“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.” John 15:5
According to Wikipedia, “Viticulture (from the Latin word for vine) or winegrowing is the cultivation and harvesting of grapes. Viticulturists are often intimately involved with winemakers, because vineyard management and the resulting grape characteristics provide the basis from which winemaking can begin. Duties of the viticulturist include monitoring and fertilizing, irrigation, canopy management, monitoring fruit development and characteristics, deciding when to harvest, and vine pruning during the winter months.”
A grape farmer, or viticulturists, knows his harvest depends upon how well he cares for his vineyard, and specifically, the attention he gives to each individual vine and branch.
In John 15, Jesus uses the analogy of a vineyard and grape farmer as he describes, to an audience, the care and attention that He gives to His followers. He stresses the point that in order for us, the branches, to bear fruit, we must remain connected to the vine, which is Himself. But, unfortunately, verse two of this chapter has been widely misinterpreted, and thus misunderstood.
John 15:2 says, “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.” So, is Jesus saying that the Father is quick to cut off any person that doesn’t produce fruit? Not at all. In fact, all it takes to get a real understanding of what Jesus is actually saying is a little digging. Just take a closer look at the words in this verse that seems to strike fear in the hearts of so many believers, the words “cut off”, or takes away, and the word “prunes.”
The words “cut off” or “take away” in the original Greek language actually mean to “lift up, take up, raise up, elevate, lift from the ground.” While the word “prune or prunes” means “to cleanse from filth, impurity, and guilt, and to expiate. The word “expiate” is defined as, “to make amends for, to extinguish the guilt incurred by.”
Wow! What a difference it makes when we understand what a word really means! So, Jesus is saying that when we, as believers, find ourselves drooping down in the dirt of guilt and condemnation, He patiently lifts us up, and cleanses us off, and as verse three explains, He does this through His word. He goes on even further in verse twenty-six to explain that the “Helper” in all of this is the Holy Spirit, the “Spirit of Truth” who will testify to us of Jesus.
Today, if you find yourself in a place of droopiness from the guilt of mistakes and failures, allow the Father and the Spirit to lift you up, clean you off and set you back in the vine, Jesus, where you were always meant to be.