Almost all of us have heard this story from Jesus’s teaching: I am the vine, you are the branches. It makes sense on the face of it: Jesus is the source of our life in this world. Our connection, our union, with him, gives us life and nourishment the same way that a vine gives life and nourishment to its shoots and branches.
But there is more to the scene than meets the eye. Notice that the Father is intimately involved in the vine’s well-being. He is the Vinedresser. When a branch bears fruit, he prunes it. Literally, he cuts some of it off, so that more fruit will eventually grow.
Jesus was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief. He learned obedience through his sufferings. But his suffering was never an indication of his Father’s absence or lack of concern for him. The Father has eternal, perfect love for the Son! In the same way, when we walk through sorrows and troubles in this world as a result of our union with Christ, we can be sure that the Vinedresser is doing good work. The Father’s love for the Son is now his love for us!
Abiding or remaining in Christ as a teenager means that both fruit and pruning will come. We will enjoy the great blessings of God’s favor in our lives by our communion with him, as well as his discipline. Both are gifts! And both, as Jesus tells us here, lead to our joy.
But also notice what happens to branches who do not bear fruit. They are removed. The branches themselves wither away and are thrown into a fire to be burned. This is a real warning to those who might think they have union with Christ because they were raised in church, or recited a prayer, or live a “moral” life. None of these things bear real, lasting, God-glorifying fruit.
Student, have you been united to Jesus by faith? Have you repented of your sins and placed your trust in the source of eternal life? Joy awaits all those who receive life from the vine.
Student, are you hurting? Are you suffering from the brokenness of this world? Remember that God the Father is our Vinedresser. While no one likes getting pruned, we can trust that his works are always for our good.
No matter where you are at this week as we begin our FUEL Weekend, God has something for you. I pray that you will listen for his voice, find him in His Word, and surrender to his love and grace.