[Jesus said:] “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” John 15:1-11 ESV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-25 ESV
There was once a giant named Antaeus, who was the son of Gaea, the earth goddess. Antaeus was very strong, but his strength came from his mother. If he was separated from the earth, he lost all his strength. Antaeus used to make everyone who passed his way to wrestle with him, and he would always win these wrestling matches. But one day the mighty hero Heracles found out his secret, and when he passed by Antaeus and was challenged to a wrestling match, Heracles picked up Antaeus and held him above the earth. As soon as the giant was separated from his mother, he lost his strength, and Heracles was able to crush him to death.
This is only a story, but it’s a little like something Jesus said to his disciples. Jesus used a different picture, but he said that his disciples would have to stay connected with him, and that if they were separated from him, they wouldn’t be able to do anything. Jesus used the picture of a vine and its branches. First he said that he was the true vine. The prophets had often compared God’s people Israel with a vine, but Jesus was saying that he was the true Israel. That means that he was everything that God’s people had hoped for over the years, and that they needed to be connected with him to be God’s people. Then Jesus said that his followers were like branches. If they stayed connected to him, they would bear fruit. The Heavenly Father is the vinedresser who takes care of the vine and its branches. He helps vines that are attached to bear more fruit by pruning them, which means cutting them back so that they grow stronger, but branches that are separated from the vine are gathered and thrown into the fire.
God the Holy Spirit connects us to Jesus through faith, and he helps us to bear the fruit of following God’s commands. Sometimes he uses problems and troubles to make us stronger, and it’s kind of like when a gardener prunes back a tree or a bush so it will grow stronger and better. There is the scary picture of God’s judgment when we think about branches being separated from Jesus being thrown into the fire, but it’s a good reminder that we need to stay connected to Jesus. He died for us so that our sins could be forgiven, and he will take us to his heavenly kingdom someday.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to be our vine. Help us to stay connected to him as his branches always. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.