I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. John 15:5 MSG
Pastor Giovanni holds two grape branches in his hands. One budding, able to bear fruit. The other from a wild grapevine which won’t bear fruit. Giovanni is a vinedresser and winemaker in Tuscany, growing mostly the sangiovese grape used to make Chianti. His daily work is bound up in his teaching – parables grow out of the grapevines in his orchards.
In John 15, Jesus is like the sturdy trunk of the vine, gnarled but solid, firmly rooted in the soil. We Christians are the delicate branches which are to bear grapes. The vinedresser (God) walks down the rows, looking for branches with buds. The others, he will cut off.
Sometimes, though, a wonderful thing happens. The vinedresser chooses a wild grapevine which won’t bear grapes. He takes a fruitful vine and binds the two together, winding a supple twig round and round until they are joined, with the living branch at the top. “The wild branch is like our old nature,” says Pastor Giovanni. “The fruitful branch is our self in Christ, tamed and productive. Once these grow together, nothing can tear them apart.” The futile vine becomes fruitbearing.
This parable speaks loudly to me. Some days my old nature rants and bellows and claims me as its own. I despair of any hope of fruit. Then I remember. God has grafted my wild vine into Jesus. It’s not me bearing the fruit, it’s me-in-Christ. The fruit comes from his nature – his sap shooting up through what was an unresponsive branch and producing grapes.
Do you ever feel like a wild branch, doomed to fruitlessness? The Lord doesn’t give up on us the way we give up on ourselves. He always has a plan to reclaim our wildness and tame it into fruitfulness, if we’ll let him do his work.
Prayer (as a couple)
Dear Lord Jesus, help us to trust you every day to do your work in us, by the power of your Spirit. We yield certain areas of our lives to you right now, individually and as a couple. Please produce your fruit in us and through us.
Prayer (for others)
We especially pray for _______ who is yielding to their old nature. Give them a nudge to turn towards you.
Pruning strengthens our core. It takes energy that is dissipated over a wide span, branching every which way, and distils it into the trunk and a few solid arms. That means spring will find you lean and strong, ready to bear fruit. Mark Buchanan, Spiritual Rhythm