“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. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit If it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.” - John 15:1-4
Twenty years of serving Jesus, and I had always read these words through the lens of fruit production.
“If I am a disciple, I’ll produce. The proof will be the fruit. I need to keep growing. I need to bear the fruit. It needs to always be evident. I can’t ever stop producing!”
Though the branches are representative of believers and disciples of Christ, I truly struggle to wrap my mind around the description of the grapevine. Maybe this would be easier if I grew up in a place like, say, California where vineyards are a normal view in some areas.
Louisiana isn’t prone to grow vineyards. No, the scenery along the highways from South to North Louisiana remains to be a green and brown transition from cypress trees to pine trees. I’ll helpfully imply which ones I grew up around. The street I grew up on was called Tall Pine Dr.
Forgive me, but I just can’t see Jesus’ talking without seeing a pine tree. I think it’s OK for this discussion though.
When I read this, I imagine a branch in North Louisiana that fell off a pine tree. More specifically, it would be the kind of branch that you would get rid of when picking up and cleaning out the yard.
It’s flaky. It’s dirty. It’s brittle and grayish brown. There’s no green on it, which means there’s no life.
Now imagine yourself as that branch.