“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 so that it will be
even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must
remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine;
you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart
from me you can do nothing. 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. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and
it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing
yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:1-8
I love grapes. I love purple grapes. I love green grapes. I love red grapes. Our family
loves grapes. Grapes are the most widely grown fruit in the world. Grapes have been
cultivated as far back as ancient Egypt, 2,500 years before the birth of Christ.
The grapevine was a symbol of ancient Israel and is part of modern Israel’s national
emblem. Grapes have always been central to Israel’s agriculture and economy. The
climate of Israel is ideal for viticulture (the harvest of grapes). The grapevine
represented Israel’s fruitfulness in doing God’s work on earth. This symbol was on
Israeli coins during the between-the-testaments time of the Maccabees.
A very important product of ancient Israel was a grape honey made by boiling the grapes
into a molasses-like jelly, which was very sweet. When Israel is referred to as the “land
of milk and honey”, it is referring to this product rather than honey from beehives.
In the time of Jesus, a golden vine hung over the entrance of the Jewish Temple in
Jerusalem, a gift from Herod. It was made of delicately twisted gold wire and beads.
Israel appeared outwardly healthy but was spiritually withered.
Jesus referred to himself as “I am the vine.” In other words, I am the lifeline to God.
God the Father is the owner of the vineyard, as well as the cultivator of the crop. Vines
require constant attentive care. A vineyard calls for harder and more regular labor than
any other form of agriculture. The Israelites built watchtowers by their vineyards to
guard against thieves and wild animals. The Father tends His grapes, waters and
protects them and cultivates a harvest so that it will produce a maximum yield. We can
trust the Gardener to nurture and watch us. His eye is on every branch. God makes His
garden grow. The same way He makes His children grow spiritually.
New plants are pruned for 3-5 years to “train” them before they are allowed to produce a
crop. Pruning is also necessary to remove any dead wood, which can harbor disease and
decay. The pruning of live wood improves the vine’s potential for fruit-bearing.
Untrimmed vines develop unproductive growth, long rambling branches that produce
few grapes because the strength of the vine is given to growing wood. Fruit contains the
seed for more fruit, so the process continues, on and on.
For their size, vines are extremely productive, yielding as much as 80 lbs. of grapes in a
single season. And good roots can continue to produce grapes for nearly 100 years.
Jesus is saying to His followers that we are re-born to re-produce. We’re only able to be
re-born to re-produce because we abide in the vine and the vine abides in us.
On this last day of our 21 days of prayer, take time to reflect on your spiritual vineyard.
Is there fruit on the vine, or are you in need of some pruning? If you’re like me, I need
some pruning so God can make a way for more fruit-bearing. Thank God for these past
several weeks of concentrated prayer. Thank God for his grace and mercy in your life.
Thank God for his love and joy in your heart. Thank God for his peace in our gathering
at NewLife. Pray for more hope and strength in this coming year. Pray for revival in our
city, nation, and world.