“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more” (John 15:1-2. NIV).
In “Secrets of the Vine”, Bruce Wilkinson shares truths that Jesus imparted to His disciples the night before His crucifixion. They were some of His last words to His faithful followers before the Garden of Gethsemane. In John 15 we read His last words, and realize that Jesus was imparting what was expected in each life. Each disciple was called to bear fruit. Each life had been created for good works (Ephesians 2:10). Jesus knew He would soon be gone, and He wanted each one of them to know the importance of His purpose for their life. He knew that sometimes His mission for them would be hard, but He also knew that it was only in His mission that they would discover their ultimate fulfillment in life. Jesus knew that a life with “no fruit” would ultimately destroy the work He had begun, and also destroy faith in each life. In the Upper Room only minutes previously He had told them shocking news of denial and betrayal, and that he was going to leave them. He had also told them that they would not be left alone–that the Holy Spirit would come to comfort and empower them. But now their whole world was crumbling, and all He could speak to them about was bearing fruit for the Kingdom. It was a message that was meant to carry them in abundant fulfillment through this life into the next.
Jesus' last words are for us, too. Jesus is the grapevine that springs from the earth and grows thick like a trunk ending in a knot at about four feet in height. We are the branches that spring from that knot and are supported by trellises that keep us from destruction on the ground below. God is the keeper of the vineyard. He trains how the branches grow, and keeps them supported by His trellises of truth. He cuts off each branch that doesn't produce fruit, and He prunes branches that already produce fruit to yield even more. If our lives do not yield any fruit, He will intervene to discipline us. He disciplines us when there is sin that must be addressed. When self is an issue, He prunes us back to bring forth greater yield. That pruning of self is necessary. Letting self go in absolute surrender to His purpose in our lives is what He desires. Both discipline and pruning can be hard, but are necessary to produce the greatest bounty in our lives. Whether we can grasp it or not– to be remade in Him–to be transformed in the renewing of our mind–brings the greatest joy in our lives. We grow closer to Him and lack nothing in our knowledge of what He wishes to accomplish through us.
In Sunday school we are beginning a study of “Secrets of the Vine”. Our purpose is to discover how God can use our lives for His greatest impact. We long to produce the greatest harvest–the greatest yield. It is abundant life to the fullest. Bruce Wilkinson's calls abundance “the beautiful overflow of true worth in a person's life”. It is what we were created for. Jesus knew this and shared this great last truth with His disciples on the way to fulfill God's purpose for His life. How can we not discover what it means for our own?