My mother can make anything grow. She has, what some call, a “green thumb”. Plants, flowers, anything.
I remember she would visit with friends and if they had a beautiful plant she’d get their permission to cut a portion of it. We (my sisters and I) thought it was odd. But she would wrap the stem in a wet paper towel and carry it home.
From there we’d watch as she transferred this stem, usually with a leaf or two, from a paper towel to a glass jar with water ultimately to a pot with soil.
It seemed magical because months later that same friend would visit our house to see a plant draping to the floor. Full and healthy. And they too would be amazed when she’d tell them it was from their plant.
This is a gene I do not possess. 🙂
Because I do not have a single plant in my house. Which is odd because we had a house full of them due to my mother and her plant-loving ways.
But what is truly amazing to me now is…we (my sisters and I) cared for the plants. Not my mother. It was part of our regular chores. She’d instruct us in what to do for each plant.
She knew each plant as if it were a person.
Some would need watering. Others would get one-on-one time with her as she’d prune it. She’d nip here and toss it in the trash. She’d nip there and declare “put it in that glass over there”. One of us would carry the stem to its new location.
She could tell from looking at a plant if it needed to have some time in the sun, or needed rotating to another window. Others needed its vines lifted and draped casually over an adjacent shelf.
Again…it was amazing.
What does this have to do with 31 Days in the Word? Well…a lot because my mother unknowingly helped me get a better understanding of the next passage I will share over the next few days.
Read the passage: John 15:1-17 (ESV, NIV, and NLT). Pick one or all. You can also pull out your bible and read it.
John 15:1-3 provide an understanding of the relationship between God, Jesus and Jesus’ disciples. This relationship is illustrated using a vine.
The illustration has three key “parties”:
- Jesus and
- People who claim to follow Jesus.
Jesus tells us in verse 1, he is “the true vine” and God is “the vinedresser”. Now, I paused and wondered what it really meant to be a vine and a vinedresser.
I researched a little and learned that grapevines are known to be very difficult to care for since they require constant care. In scripture, the vine in Old Testament often referred to grapevines. It was also used as a symbol for speaking to Israel. But in the New Testament it is believed to symbolize the kingdom of God.
Thus, with the roles provided:
- Vinedresser – a person who cultivates or prunes grapevines
- Vine – any plant with a long, thin stem
- Branches – any woody extension growing from the trunk or main stem, or from a main limb, of a tree or shrub
[Definitions from Webster Dictionary]
Verse 2 then helps us to understand the ways in which each party interacts. Jesus shares that every branch performs one of two functions. He or she is either: productive or unproductive—the English Standard Version it says “bear fruit” or “does not bear fruit”. At which God, the cultivator of this vineyard, will begin the pruning process.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I share that I am not a gardner. I don’t have plants or anything green in my house other than the produce I purchase at HEB (a Texas-grocery store). Therefore, I needed a little understanding on pruning.
I learned in short a few key points about pruning that will help us here.
- Pruning is done to shape and encourage growth in the plant.
- Pruning is done to remove dead portions of a plant to prevent disease from traveling to other parts of the plant.
- Pruning is done to ensure the health of the surrounding stems and the overall plant.
Let’s pause for a second… Does anything about the key points capture your attention? If so, what? And why?
So back to Verse 2, Jesus says every branch either bears fruit or does not bear fruit. Every branch. In response, God will either cutback (prune) or separate (take away) the branch according to he or her productivity.
What I find most fascinating is every branch will be cut. The cutting will either result in a particular branch bearing more fruit or a branch being severed from the true vine.
What I also find fascinating is pruning is necessary to protect the entire plant. Failure to leave a dead, diseased, or unnecessary branch on a tree can result in the disease traveling throughout the plant and risking the healthy portions as well.
In verse 3 Jesus says “already you are clean”, they have the word from the Word. They have learned from Him. They followed Him. Now, they are in the position to bear fruit for the kingdom
I believe this passage shares three key thoughts as to why you want to stay the course of being a follower of Christ who is productive. One who is fruitful for the kingdom of God.
And Jesus shares these thoughts around:
- Abide in Him;
- Abide in His love; and
- Abide in His appointment.
Lord’s will, I look forward to sharing a thought a day for the next three days. Starting with Abiding in Him tomorrow.
Until then, God bless!
Consider this: John 15:1-17 is a common passage shared and studied. What thoughts have you always associated with this passage?
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