A reflection on John 15:1-5
Jesus said to his disciples: 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will 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. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
You don’t have to be a gardener to know that branches separated from the vine – from the source of nourishment – the don’t last long. And all they are good for is to be picked up and thrown into the fire. Jesus (as He does often) makes an astounding claim here: I AM the True Vine.
Jesus tells his disciples what he is telling all those who want to follow him: stay connected to me or wither. You will not flourish outside of relationship to me. ‘Remain in me’, abide, continue in me, just as a branch needs to remain connected to the vine or it will not produce its fruit so you need to remain connected to me.
Jesus disciples would face very soon after these words Jesus’ departure – his death and resurrection, but then after a little while with the Risen Jesus – he would leave them. And here is a reminder for them that trust in him, and reliance upon him and his power within them (through the Spirit he would give them) must be their focus.
God does ‘prune’ us, but it is so that we will ‘be even more fruitful’. God has not left us alone, but through his Spirit and his word we are able to stay connected to Jesus our King and so bear fruit in our lives that brings glory to our Father in heaven.