The Vine and Branches

What is the job description of a vinedresser? The definition of vinedresser is “an agriculturalist who cultivates and prunes grapevines”. Pruning is one of the most important job of a vinedresser. A vinedresser is involved in daily pruning of grapevines, to help ensure that vineyard has a successful crop. Pruning is critical in the grape production system. The reasons for pruning include deadwood removal, controlling and directing the growth by pinching off the tip, reducing risk of falling branches by topping the larger branches etc – all resulting in increasing the yield or quality of fruits and flowers. 

In the Scripture, there are some interesting references to vine, vineyard, vinedresser and pruning. John 15:1-2 says

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 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.

Here Jesus is making the last of the seven ‘I AM’ declarations recorded in John, the prior ones being

  1. I AM the bread of life (John 6:35)
  2. I AM the light of world (John 8:12)
  3. I AM the door (John 10:9)
  4. I AM the good shepherd (John 10:11)
  5. I AM the resurrection and the life (John 11:25)
  6. I AM the way, truth and the life (John 14:6)
  7. I AM the true vine (John 15:1)

The last declaration is recorded as an extended metaphor where Jesus is symbolizing the true vine to Himself, branches to believers, and fruits to Spiritual fruits and Father to gardener or vinedresser. Let us examine these symbolisms as applied to our daily life.

Vine and branches not bearing fruits

What does God expect from us as ‘branches’ in the vine? We are expected to bear Fruits of Spirit -  love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5: 22-23). The branches which do not bear fruits are cut-off from the vine by the gardener. Those who are called to be Christians are given a stern warning here to check our lives and review our association with the vine - Jesus. The association with Jesus needs to be real and fruit bearing, by carrying Him in our hearts.


Vine and branches bearing good fruits

What about the branches that bear fruits? After talking about branches that bear no fruits, Jesus moves on to talk about the branches that do bear fruits.

Spiritual pruning will be done by the Father on the fruitful branches. This pruning might hurt, because it can come in the form of sickness, hardships, or loss of material assets. It could be persecution from non-believers. It can come in the form of losing loved ones or losing jobs or a combination of difficulties. If we look upon trials and problems as pruning done by our loving Vinedresser, then our approach to problems will be very different. We will not lapse into fear, disappointment, complaining or brooding if we consider the difficulties as techniques implemented on us to bear more spiritual fruits. In fact, hardships are the right of a Christian.

Vines producing bad fruits

What would a vinedresser do to a vine that does not produce the best fruits?  It will be removed to give space for a better vine to grow. In the Song of the Vineyard (Isaiah 5: 1-7), Isaiah explains this situation of bad fruits.

1 I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. 
2 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. 
3 "Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah, judge between me and my vineyard. 
4 What more could have been done for my vineyard than I have done for it? When I looked for good grapes, why did it yield only bad? 
5 Now I will tell you what I am going to do to my vineyard: I will take away its hedge, and it will be destroyed; I will break down its wall, and it will be trampled. 
6 I will make it a wasteland, neither pruned nor cultivated, and briers and thorns will grow there. I will command the clouds not to rain on it." 
7 The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.

In the Old Testament, Vine is referred for the entire Israel and God is the vinedresser. Vines bearing bad fruits would face destruction was the warning given to Israel. Today, as followers of Christ, we are already protected from that destruction. The vine for Christians is already there, established by God by sending his only son Jesus.

We – as branches – should just abide to Jesus, accept the continuous pruning techniques applied on us by Father and keep producing the best Spiritual fruits. During this, we will be subjected to variety of trials and hardships where Satan will use discouragement or disappointment or depression as the tools to turn us away from God. Joseph, Moses, Naomi, Job, David, Jonah, Elijah, Jeremiah are great examples of lives who came out of such tests successfully. Let us trust in the grace of God, go to Him in prayer, read His Word and choose to see hand of God in everything that takes place in our life.


- By Biju George