The Blessing you Don’t Need to Pray for! – John 14
“1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 “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. 6 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. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 14:1-8 NIV
Today’s devotion is on the gift that God gives that we don’t have to pray for! Pruning! Verses 1 and 2 of John 14 surprised me today. I understand when Jesus says that the Father is the gardener in this parable. I get it. Like a gardener grows his garden, God the Father wants to help me grow into the man of God He wants me to be. I understand when Jesus says that He cuts off every branch that bears no fruit. That makes sense to me. The branches that do nothing but exist need to be chopped off since they are really of no use and are simply taking up space. It makes me very nervous, but I do understand that branches that bear no fruit need to be cut off. I have read that there are some views as to what this passage is saying about the believer’s position in Jesus.
The first view says that the cast out branches are ones who were though once true believers; but they end up in Hell because of a lack of fruit. They were once saved, but are now case out. While that could be read from this text, other potions of the scriptures focus so much on the grace that God offers, that I am not sure this is the case.
The second view says that the cast out branches are phony Christians who never really abided in Jesus or followed Him, and therefore go to Hell (like Judas). Perhaps they said the right things, went to church, and even participated in the ministry, but because they never really gave their lives to following Jesus, they never really allowed the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control) to flow out from their lives. The third view says that the branches case out are fruitless Christians who live wasted – burnt up – lives (like Lot).
They stewarded the gifts that God gave them poorly and come and stand before Jesus knowing that they never really took the effort to do anything significant for Him. Verse 2 however bothers me as it says that the branch that “does bear fruit, he prunes…” In other words, if my life does not bear fruit, I will be cut off. If my life does bear fruit, the Master will STILL cut and prune me!
Of course I would rather be “pruned” than “cut off.” Being “cut off” seems to imply that I am no longer connected with the vine (Jesus). Being pruned implies that there are parts that are of me that are cut off, but I am still connected with the vine (Jesus). No one raises apple trees, grape vines, or orange trees to look at the leaves. When people take time to cultivate a plant, we want the fruit. When someone takes the time to plant, water, fertilize, and nurture a plant, we typically do so in order to bring forth the fruit (or the flowers). We don’t do it to observe leaves or to eat smell the branches! God took the time to create, nurture, provide, lead, and shepherd me. His desire is for me to be a fruit bearer. In order to be a fruit bearer, I must be pruned by the hand of the Master. I don’t ask to be pruned. I don’t pray to be pruned. It is simply a blessing that God gives me without me even asking.
Thank You Jesus. Thank You Jesus that You know what is best for me and that You value what I need, over what I want. Make me into the person You want me to be. Amen.