Trust Your Gardener

“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener”

John 15:1

It’s pretty safe to say that God has a green thumb. Not only did He speak the heavens and earth into existence, He even took time out to plant a garden in Eden. So perfect it was called Paradise. Jesus always sought to bring the Father glory so bragging about His horticulture skills shouldnt surprise anyone. What might surprise you is how Jesus uses a live fruit vine to explain the relationship that He and the Father desire to share with us as His followers.

These first few verses in John 15 can be frightening to many who read them and miss the translation of the original Greek words in their proper context. Read them wrong and you will get the sense that if your life isn’t as productive as a fruit packing shed that God is just waiting to cut you off like a dead branch and cast you into the fire to be burned. In all actuality that conclusion couldn’t be further from the truth. Like the Gardner in this story, our Father in heaven comes along and lifts us out of the dirt and He washes us and cleanses us which serves to make us fruitful. God not only justifies, He sanctifies too!

Read verses 1 through 5 in John 15 and you discover the natural and almost seemingly effortless progression of bearing fruit for God. In verse 1 Jesus says “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.” Thats pretty straight forward, Jesus is the true grapevine and the Father is the gardener. Religion claims to be the truth but Jesus is pointing out that religion is dead not alive, and only a relationship with the one true God is a relationship that is alive and a healthy. Verse 2 goes on to say, “He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so that they will produce even more.” Our good Gardner cuts away the things that are dead and lifeless and even “suckers” that are seeking to rob us of valuable nutrients that help us grow. Here’s the problem. In the Greek language there are a few different meanings for “takes away”. In John’s gospel the interpretation has consistently meant “to hold up” not cutting away as the translators chose to use here. Thats a huge difference. Jesus didn’t come to cut us off, He came to save us, to lift us up, to wash us and draw us in to the family of God.

Verse 3 continues, “You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.” Jesus washes us with the Word of God which edifies and lifts us up. He cleanses the contaminated fruit making it even more fruitful. Jesus uses this example to encourage us to “abide” in Him. How do we do that you might be asking yourself? Do what the grapes on a vine “abide”. They just hang in there, as the fruits only job is to remain connected to the vine as their source of life. Verses 4-5 make perfect sense then, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” I love the imagery these verses provide. Jesus is using a fruitful vine to teach us that He and the Father desire to be “connected to us”.

Over and over again Jesus reminds us here that the key to becoming fruitful and then bearing more fruit and much fruit in this life is to stay connected to Him, to abide in Him. Our success hinges on just being connected to Jesus and trusting our Gardner to cause us to grow. God does all the “heavy lifting” as they say while we just hold still and believe that He is God and that He knows what He is doing. Abide in the Word of God, abide in prayer, abide in fellowship with God and watch the fruit begin to grow, and grow and grow some more. Our best life is lived and enjoyed by simply trusting the Gardener. After all, He has a green thumb!

“Jesus also said, “The Kingdom of God is like a farmer who scatters seed on the ground. Night and day, while he’s asleep or awake, the seed sprouts and grows, but he does not understand how it happens.”

Mark 4:26–27


Michael Osthimer





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