LENT 2023 - Jesus Said: I Am The True Vine, Part II
Wednesday March 15, 2023
If you have not done so yet, I invite you to read
LENT 2023 - JESUS SAID: I AM THE TRUE VINE, PART I
before continuing to read here...
“I AM THE TRUE VINE,
and my Father is the gardener…
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.
I AM THE VINE;
you are the branches.
If a man reamins in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit;
apart from me you can do nothing…
This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit,
showing yourselves to be my disciples.
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in my love.
If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love,
just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete.
My command is this:
Love each other as I have loved you.
Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends…
You did not choose me, but I chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit -
fruit that will last.”
(John 15: 1, 4-5, 8-13, 16)
So, what happens in a traditional vineyard?
1) Some branches on the vine are fruitless. “New branches have a natural tendency to trail down and grow along the ground… But they don’t bear fruit down there. When branches grow along the ground, the leaves get coated in dust. When it rains, they get muddy and mildewed. The branch becomes sick and useless.” (pg.34)
What does the gardener do? “The branch is much too valuable [to be cut off and thrown away]. We go through the vineyard with a bucket of water looking for those branches. We lift them up and wash them off… Then we wrap them around the trellis or tie them up. Pretty soon they’re thriving.” (pgs.34-35)
Sometimes we, like fruitless branches on a vine, fall to the ground, get covered with the dust of sin, and there we languish in misery and barrenness. What must our heavenly Vine-dresser then do to lift us up again to well-being and fruitfulness? He must intervene with painful chastening and discipline to bring us to repentance, so that we might receive His forgiveness and His cleansing, and so that me might once again be lifted up to live a restored and abundant life. (see Deuteronomy 8:5; Hebrews 12:5-6, 8, 11)
2) Other branches on the vine are bearing fruit, a few clusters of grapes - but could bear more. “God’s strategy for coaxing a greater harvest out of His branches… is to prune, which means to thin, to reduce, to cut off. As unthinkable as it sounds, as contradictory as it is - the Vinedresser’s secret for more, is less… Because of the grape’s tendency to grow so vigorously, a lot of wood must be cut away each year. Grapevines can become so dense that the sun cannot reach into the area where fruit should form. Left to itself, a grape plant will always favor new growth over more grapes. The result? From a distance, luxurious growth, an impressive achievement. Up close, an underwhelming harvest.” (pgs.57-59)
So what does the gardener do? “The vinedresser cuts away unnecessary shoots, no matter how vigorous, because a vineyard’s only purpose is… grapes. In fact, pruning is a grower’s single most important technique for ensuring a plentiful harvest.” (p.59)
Sometimes we, like branches already bearing some fruit, could bear much more fruit. “For the Christian, rampant growth represents all those preoccupations and priorities in our lives that, while not wrong, are keeping us from more significant ministry for God. Without pruning, growing Christians will only be able to live up to a fraction of their potential.” (pgs.59-60) “While early pruning is mostly about your outward activities and priorities, mature pruning is about your values and personal identity.” (p.72) Mature pruning can be thought of in terms of “the testing of your faith” - an intensified cutting away as God’s shears go closer to the core of who you are. Not with the intention of only taking away - but with the goal to make room for added strength and productivity in your life, and to bring you closer to the “perfect and complete” image of Christ. (James 1:3-4; p.73)
"The True Vine" -
an original painting by Marg Lameneau from Arnprior, Ontario in Canada
Join us again in Reflexiones Para Vivir in ENGLISH on Friday March 17 to read LENT 2023 - JESUS SAID: I AM THE TRUE VINE, PART III.+ REFLECTIONS