“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. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.”
Have you ever had a time were you have had to prune a favourite tree or plant. It almost feels like you are killing or destroying it. As you cut off the dry twigs and trim down the deadwood, one wonders if it will kill the plant or tree. Yet all fears are alleviated when spring comes and you start seeing the plants and tree growing again, even more beautifully than the previous years. The same is with our walk with God.
Jesus said that the Gardener (Father God), prunes the branches (us), so that we will produce even more fruit for Him and in our lives. Sometimes it’s painful when we realise that God is gently trimming off the things in our lives that need to be got rid of. We almost want to cling on to them as if we know best. Yet a life unpruned, untrimmed and undisciplined, is a life leading only to destruction. Staying connected to the source, to the root of Jesus, is the ONLY way to continue to grow in Him. We are fed and pruned by His word and we are purified by His message! Then we will be even more beautiful for our KING!
“I am the true grapevine and My Father is the gardener”. . . . .“Yes I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.””
Jesus in John chapter 15, gives us a picture of the vine tree as a symbolism of our position in Him. Jesus explains that He is the vine and we are the branches. The Father is the gardener and sustainer of the tree. The Father prunes the branches so that they will produce more fruit and cuts of the dead branches that don’t produce fruit. Yet the source of a tree’s fruit never comes from the branches itself, but the nutrients that are absorbed by the root of the tree. Jesus again alludes to this and reminds us ‘that we can do nothing apart from Him’. If we want to produce fruit in our lives, then we need to stay connected to the source, to Jesus Christ.
Although this is a simple illustration of who we are in Jesus, Jesus highlights again and again throughout this analogy, that we need to remain in Him. The fruit we produce is love, peace, joy, and patience. It’s kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control. The great truth of the tree analogy is that we produce fruit that mirror Jesus’ character. The more we feed from Him, the more we grow in Him, the more we become like Him and produce fruit that shows Jesus through our lives. Remain in Jesus. Feed on and grow in Jesus. Remain in Him!
“The seed of good deeds becomes a tree of life; a wise person win friends.”
It takes a long time for a tree that is planted, to bear any resemblance to what we might imagine it to look like. From the seed first being planted, to its constant care and nurture as it grows, a tree can take years to fully form and stand towering above the person who planted it. Yet when that tree is fully formed, it stands its ground when storms rage, provides fruit and flowers in its season, shade from the sunlight and its branches help build homes for birds. Yet the beginnings of the tree’s life, a small seed, may seem so small and insignificant.
Interestingly, we can also find similarities in our lives to that of the analogy of the seed and tree. Our seeds are good works (the sowing of the gospel) and the trees are the lives of people we have sown into. We may not always see the finished product of firm Christians, steady in the faith and firm in their foundation, but that’s okay. Our role is to shower God’s goodness wherever we are so that His Spirit can provide the growth and open people’s eyes to who Jesus really is. What we can take courage in, is knowing that our good works, our sowing of the seeds of the gospel, are nurtured and cared for by the Holy Spirit, to become trees of life, firmly rooted in Jesus Christ.
Let our light (and good works) so shine before men that they will want to know Jesus for themselves.
“When Jesus had tasted it, He said, “It is finished!” Then He bowed His head and released His spirit.””
Behold the man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders;
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers.
It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished;
His dying breath has brought me life –
I know that it is finished.
Jesus came down from the cross and rose again on the third day. Yet sometimes we live our lives as if Jesus was still hanging there. We resonate with the wonderful song lyrics written above and say, ‘Yes it was MY sin that held Him there.’ We hang onto those words and live our lives, daily nailing Jesus back to the cross saying, ‘Lord, it is my sin that is holding You on the cross!’ BUT, then Jesus says back us, ‘My child, yes it is your sin that nailed me to the cross, but it is finished!! I have good news, I came down from the cross!’ Yes, that’s right. Jesus didn’t stay on the cross. He came down. He is resurrected to have a personal and living relationship with you, free from the chains and guilt and condemnation of your sin. Jesus came down from the cross. We don’t need to keep nailing Him there because it is done, it is finished, it is over. Jesus paid the price for our sins once and for all; for all time, for all of humanity, everywhere. ‘His dying breath has brought me life – BECAUSE I know that it is finished’! Hallelujah!
“You will tell His people how to find salvation through forgiveness of their sins. Because of God’s tender mercy, the morning light from Heaven is about to break upon us, to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, and to guide us to the path of peace.”
Zechariah’s prophecy over John the Baptist remains, even to this day, a wonderful reminder of John’s role in preparing the way for the Christ, but also stands as a declaration of who Jesus was and what He came to do.
Through John the Baptist’s declaration many people did believe in Jesus as the Messiah. He boldly declared that Jesus had come to take away their sins and that through His life, may people would be saved. John the Baptist’s role in preparing the way for Jesus, was even prophesied before he was born when the angel Gabriel came to John’s father, Zechariah, whilst he was in the temple fulfilling his duties as a priest. Gabriel declared to Zechariah that John would “turn many Israelites to the Lord their God…..He will prepare the people for the coming of the Lord.”
As John grew older he did just that. He declared that Jesus was truly the Lamb of God, able to take the sins of the world and in so doing, lead people to the path of peace and out of the shadows of death and darkness.
That same message is still preached across the world today and is the hope and joy that we hold on to. Jesus did come to save us from our sins and to lead us out of darkness, into the path of peace and light. His word lives on forever. May we accept His generous love and kindness and hold on to the hope of His salvation.