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Sufficient in God

A Commentary by Constance Vanides

"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, that it may bear more fruit." (John 15:1, 2)

We were excited about growing grapes in the garden of our new house. Soon the vigorous branches covered the lattice arbor and provided cool shade during our hot summer days. I picked the tender leaves, stuffed each one with Mama's wonderful onion/rice stuffing, making "dolmathes". Raves from the family on this culinary delight!

However, the vine was not producing any grapes worth eating! I had much to learn in the ensuing years from the Vinedresser, Himself!

Just recently, a short drive from our home into the countryside we could see perfectly tended vineyards, grapes hanging in marvelous clusters, ready for the vintners. What were we doing wrong? Of course, we hadn't visited the vines during their dormancy season to watch as the vinedressers pruned away the dry long trailing new growth, leaving enough old growth from which the grapes would form.

In John 15:1,2 we have this perfect analogy of the branch, which we are, instructing us that we also need pruning to bear more fruit, requiring only our willingness and surrender to the Vinedresser to allow Him to do His work.

"You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you." (John 15:3)

This curious statement Jesus made to His disciples quoted in John 15:3, had puzzled me. Why, in the middle of His teaching on pruning did Jesus speak about being "clean?" In researching the Greek word from the Interlinear Greek-English New Testament, I discovered our English word, "prunes" in Greek translates to "cleanses." The "word" spoken to His disciples was His process of cleansing, that is, cutting out old established ways with which they had grown, in order to establish new life, to bear fruit worthy of their calling to bring new believers into the kingdom.

"...with the washing of water by the word...that the church should be holy and without blemish." (Ephesians 5:26, 27)

Here again, self-made efforts are cut out, replaced with a "washing by the word." It's part of the preparing the church, the bride of Christ, to receive her bridegroom.

"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me." (John 15:4)

Each of us is an individual, part of the church body, and we are required to grow unto Jesus, to be fully matured into perfected fruit, to become all we were called to be in order to preach Jesus to the world. The early disciples heard the spoken word directly from Jesus. We do likewise by hearing the Holy Spirit speak to us the same truths. We willingly surrender to the Father's cleansing ways with us.

And see what the right kind of pruning of several perfected clusters of grapes! Praise be to God!

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© Constance Vanides