(The book of John takes us through many deep discussions that Jesus gave at various times in His ministry. Please click here for Study #1 -- Jesus and Nicodemus; Study #2 -- The Woman at the Well; Study #3 -- At the Pool of Bethesda; and Study #4 -- Bread of Life; and Study #5 -- The Shepherd and His Flock. The next 7 devotionals are from John chapter 15, and they focus on the lessons we can learn from Jesus’ famous discourse, "The Vine and the Branches." )
Last week, in The Vine and the Branches,
Part 3, we discovered that in order to bear fruit, we must stay
connected to Jesus, for He is the source of everything that will produce
But what will happen if we don't bear fruit? I mean, I truly desire to
stay connected to Jesus, but "stuff" happens! Circumstances, life's
busyness, habit...but when I'm not connected to Jesus, I know that I
will not bear much fruit. But I don't need to worry, because God is
forgiving and longsuffering. He'll just wait until I reconnect. Right?
As nice of a story as that would be, this isn't exactly what Jesus'
discourse teaches us. In fact, when Jesus tells us the consequences of
not bearing fruit, He says it twice: "...my Father is the gardener.
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit..." (John
15:1,2); "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." (vs. 6) Thus, those who don't bear fruit will be
cut off from the vine!
I have had the opportunity of having grapevines in my backyard over the
years, and as I think about Jesus' reference to pruning, I realize that
I have never bothered to prune my vine's branches. I never saw the need!
Of course it must also be noted that I've never had a good grape crop.
So to learn more about the pruning process, I decided to do some more
research. I googled: "Why is it necessary to prune grapevines?" Here are
the reasons that I found:
1. To develop the young grape vine.
Pruning back the branches on a young vine is considered to be the
starting point for having a successful, productive vineyard. It sets the
vine up for a lifetime of successful grape harvests.
Thus, when God prunes back unproductive branches, He is doing so to
ensure a lifetime of "fruit" from the productive branches!
2. To maintain a proper balance between growth
and fruit bearing. The fruitful branches of an unpruned grapevine
will result in thousands of buds each Spring. The problem is that when a
bud opens in the Spring, the revealed shoot does not grow from nutrients
in the soil, but rather, from nutrients that are stored in the vine
itself. The roots of the grapevine do not begin to supply the shoot with
nutrients until it is about 2-5 inches long! As a result, the more
shoots there are, the less food there is for each shoot to develop
during this vital early stage. Thus, allowing the non-fruitbearing
branches to remain on a vine will actually "drain" the available sources
of nutrients, and will, in general, cause the fruit-producing branches
to produce less and inferior fruit!
Friends, when God prunes back the unproductive branches, He does so to
improve the quantity and quality of fruit being produced by the
3. To maintain a proper crop size: It
is said that one of the first and worst mistakes of a grape grower is
"over cropping" -- trying to grow as many grapes per vine as possible.
This will delay the ripening process by a week or two and will influence
the quality of the grape. The more grapes there are on a single grape
vine, the more nutrients are needed to keep the proper balance between
fruit development, fruit ripening and the physiological process. What is
recommended for producing huge grape crops is to find the point where
your branch produces an optimum number of excellent quality grapes, and
then cut it back to that point!
Let's remember the Jesus didn't just say we were to bear fruit. He said
we were to bear "much fruit!" Thus, on God’s Grapevine, God, as the
Gardener, is required to work back along the branches until He reaches
the ones that are producing the best quality fruit, and then He prunes
the branches back to that point!
4. To maintain a proper grapevine structure:
The final reason for pruning a grapevine is to develop and maintain its
structure. The right shape will allow sunlight to adequately penetrate
the branches. This is necessary for disease control and for the ripening
of the fruit. Thus, the unfruitful branches must be cut back so that the
powerful rays of the sun can cause the fruit on the fruitful branches to
What does this mean for God's grapevine? Those who profess to be
followers of Christ but do not bear fruit will get in the way of those
who bear fruit, and they must be cut back!
In summary then, God prunes the unfruitful branches so that those who
profess to be followers of Christ but do not bear fruit will not drain
fruit-bearing followers of Christ, and will not stand in the way of them
receiving the support they need to bear much, good-quality fruit!
Let's remember that God is in the fruit-producing business so that the
"seed" of His gospel message will be spread to more and more of His
beloved, but lost, children. He desires above all for them to accept His
gift of Salvation and be saved from the fires of hell, but those who
profess Christianity without bearing the fruit of the Spirit will stand
in the way of God's endeavors. These must be "cut off" so that the world
might be saved.
I don't know about you, but I don't want to be cut off. I want to bear
much fruit! And in order to do that, I must stay connected to the vine.
But just how does one stay connected to the vine? Does Jesus give us
Join us next week for The Vine and the
Branches, Part 5: Staying Connected to the Vine.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two
teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet
Scriptural Nuggets, a
website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with
(To access the rest of this
mini-series, please click