In the early spring, as the heat from the sun bears down and the wind whispers through the vineyard, the grapevine begins to put on branches. As the nutrients and moisture are drawn up through the roots and distributed through the branches, they double and triple in size almost over night. Inch by inch, foot by foot they grow away from the strength and stability of the vine and with their own weight pulled by the natural force of gravity they find themselves drawn slowly to the ground below. On the ground, they run wildly, seeking the heat of the sun, but eventually covered by the dust of the soil their fresh newly formed leaves become dirty, distressed and diseased.
This was the vivid picture Jesus was painting in the minds of His disciples in John 15, when He declared, “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He (the vinedresser) takes away.” Jesus uses a very descriptive Greek word to describe what the vinedresser does when this occurs in the vineyard. Sadly it is not translated very well in any of our English versions and thus we miss a very beautiful portrait of God’s grace applied to the believer’s life.
The word Jesus uses is “airo” and is better translated “to lift up from the ground” instead of “to take away.” Elsewhere in the New Testament, this word is used to describe the disciples picking up the fragments of food after the feeding of the five thousand (Matt. 14:20) and of Simon being forced to bear (pick up and carry) Jesus’ cross (Matt. 27:32). Don’t miss this spectacular meaning as Jesus uses this very specific term.
The vine produces the fruit but the branches bear it. Therefore every branch must be lifted up from the ground and attached to the trellis. Branches left on the ground bear no fruit and are either trampled under foot or they become diseased. A good vinedresser, intent on maximizing the yield of his vineyard, regularly walks through the vineyard in the spring and early summer alertly looking for braches that have fallen to the ground and when he finds one, he gently lifts up the branch and washes the dirt and grim away. Then he carefully trims away the damaged or diseased growth and with loving kindness weaves it carefully back into the trellis. There in the warmth of the sun, with the gentle breeze of the wind, the branch is keep dry and healthy, away from the deadly fungus that grows in the dampness of the ground.
This is the picture Jesus desires that you see and understand. He does not cast away the branches that are “in Him,” but He does do whatever is necessary to produce fruit through you. We often stumble and fall to the ground, but the Vinedresser never allows you to stay there. Instead He “lifts you up from the ground,” and through the cleansing of His blood through repentance, He then places you in a position where the warmth of His life and the wind of His Holy Spirit can maximize your ability “to bear more and richer and more excellent fruit” (Amplified Bible). He will discipline His branches but make no mistake He will not discard you. His goal is to produce in you the richest most abundant fruit possible and He will do whatever is necessary to cause you to reach His potential for you.
Will you allow Him to lift you up, cleanse you, and weave you into the place where you can bear the fruit He desires to produce or are you comfortable there on the damp ground where the warmth of the Son and the wind of the Spirit are never experienced and where your constant companions are disease, blight, and fungus? Remember this simple principle of bearing fruit: Position is everything. Lifted up or left down, the direction always determines the difference in the harvest.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.” (John 15:1-2)