Lesson 1: Dead or Alive?
I confess I am a city dweller inside and out. Concrete is in my veins. It’s easy for me to forget the process that takes place to produce what I love and eat so quickly - fruit. We all know that fruit isn’t produced from out of thin air, but we love it without question. Take away elements like soil, water, sun, and a gardener's touch, and we don’t experience the beautiful results. In John 15, Jesus’ breaks down how people and God are like these agricultural elements in the Garden of life.
From the get-go in verse 1, Jesus makes a strong claim about his identity. Jesus is the sprawling grapevine producing fruit and God in Heaven is the Gardener overseeing the Garden of Humanity. The Gardener gives care and direction, cutting off bad parts (called pruning) from the Vine and nurturing the good parts to bring out the best quality fruit from its branches. "To prune" means to cut off parts of a plant that suck away the nutrition that plants need to produce fruit or vegetables. Once the bad parts are cut off, more nutrition can flow in to help the good branches be more fruitful.
Jesus says his Gospel message gives life, prunes and purifies us so we don’t live like dead branches. Jesus stresses the word "abide or remain" to His disciples and us. But what does that mean? Think of it this way; God sent Jesus to the world as his instrument to connect dead branches to the life-giving Gardener. The opposite is true as well. If a branch - you or me - is not connected to Jesus by a trust in Him, we are dead with no life in us. We may look like a branch on the outside and breathe like a living human, but in our spirit, we are dead.
Jesus is the Vine offering new life to dead branches. What comes from being in Jesus is a fruitful life here on earth too. Most people don’t want to waste their life. We want it to count for this life and beyond. In the same way, every Gardener wants to have a garden that produces good fruit. Jesus connects the two concepts here for us. If you want your life to be fruitful and please God, it can only happen through connecting yourself in faith to the life of Jesus the True Vine.
Are you connected to the True Vine? Is your life bearing fruit?
Receive God's love today, allow Him to prune what is not bearing fruit in your life.