Monday, January 18, 2010

The Gardener - January 18, 2010

John 15:1-4 (New Living Translation)1“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 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.

Have you often wondered why life goes the way it does? You do all that you can to do good and live a humble and productive life, but things always seem to be difficult. Life is hard! You ask yourself, "Even though I try to do what is right for God, what do I need to do to get a break?"

Once again Jesus tries to comfort us and explain how God works in our lives. In ancient Israel cultivating grapes for wine was not only big business to provide a livelihood, but a necessity to provide a staple for living. The rugged hills and arid climate, were ideal for growing grapes, and vineyards and people working among the rows of grapevines was a common sight. Jesus often chose the example of the vineyard to instruct his followers.

In these verses Jesus tries to teach us a lesson through symbolism. In saying he is the true grapevine, he tells us he is the root of who we are, taking us back to the creation. This is what we are told in John 1:1-3 (New International Reader's Version)1 In the beginning, the Word(Jesus Christ) was already there. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 All things were made through him. Nothing that has been made was made without him.

God we are told is the gardener; He goes through the vineyard, which I believe is the world around us, and he cuts off, removes, judges, every branch of the vine, person, that does not produce fruit. Here the fruit is the spiritual product of our lives, love, joy, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are known as the "fruit of the Spirit".

Through pruning, defined as cutting back of what is unwanted for more fruitful growth, God helps us to be more fruitful. Meaning that through the difficult times and struggles that we go through, God desires a result that we will exhibit the characteristcs of a godly life. Jesus goes on to explain that by hearing his word, we already are undergoing life change and we are "cleaning up our act", because of what we have already learned from God's word.

He once again gives us the comforting message that if we will remain in him, stay close to him, seek to include Jesus in our daily lives, and follow his example and instruction as we live our lives, we will be productive for God and for those around us. Our lives will fulfill God's original intent for mankind, to bear the fruit of making this a better place to live.

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