In John 15:1-8, Jesus tells a story that conveys almost everything we need to know in order to live as His disciple. It’s the familiar parable of the vine and the branches. The fact that the passage is so familiar is problematic. Those who have followed Christ for many years and have become well versed in the Bible often tend to read well-known portions of scripture rapidly and without a lot of engagement. The parable of “The Vine and the Branches” is all about engagement. Jesus says that if we will stay connected to Him, He will stay connected to us. Being connected requires a relationship, which means we will be engaging with Christ and His words.
Jesus refers to Himself as the vine, and states that God will remove every branch from the vine that does not produce fruit. Traditionally this has been understood to mean that those who don’t follow Christ will be cut off from the Kingdom of God. I believe we can take this a step further and apply this to our individual lives as well. If we submit to His will, God will trim away the things in our life that do not honor Him. He will bless and nurture the “branches” of our life that do bring glory to God. If we will stay connected to Him, He will see to it that we not only grow, but that we will thrive. He’ll remove the dead and sinful branches from our lives so that all that is good and pleasing to Him might flourish. That is how we come to live an abundant life, one that is lived to the fullest extent (John 10:10).
In order to receive the pruning we all need, we must allow the words of Christ to become part of us. In fact if we do this, He promises to give us whatever we ask (John 15:7). Many have balked at this verse claiming that God hasn’t given them that for which they have asked, but they forget about our part of the equation. In order to claim this promise, we must remain in Christ and His words must remain in us. God’s Word must become like breathing to us. Everything we do must have the goal of bringing glory to God. Every step we take should be one that is taken in obedience to the commands of Jesus. When we live in such a way, our requests will be aligned to the purposes of the Kingdom, and not with our own selfish wants and desires. What an amazing way to live!
I encourage you to spend some time to today reading slowly through John 15:1-8. Ask yourself, “What branches of my life are dead and need to be trimmed away?” Ask God to begin the process of pruning you to look more like Him. Ask Him for a hunger and thirst for His Word. Don’t just hear the words He speaks to you through the parable, but take action and truly engage in His Word and His promises (James 1:22). Stay connected so that you might experience the joy of Jesus (John 15:11).