#896. My Father is the gardener (12/9/23)
This week, we are looking at how John 15:1-17 is to be applied personally. How is this great command and promise of remaining in the vine to be applied in my life? Yesterday, we briefly considered what it means for Jesus to be the ‘true vine’ and today we’ll reflect on the truth that ‘my Father is the gardener’.
‘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.’ (John 15:1-2)
Lesson: The Father is judge and sanctifier. He righteously judges and condemns those who are not connected to Jesus, whilst He sanctifies and improves those who are connected to Jesus.
You can listen to this devotional at:
Firstly, this is about the united work that the Father, Son and Spirit are doing together: The Son is compared to a life-giving vine; the Father is compared to a gardener; and the Spirit’s work is implicit as the life that flows from the vine to the branches. (And let’s remember that chapter 15 is a development of His teaching on the Spirit in chapter 14).
How is the Father working?
The Father is described as ‘the gardener’ or ‘vinedresser’ (ESV). The Greek word, geōrgós, means to be a farmer or keeper of a vineyard. Jesus is referencing what we read in Isaiah 5:
‘I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: my loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.’ (Isaiah 5:1-2)
This is about unfaithful Israel who were yielding bad fruit in their unfaithfulness to God. Now, in the New Covenant era, Jesus is promising that those who come to Him and remain in Him will bear good fruit for the glory of God. The Father wants us to bear good fruit and He is actively working to make us fruitful and increase our yield. His work as the gardener is described in two ways:
i. He cuts of dead branches
We are told that ‘He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit…’ What does this mean? Who are these unfruitful branches? Is Jesus threatening us with the potential of losing our salvation if we are not fruitful enough? Can a living branch become a dead branch that is thrown into the fire - a reference to hell? I don’t believe that Jesus is teaching that one can lose their salvation. These unfruitful branches are not connected to Christ and, therefore, cannot be Christians. I believe that He’s teaching that there are people who look like living branches (wolves in sheep’s clothing is another analogy He uses) but are, in reality, dead branches.
ii. He prunes or cleans fruitful branches
The second aspect of the Father’s work is described: ‘…while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.’
‘Prune’ (kathaírō) means to prune or clean. This describes the often painful work that God is doing in us to make us more fruitful.
This is the work of sanctification. The Father is working through His word taught and studied, His discipline of us, fellowship etc. to make us more like Christ.
The Father is judge and sanctifier. He righteously judges and condemns those who are not connected to Jesus, whilst He sanctifies and improves those who are connected to Jesus. Let’s apply the analogies of the Father’s work of cutting dead branches off and pruning to ourselves personally:
Firstly, we have seen that the Father is at work to bring into judgement those who seem to be in Christ but are unfruitful. To apply this personally, we are to ask: Am I connected to Jesus - Have I put my faith entirely in Him? Am I being fruitful - Do I desire to love God and people? Am I fearful of condemnation or am I secure in Jesus’ gift of justification and life through the cross?
Secondly, the Father is pruning and cleaning us. Are we trusting that in all things God is working for our good - to make us more like Jesus? Can we see that if we are to be more fruitful, we must undergo pruning?
Together in September
In September, we are having two Together Evenings, on Wednesday the 6th and Wednesday the 13th from 7p.m. (When there will be a light meal provided).
We will be using this time to come together for worship, teaching and prayer with a view to re-launching community groups afterwards.
Please put these dates in your diary, we would love to see as many people there as possible.