Written by Cathy Schrock - Heartland Church - Fort Wayne, IN
Illustrated by Deana Harvey
I recently read a short book by Bruce Wilkinson – an easy read — called “Secrets of the Vine.” In this book, he talks about meeting a man who owned and worked a vineyard. This vinedresser explained to the author all about John 15, the portion of Scripture in which Jesus portrays Himself as a grapevine and the church as the branches of that vine. The vinedresser had a long conversation with the author to give him some crucial insights into what Jesus was actually talking about and what His portrayals look like in the real life of the church, the Bride of Christ.
I was fascinated by a particular insight shared by the vinedresser in regard to John 15:2. He explained the passage from a vinedresser’s perspective. The verse reads, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” (NASB) Some versions use “cuts off” or “takes away” when referring to the branch that does not bear fruit. This is an unfortunate misreading of the original Greek word airos, which actually means “to lift up.” The vinedresser went on to explain that when he discovers a branch that has fallen or been pulled onto the ground, he does not cut it off; it is too valuable. Instead, he lifts it up off the ground, washes off the dirt or mud, and weaves or ties it back into the vine so it can grow in a healthy environment and bear fruit.
In using the proper translation of the Greek word in that sentence, “lifts up,” we see a true picture of our loving Father, who deems each of His children as worthy of being lifted up, cleaned off, and restored to fellowship in the Body of Christ. Sometimes, we get pulled away from the vine; other times we may jump out of it of our own volition. Either way, we end up lying in the dirt of sin and this world. The Lord comes along and gently washes us clean, lifts us up, and restores us to the place of health and fruitfulness. He is always gracious, gently and lovingly restoring us to our proper position in the Body of Christ, and inviting us to join Him in His work by bearing eternal fruit for His Kingdom. Remember: as long as we are walking with our Lord in obedience to His voice, bearing more fruit is always possible.
READ: John 15:1-17; Hebrews 12:5-11
PRAY: Father, thank you for the gracious way You lift me up out of the muck of this world and set me up in a safe, healthy place where I can still grow and bear fruit for Your Kingdom.