John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
It is so important that we remember these two facts. Jesus is the vine, the true vine. Without Him, the branches are of no value whatsoever, and they can not possibly produce fruit. All nourishment and strength for the branches comes from the vine. The vine is what holds the branches together. The vine grows and produces more branches, and also feeds the existing branches so they can produce branches. Nothing is produced without the vine.
God, the Father, is the husbandman. Everything He does is for the benefit of the vine. His most important task is keeping the vine healthy and strong. After all, once the harvest is done and everyone sees the fruit of His labor, the husbandman will get all the glory, not the vine or the branches. It would be ridiculous for the branches to say “We deserve some of the glory. After all we grew the grapes!” They could not do a thing without the vine, and the vine can do nothing without the husbandman taking care of it year after year. The glory needs to be put where it belongs!
2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Many have a hard time with this verse because they don’t want to believe that God will actually “take away” or “purge” them. Let’s take a close look at what Jesus said here.
First He addresses those branches that are not bearing fruit. They appear lifeless and of no use to the vine. Most likely they are draining the vine of essential nourishment that could go to a more productive branch. The husbandman has to care for the vine first, so when He sees a branch that is simply not bearing fruit, He has to do something. This branch can harm the whole vine, and in return all the other branches. The Greek word used here is “airw” (pronounced “aheero”) It is a primary root word which can mean several different things depending on the context and tense used. It can mean to take away or remove. But more often then not, it means to lift up or raise up. This same word is used to tell us that Jesus “takes away” the sin of the world. How did Jesus take away our sin? He took it upon Himself on the cross.
If a branch is unfruitful God will lift it up and do everything He can to restore it to usefulness. Many times, the non-producing branches may be down in the dirt, and they need cleaned off, or they might be bent and need straightening out. God will do whatever is needed to make that branch fruitful. However, if the branch does not respond to the tender care of the husbandman, and continues to be unfruitful, drawing precious resources away from the other branches, the husbandman has an obligation to the vine and the rest of the branches to take that branch away from the vine. This is a drastic measure, and is only a last resort. But the husbandman has to look out for the vine first.
Now, the branches that are producing he “purges”. This means he cleans them, prunes small offshoots from them and prepares them to be more fruitful. He carefully gets rid of anything on that branch that would rob the branch of the resources going to it. Without purging, this branch could become unfruitful in the future, and the husbandman will do anything he can to keep that from happening.
Let’s bring this close to home. As followers of Christ, we are the branches. God expects us to be fruitful. I am not going to get into a discussion of what fruitful means today except to say I think there are 2 types of fruitful. The first is that we witness to those around us and help them see the way to salvation. The second is to be so full of the fruit of the spirit (Gal 5:22-23) that it flows out of us and onto other people. Both of these, to me, demonstrate fruitfulness. If we are not fruitful, God will do everything he can to make us fruitful. If we are fruitful, God will work on us to make us more fruitful. In either case, it means God will allow things into our life that will take away those attributes and qualities that are detrimental to our fruitfulness. We call these trials and tests, but really they are growth methods.
When these things come into our life, it is essential that we go through them, not try to find a way around them. When we see God working on someone else’s life, it is important that we pray God will give them the strength to endure through, and not try to pray the test away. We must begin to see these things through God’s eyes, not our own He is purging his vine – making it stronger and more fruitful. Certainly we don’t want to interfere with that!
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Abiding in Christ is not a mystery. It is simply living according to His words. Nothing more, nothing less. We tend to make it a mystery, and I think that’s because we have a hard time doing it, so we try to make it seem harder than it really is. His word cleans (purges) us and makes us a productive branch. When we live according to His word, we abide in the vine and will bear much fruit. And remember, even when we are bearing much fruit, we still will need purging every so often.
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Verse 8 is the ultimate result, and the one thing I want happening in my life. I want to make sure the Fathers glorified. I had someone say to me the other day that they had sung in their church and no one came up to them after and said it was a good job. He was a little upset about that. I asked him who he was singing for. He thought for a moment and really did not have an answer. I told him to make sure he is singing for God the next time, and not the congregation. Then God will receive the glory, and it won’t matter what the people say. We must always have in mind what will bring glory to the Father. This is our duty!
In conclusion, I urge you to examine your life today. Are you a fruitful branch, bringing glory to the Father? Do you joyfully allow those things into your life that will help you grow and mature so the Father is glorified even more? Let God purge you and make you a stronger, more fruitful branch. believe me, it will benefit you as well!