John 15:1, 2- “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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.”
In the agrarian society of Jesus’ day this was a common image. Olive groves and vineyards were a main staple of first century Palestine. There would be few people that didn’t understand the need to remove dead plants to make room for new thriving ones or the need to prune off dead branches so that new shoots will grow. I have a rose bush in our back yard that I prune to keep it looking nice but that is more a matter of esthetics. Jesus was talking about producing fruit, the plants very reason for being. What might it mean for us to bear fruit? In our society we usually think of growth and production in terms of increasing numbers, and I think that has its place. The little movement Jesus started reached billions and billions through the centuries. Sometimes we forget, however, that all that happened as individuals were touched by the grace of God one by one. Here Jesus seems to imply that growth occurs by staying connected to God and letting him rid us of what is not productive. What would it mean for God to do some pruning in your life this week?