Pour yourself a fresh cup of coffee and meditate with me on the second half of verse two. It reads, “….while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful (John 15:2b, NIV).
Jesus gives three parables concerning vineyards and you can find all three in the New Testament book of Matthew (20:1-16, 21:28-32, and 21:33-46). In relating himself to the vine, Jesus made the vine a sacred Christian symbol with His teaching in John 15:1-17, from where our devotional thought is taking today. This is one of those beautiful passages that, the more you meditate on it, the more it unveils deeper spiritual truths.
Viticulturists protect the quality of the fruit by the pruning (cutting off or from) of branches. Using a small sickle-shaped knife called a pruning hook; the caretaker cuts away unfruitful and dead branches and gathers them for burning. He then carefully prunes the healthy branches to make them even more fruitful. By reducing the number and size of the branches, more nourishment can flow from the vine to the remaining healthy branches enlarging the fruit and ensuring a larger harvest. In addition to pruning, the viticulturist protects the vineyard from foxes, wide hogs, and a host of other wild menacing animals. Towels were often erected in vineyards for the caretaker to keep watch over the vineyard.
God is our Sovereign Viticulturist ever keeping a watchful eye from His throne-tower to protect us from every wild demonic beast that would harm us. Scripture teaches us that Satan seeks to kill, steal, and destroy. He “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (First Peter 5:8b, NIV). Jesus said in John 10:10 that Satan “comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (NIV). Sometimes the damaged branches have to be cut off from the vine for the sake of the vine; but more often than not, the damaged branches are carefully tended back to health. Likewise, God is sometimes forced to remove a damaged branch, but more times than not, God will carefully mend us back to health.
The real thrust of the second half of verse two is that God prunes the lives of Christians. Christians who are fruit bearing believers are painfully pruned by the Master’s shears. He prunes away the parts of our braches that would cause the fruit to be less than perfect. This is a painful process for the branch. As we are being pruned, we may feel that the Caretaker is not treating us right. We may complain and ask “Why me?” It is hard to trust the Caretaker when He holds the pruning shears and we are being clipped and snipped. It is hard to trust Him when our smaller branches are being cut away and the pain is real. Yet, God has our best interest in mind and the fruit He produces through us will be all the larger and sweeter, because God cares enough to prune our lives for the betterment of His kingdom and ourselves.
So enjoy the flavor of the coffee and ask God to help you bring forth a larger and sweater fruit, for His glory and honor, then anticipate the pruning.