves and flowers. The shoots without flowers was removed as they would take away from the necessary nutrients to grow healthy grapes. The direct action taken on the vine would include the picking off shoots, removal of shoots, and needful thinning of foliage to allow full sunlight to the grapes to reduce the amount of fungus causing the grapes to rot on the vine. At the same time, other branches called water sprouts that arise from the roots at the base of the vine are removed.
It is God’s desire that his faithful disciples grow the maximum amount of fruit and so this requires the trimming away of unfruitful branches that would block the fruit from the maximum amount of sunlight to produce rich succulent grapes.
So it appears the creator of the grape vine, understands best the care for the plant which symbolizes His church to allow maximum growth among His true disciples.
We are left with one last example, for on that very night Jesus gave this illustration, one of His own disciples failed to produce fruit and was thus cut off. Judas who had lived with Christ, listening to His every word had conspired to betray Jesus, Judas was not truly repentant for what he had done, therefore the vinedresser cut him off from the vine which was the source of life.
At the end of the growing season, all that had been cut off and thrown outside the wall, would be gathered up and burned.
Therefore it is vitally important for the true Disciple of Christ to remain connected to the vine, receiving the light of Christ’s righteousness and vital power from the Holy Spirit so that we can become fruitful and exhibit the same character traits of the vine, which are: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such there is no law.