Parable of Vine and Vinedresser
Why was Jesus taking the time to talk to his disciples about grapes when he knew Judas would be returning with the soldiers? SBB Las Vegas
Jesus is operating on God's timetable, not Judas' or the Pharisees'. He took time to share a message that would last in the minds of his disciples. The expression, "a picture is worth a 1000 words," applies in this instance. He is establishing a metaphor between the growing of the grapes and the future of the Christian church.
Jesus explains to his disciples that he is the vine and that God is the vinedresser. These men knew grapes and how to cultivate them. He was showing them how to tend to church members. The vine is a 3-4 foot trunk that grows out of the ground. The branches grow in either direction out of the trunk. The vinedresser's responsibility is to get the largest and tastiest grapes out of the vineyard.
We are the branches. Look at this verse:
John 15:2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Bruce Wilkinson beautifully addresses the example of the vine and the branches in his book, The Secrets of the Vine. He divides this verse into two categories: disciplining and pruning.
It is frightening to contemplate that if we don't bear fruit we're cut off, or taken away. Wilkinson points out that in the Greek, the word "airo" means "take away as in take up or lift up." So what does this mean? If the new branch is trailing in the dust, it gets wet and muddy and is incapable of producing fruit. The vinedresser must come along and wash these branches and tie them up so they can grow and bear fruit. Wasn't Jesus teaching us this lesson when he washed his disciples' feet?
Jesus is speaking of cleaning the branch and lifting it up. God doesn't abandon us if we're not bearing fruit. He prepares us to be fruitful.
What about the second part of the verse – the purging? All that is required to grow a bigger crop is to give up what is unnecessary in our lives. Leaves can readily overtake a grape vine. Too many leaves rob the grapes of needed sunlight. So we need to get rid of unnecessary leaves. Symbolically that might translate to anything that drains us of our joy, robs us of our time and energy to accomplish things for God.
Jesus is preparing his disciples to start the church. The barren branch (member) needs the cleansing and lifting up process. The fruitful branch (member) needs pruning. This wonderful lesson let's Jesus' disciples know they can do this. They have God's love at hand to guide them, just as we do.