“I am 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.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to 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.
It has been raining on and off for the last couple of days. I live in an area where there is a wide variety of crops, including wine grapes. As I drive through the valley in winter, all the vines are dormant, and the vineyards are quiet. I pull my car over to take a closer look. Now some of you may think that this sounds like a romantic idea of travelling from vineyard to vineyard, enjoying the countryside, and sampling different vintages of wines. This is not the case as the vineyard I am in is an operational farm; no glitz, no glamour, no wine tasting, no souvenir shop, just focused on the production of wine grapes. It is cloudy and the ground is muddy. The vines have been trimmed back to the point that I wonder if there is any hope of growth for next year. What a stark contrast from the summer when it a sea of green rows that extended for miles.
Despite the soggy weather, and the lack of ambiance, I gaze at the vines and begin to reflect on the words in John 15. The words of Jesus mull over in my head as I stand among the weathered barns and dormant vines. Jesus said to His disciples only hours before His crucifixion, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” Why would Jesus say these words? As I stare at the grape vines, the Holy Spirit begins to speak to me. What I feel God pressing into my heart is an invitation into the true reality of Christ. I see the vine and realize the importance of remaining in Him, to live in His words, to marvel at His life, and experience His presence. Even though things look like they had been stripped bare, new growth would come in the spring and there would be another cycle for the harvest. The vineyard is like our time on earth and the desire of the Father for our lives is to be part of Jesus’ life so that we can produce a harvest. Why would the Father be referred to as a gardener? It is because the Father is always working to prepare for the future. The Father trims all the unnecessary branches so that the vine can receive the nutrients it needs to grow. He trims, from our lives, anything that prevents Jesus’ life from growing in us.
As I look out to the field, I understand that the presence of Christ is so vital to life. The invitation of Jesus is calling my name, “Remain in Me and I will remain in you.” I am still, just breathing the morning air, acknowledging that Christ is even closer than myself. I now see, hear, and feel a world charged with His life. Under my breath I say, “Jesus have Your way.” In surrender, all I can do is thank Jesus for His life. My heart overflows in gratitude when an even deeper invitation speaks to my heart, “Remain in My love.” My mind flashes to the cross and the joy that was set before Him to save us. Romans 5:8 says, “that God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” It all starts in this vineyard, right here and right now. Jesus is the vine. His roots extend beyond the beginning of time, reaching on into eternity and yet the vine meets us right here. In Him, there is a life of love and a freedom from fear. As I look at the fields and reflect on John 15, the invitation Jesus gives us is, “Will you live in My love?”
Jesus, thank You for Your life. Thank You for the invitation into the true reality of who You are. I want to live in Your love. Amen.
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