Father, show me something in John 15 tonight. What do you want to say to me right now? Speak to me. Breathe revelation into me as I meditate on your word.
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.
What does it mean to prune a branch? Why do vinedressers prune vines? What’s the benefit?
Pruning grape vines is a basic principle that any grower, regardless of experience must understand. Whenever you leave a vine unpruned, the first year you’ll have a massive big crop. Novice growers can feel delighted with their success and wonder what all the pruning fuss is about.
There’s a flipside to this.
The vine will produce more fruit than it knows what to do with because when you actually prune a vine correctly, you remove as much as 95 to 98% of the previous season’s growth. If you leave all of that growth from the previous year it will have buds on it, which means you’ll have a huge crop the following year.
The vine can’t produce enough energy to ripen an unregulated crop, and it’ll be poor quality. The clusters will be straggly, and you won’t have much fruit worth using. Even if it is able to ripen, given that it has to force so hard to come through, the vine will have diverted energy that it might ordinarily use to mature the wood and to help the vine get ready for winter.
So being pruned seems to mean having the fluff removed. The excess. Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Although we aren’t going to say that Jesus can’t produce enough energy to ripen an unregulated crop, we can say that the Body of Christ needs more strength and substance that occurs through pruning. At least, I think we can say that.
If a branch bears fruit, it isn’t removed. It’s pruned. God removes 95-98% of last season’s growth in order to avoid bearing straggly, withered fruit. Dying to self, perhaps? Death of the flesh? Allowing one to be humbled in order to continue bearing tasty fruit?