Read John 15:1-5
1-3 “I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
4 “Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
5-8 “I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. (THE MESSAGE)
Not so long ago in Texas, the local school board were proudly showing distinguished guests around their brand new school building. Everything was state of the art. Attention was especially drawn to the safety systems, including the computer-controlled fire sprinkler system. Everyone was suitably impressed.
Then a few nights later the school was burnt to the ground. Why could such a thing happen given the preventative fire system installed? It seems that someone forgot to connect the sprinkler system to the town water supply, rendering it useless.
Perhaps that is what Jesus is getting at when he speaks of our remaining connected to him. We might look good on the outside but if we aren’t relying on the power and wisdom of God we won’t be who we ought to be.
Our connection to Jesus is maintained by prayer, bible reflection, and meeting with his people. It is enhanced by his ‘pruning’, disciplining us by taking us through hard times. It might not seem to make sense just as pruning a plant seems to make no sense. But what appears to be destructive is in fact constructive.
Note there are only two types of branches. Those that are uncomfortably and surprisingly pruned and those who are simply cut off. Staying connected is the only way to truly follow Jesus, though it won’t always be easy. Then again, it sure beats the alternative!