In this parable, Jesus is the vine, we are the branches, and God is the vinegrower. As the sap of the central vine flows into the veins of the branches to give it the fullness of life, so Jesus offers us divine fulness of life.
Parables often contain several lessons, and this reflection focuses on the similarities between a vinegrower and God.
A vinegrower comes to know every vine intimately; he sees them all as unique and different. He knows how each vine grows from year to year. Which ones are more productive than others. He knows how each vine responds to the various forms of care. The vinegrower reflects the ways of God and his never-ending care and love for each one of us.
The main part of tending a vine is taking care of the branches. But the parable tells us that every branch that does not bear fruit is removed from the vine. This sounds a bit brutal to me. Why would a loving God remove a Christian from the vine because they are not bearing fruit?
After probing online, I discovered a long and ongoing debate between theologians about using the word ‘removes’ every branch in this reading.
There is it seems two schools of thought on this; one is that the Bible cannot be wrong, the other is that the Greek word ‘airo’ in the original scripture has been mistranslated, and it should be translated not as: He (God) removes every branch in me that bears no fruit, but; He (God) lifts every branch in me that bears no fruit.
Because a good vinegrower will lift any branches he finds on the ground of a vigorous vine onto a lattice, he knows that the components need to draw their nutrients from the deep-rooted vine and not through their tiny roots in the shallow soil to produce fruit.
In the amazing photo above, we can see that the all vine’s branches are perfectly cared for, lifted to the sun, and tied onto a lattice. Overall, the photo demonstrates how God carefully tends and nurtures each of us; we are treated the same, and no vine is set above any other. God has no favourites.
He gently guides us and persuades us to not lay down in the soil but brings us up to let the sunshine upon us. The branch has no choice but to draw all of its sustenance from the central line (Jesus). As a result, it will produce many clusters of sweet fruit ripened by the sun, which it has been raised to see.
So, we need not concern ourselves over being cut off from the vine due to lack of fruit-bearing; but be grateful for a loving, caring God who will lift us up when we struggle through fallow times.
I believe this to be true because I have been given a lift up on many occasions of my journey with Christ when I have been laid low and was most definitely not bearing any fruits.
May the sun shine warm upon your face and the rains fall soft upon your fields today. Amen
15 “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 prunesa]”>[a] 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.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.