Advent: December 7
‘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, as I also 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 you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Jesus gives us a beautiful picture of a vine as a description of our life in him, and his in us. We grow as branches from the centre, which is Jesus, and Father God works on us by his grace to produce the very best from us.
So, what is it that we have to do to play our part in all of this? The answer may not satisfy the people who hope to demonstrate that they are “active” Christians through keeping busy and doing good works and service. Jesus tells us that we simply remain in him, to draw our sustenance from him, and not to go it alone. If we separate from the vine we will become a dead branch.
It really is that simple. No need to prove ourselves or to put on a performance or commit ourselves to acts of self-denial in order to please God. Just remain in Jesus. Do that, and all that you do in his name will follow naturally as Jesus remains in us.
Now, this pruning business. My garden gets a lot of pruning – the more I do, the more the vegetation seems to grow. So, I do more pruning… It’s hard work, but the garden looks good for it. Is that what God wants to do with me? Pruning can be a relief as much as a pain. Are you doing what’s not necessary, for instance? Are you placing personal agenda before God’s? That will be better out than in. Less of self, and more of Jesus.
When do you know that you are abiding in the vine?
When do you know you aren’t?
Do you want people to see you, or Jesus?
Father God, there is only one vine in your garden, and I am part of it, grafted into your Son Jesus. As I draw from the perfect, all-sufficient life of Jesus, you care for each branch, to make it perfect for you. I submit myself to your care. In Jesus. Amen.