March 17, 2020
All DayCategory: Lenten Devotional
Abiding in the Vine
“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned”(John 15:3-6).
“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” What an amazing statement! It was directed towards his disciples, but is equally applicable to us. Jesus has approached us in our sinfulness and spoken to us. If this means anything at all, it should mean humility and gratitude, and a desire to serve and to please him. “If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit.” How do we do this? By abiding in him and bearing fruit. No one can bear fruit apart from him. All the works of our hands come to nothing without the nourishment of God.
My family and I have the amazing privilege of living in a little wine-growing village in Canton Zurich. In our front garden our landlord and his Vereinmanage a little vineyard. Aside from being exceptionally pretty, the thing that strikes me the most is the amount of work required to maintain it and to make it “fruitful.”
Throughout the spring and the summer, the vines are tended ceaselessly with pruning, tying up and spraying. Any branches which are inferior or not producing fruit are ruthlessly pared back and discarded or gathered up to use as kindling. Every day, it seems, the vineyard is tended with huge dedication and toil. All the while the young grapes are growing and ripening until finally, the much-anticipated day arrives. The whole Verein comes together to gather in the harvest, and the event is celebrated with a great feast.
So it is with us. If we are to abide in Christ and bear fruit, we need constant tending in a community of brothers and sisters. We should tend to each other’s needs and to their well-being so that no one is cut off and all should bear fruit. The alternative is too terrible to comprehend, as in Isaiah 5, where the tended vineyard does not bear fruit and is instead ripe for destruction.
Another fascinating observation from the vineyard is that during the winter months the vines are pared right back to a seemingly barren, ugly stump. One would never think that anything could ever spring from it again, but the vine is tough and enduring. Sure enough, in the spring, it returns to life. We too experience times of desolation, when it seems as though all hope is lost, when we have lost everything. But our hope is that through Christ, by abiding in him, being faithful to him, we will live again.
Let us focus on bearing fruit, like the well-tended vineyard, abiding in Christ, encouraging and caring for each other in anticipation of the day when the harvest will be gathered in.