I read John 15 & Romans 12 this morning – 2 towering chapters with tremendous content.
So choosing what to share this morning wasn't easy.
I grew up on a farm, so the vine analogy in John 15 is something I understand.
Pruning is a way of life for grape vines.
I know it makes sense to cut off vines that don't produce, but I'm also sure it probably doesn't make sense to prune back vines that DO produce fruit, but it's true.
If you prune a producing vine (not cut it off completely like non-producers), it will grow back stronger & produce more grapes than before.
(I know my brothers, Jeff & Tim, will find my referring to my farm upbringing with amusement, because I showed seemingly little to no interest in it growing up! ;-) )
Remember that this passage is Jesus talking to the disciples the night before He died – they had left the “Last Supper” & were heading to Gethsemane.
Jesus knew He would be arrested soon.
So I'm sure these are part of the “final instructions” - these were things Jesus probably REALLY wanted the disciples to remember.
Read this slowly – it's got SO MUCH in just a few short verses...
1 "I am the true grapevine,
and my Father is the gardener.
2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn't produce fruit,
and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.
4 Remain in me,
and I will remain in you.
For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine,
and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 "Yes, I am the vine;
you are the branches.
Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.
For apart from me you can do nothing.
6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers.
Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.
7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!
8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples.
This brings great glory to my Father.
9 "I have loved you even as the Father has loved me.
Remain in my love.
10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love,
just as I obey my Father's commandments and remain in his love.
11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy.
Yes, your joy will overflow!
12 This is my commandment:
Love each other in the same way I have loved you.
13 There is no greater love than to lay down one's life for one's friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command.
15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn't confide in his slaves.
Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me.
16 You didn't choose me.
I chose you.
I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit,
so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for,
using my name.
17 This is my command: Love each other.