“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 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.” (John 15:1-2, NLT
As I previously stated, my friends and I have been studying “Scouting the Divide by Margaret Feinberg. In our last devotional, we saw God as our Good Shepherd and how He treated people differently depending on their needs. Today we’ll look at the relationship between God and the Vine. And the importance of Jesus being the Vine and us as the branches.
My daughters surprised me with a weekend trip to visit several vineyards for my birthday. During this fantastic trip and spending quality time with my daughters, I realized firsthand the significance of Jesus’ words when He referred to Himself as the Vine and us as the branches.
But I learned so much more! Taking care of a vineyard is a highly complex task. I had the pleasure of interviewing some of the workers who gave us a tour of their vineyard and explained the process of planting, pruning, harvesting, and finally making the wine.
So, what biblical lesson did God want me to learn while visiting these vineyards and learning about the winemaking process? John 2:1-11 tells the story of how Jesus changed water into wine. This miracle was the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. According to the vineyard workers I spoke with, Jesus turning water into wine was truly a miracle because fine wine takes three or more years to make. And during this time, each process has its own time and season. It cannot be rush it. Growing a vineyard requires heart, passion, patience, endurance, and hope. During each season, the winemaker must decide which vine should be pruned and by how much. If he cuts the wrong branch, the entire vine will suffer. Pruning requires a great deal of care, patience, and knowledge of each vine individually.
When Jesus asked the servants to fill the jars with water and turn the water into wine, He did more than perform a miracle; He transcended time. Jesus showed that He is the God of the Impossible and is not bound by time. He demonstrated who He was to the servants, His disciples, and the bride and groom. The wine was the best they had ever tasted. This miracle was a foreshadowing of His death on the cross.
One of the lessons I learned during my visit to the vineyard was that no one individual can do everything. Different workers carry out other jobs. You have the vineyard keeper, the vinedresser, the workers who gather the grapes at harvest, and those who grind them and add the appropriate yeast, sugar, and other ingredients to produce the perfect wine.
We also discovered that people in the vineyard often have multiple roles. Jesus said to his disciples, I am the Vine, and my Father is more than just the Vinedresser (a person who cultivates and prunes grapevines); He is also the Vineyard owner, manager, and vintner. But of all the titles, Jesus gives the title of Vinedresser to His Father, who is the one pruning or sculpting the tree.
So, what was the role of the vinedresser? Why is his job so important? According to Kristol, the farmer interviewed by Margaret Feinberg (1976),
It may surprise you, but whoever is pruning a vine is the master. Even in our vineyards, the owner may possess the land and might be making the wine, but it’s the guy making $12 an hour with the shears who has all the power. (p.111 )
A vinedresser is someone who cultivates and prunes grapevines. Our Heavenly Father is the one that knows every vine individually, and because he knows them, He treats them all individually.
Reflecting on the quote, “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.” (John 15:2, NLT), Kristof explained to Ms. Feinberg,
You’d see another branch without fruit and cut it off. But as a vintner, there’s a lot more decision-making and experience going on in this passage than appears at first glance. It’s the little cuts that are the most impactful. You can’t come in with a pair of shears and clip like crazy. You don’t just look at what appears to be a dead branch and cut it off, then look at a branch full of fruit and think it’s fine. But throughout pruning, you make precise, strategic cuts to produce the healthiest, most robust Vine. (p. 112)
I’ve discovered that pruning can be quite painful. Consider the times we go through trials and testing. We don’t like it, but the vine must grow healthy and produce fruits at the appropriate time and season. According to Kristof, if the wrong cut is done, the vine won’t bear fruit. To avoid this from happening, the vines must be properly examined. Each vine is different and requires a different cut.
This is also true in our lives. God, our Father, knows each of us individually. He knows every hair on our heads. He knows what makes us happy and what makes us sad.
But He also knows what causes us to stumble. So, He carefully removes those things that do not belong in our hearts. Jeremiah says that God has good plans for us. (See Jeremiah 29:11). He wants what is best for us. So, when He begins His pruning, we may not like those small or sometimes significant cuts, but they are done to help us grow into the person He created us to be. As I watched a vinedresser prune the vines, I saw myself as one of those branches that needed to be pruned. I need the Lord to remove all those things that are preventing me from becoming the person He created me to be. The Lord prunes us every day. Sometimes, we get a break, but if we continue to allow those thorns to choke us and separate us from the Vine, our life source, God will prune us.
Friends, the vines are an ideal portrait of abiding because Jesus is the Vine. We dependent on the Vine to get the proper nutrients, suitable soil, the correct pruning, and plenty of loving care; it requires a lot of love. Our Father, the Vinedresser, knows each vine individually. Only the vinedresser knows what each vine needs. Why? Because He knows us.
King David stated in Psalm 139:1-5, “O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know, when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I will say even before I say it, Lord. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head.”
“You made all the delicate inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous- how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in the utter seclusion as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O Lord.” (Psalm 139:13-17 NLT)
While listening to the vineyard’s innkeeper, I remembered how this was a beautiful image of how Jesus abides with God to care for the entire Vineyard and how the branches must stay in the Vine to survive; to obtain the nutrients they need and to receive the necessary care to bear fruits in the harvest.
Friends, the Vine is the source of everything, including life and nutrients to the branches. King David understood this principle. Apart from the Lord, he was nothing; the same is true for us. When we abide in Jesus, the true Vine, it means we have complete trust in Him, no matter what season we are in. According to the scripture, you produce fruits for the glory of the Father. Abiding means making yourself comfortable with the Lord to the point that you completely surrender your heart without hesitation. But this can only happen when we put Jesus first in our lives and, offer our hearts emotions, and remove anything that takes God’s place away from us.
When you abide in God’s Word and reveal your Heart to Him, you grow more intimately with Jesus and get to know Him better daily. And once you know Him, you will not be afraid because you will know that God is with you and in you.
After her research, Ms. Feinberg concluded: “To grow, we must be out back. And as the vine can’t produce quality grapes year-round, neither can we expect to be fruitful daily. Though painful, pruning is one of God’s most significant acts of love. Through the winter, I discovered God’s greatest act of love. Through the winter, I found God as the keeper of the vine-One who protects and nurtures us so we can bear the fruit He has set out for us to produce” (p.115).
So, friends, were you able to get a deeper understanding of who God is and why He is the keeper of the Vine? I pray the Lord will open your spiritual eyes so you will begin to see our Father as our Vinekeeper, and Jesus as our Vine, the source of our life. We will bear fruit as long as we remain in Him. We will be protected and guided while we run our race, knowing that Jesus is our source of strength.
Lord, thank You for showing me how much You love us through this study and the experience of visiting one of these vineyards. You are my; protector; You prune what needs to be pruned so I can grow and finally become the woman You created me to be. Remove those old branches that are stopping me from reaching my true potential. Help me through Your wisdom to be aware of those areas, busyness, family, attitude, and even unforgiveness, and root them out. Please guide me to make wise choices and remember that You are in my life. You never leave my side. In Jesus’ name, I thank You for Your love, mercy, and grace. In Your name, amen.
Almodovar-Caporusso, C. (2023). Long Island Wine Country. [Photograph].
Feinberg, M. (1976). Scouting the Divine-My Search for God in Wine, Wool, and Wild Honey. Middletown, DE: The Lockman Foundation.
The Holy Bible, New Living Translation. (1996). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Foundation.
Merriam-Webster (n.d.). Vinedresser. In the Merriam-Webster.com dictionary. Retrieved August 1, 2023 https://www.merriamwebster.com/dictionary/vinedresser