Many Christians are familiar with Jesus’ I AM statement in John chapter 15, but few remember Jesus’ “my Father is” statement in the same chapter. Many of us have memorized John 15:5 in Sunday School or Vacation Bible School. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” But have we memorized verses 1 and 2 of the same chapter? They read:
I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Did you know the Heavenly Father is a gardener? He’s got pruning shears in His hands. And according to Jesus, He actually uses them. He checks on each of His branches to see how they are doing. If they aren’t bearing fruit, He simply takes them away. Why? Because they are already dead. They can’t and won’t bear any fruit if they are dead. Jesus teaches that these branches will eventually be gathered up and burned (John 15:6).
Now if a branch is bearing fruit, the Father doesn’t just leave it alone. He doesn’t walk on by. No, he starts pruning and does so in love. He rejoices to see that the branch is producing fruit, but like every good vinedresser He desires to see even more. A vinedresser glories in the fruit of his labor, right? He doesn’t want just any fruit— He wants to see healthy, ripe, and abundant fruit. It should be our desire to bring glory to the Father by bearing the most beautiful fruit the world has ever seen. After all, this is how we prove to be His disciples (John 15:8). But, if this is going to happen, the Father has to use His shears. It can be a painful process; in fact, it will be a painful process. But ultimately, if it for our good and His glory. English theologian and Bible commentator, John Trapp, had this to say about God’s pruning:
And if it be painful to bleed, it is worse to wither. Better be pruned to grow than cut up to burn.
This is true, is it not? What is a cut compared to fire?
In the end, this all boils down to bearing good fruit. But, don’t forget the verse I said you probably already memorized, John 15:5. We can’t bear any of this fruit on our own. We must be abiding in Christ. Like branches to a vine, we must be attached to our source of life if we are to live! Praise the Lord for sending us His Spirit to help us to abide in Him.
Finally, remember that when the Father is pruning, Jesus never leaves us. He is with us through all the pain. He clings to us ever so tightly. And it isn’t just that He is close by or near in proximity. Rather, we are truly in Him and He in us.
John 15:4 “Abide in me, and I in you…”