Word from Scotland: The Vinedresser needs a hoe and a knife
We are reading and studying in John’s Gospel where in Chapter 15, Jesus Christ and His men are making their way from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane, and as they pass the gates of the Temple Jesus sees these two large clusters of golden grapes on the doors.
Israel had been planted as the vineyard of the Lord God Almighty and God had never been able to pick the fruit. Israel was planted to be the people who would be the light to the Gentile nations, but the light had never shone all that brightly, and now Jesus says, “I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener”.
I am the true vine and my Father is the vinedresser.
Jesus goes on to say that if you want to bring forth fruit you have to abide in Me.
If you want to be spiritually fruitful, you have to be united with me and to Me.
We are regarded as a branch of the vine and God the gardener is looking for fruit.
The vinedresser needs a hoe and a knife. The vinedresser will use the hoe to keep the ground clear of all other things.
Are there things growing away in your life which you know should not be there and they are being hoed down? Are there things competing for a place – or competing for time – which should be reserved for Jesus Christ alone? There are certain things Jesus will just not permit, and why? He knows just how dangerous they are.
The second tool which the vinedresser carries is the Pruning Knife. Jesus Christ cares for us sufficiently to give us peace, and He loves us sufficiently to cut us back, and to cut us down where necessary. There are times when if God is going to get the fruit He is looking for, He has to use His sharp pruning knife – and that can be sore.
God can hurt but He will never harm. This pruning knife is to enable us to become spiritually healthy – a disease free vine which will produce more fruit.
To be productive and fruitful, that which He considers wasteful, must be cut out.
Some branches just produce leaves and so waste the nourishing sap. These have to be removed – cut out – and even thrown away. They are not only useless – they are a positive handicap.
In the Church of Jesus Christ, Jesus is looking for spiritual growth and significant fruit. God does not allow a branch to remain there just producing nothing. If it produces nothing, He comes along with His Pruning Knife. Even when there is a little fruit He comes and cuts the branch back to almost nothing, in order to produce more fruit – verse 2.
Pruning is inevitable. You get pruned if you are good. You get pruned if you are not. You are pruned if you produce no fruit, and although it is sore, it would be much worse if no-one were to come and do the pruning. It would mean only leaves and never ever any fruit.
Pruning is not punishment. It is remedial. It is God’s remedy so that our lives and ministries can produce more fruit for His glory and Kingdom.
The world’s psychology is – ‘the more the better’ – but that is not God’s way. With God, the better way is pruning and pruning is not pretty. It will often leave the look of death, but after the initial shock, there is recovery.
There is new growth. There is new life. There is resurrection.
Remember, this is being said to these disciple, just as Jesus Christ was about to be pruned back to nothing.
He prunes, and He heals that which was severely pruned, so that there might be fruitfulness.
King David knew pruning. After his success, he had to be shut in – from national leader to cave dweller overnight – but it served a purpose. God always has a purpose and it is normally to produce more. David could have said, “This is not fair” but ‘fair play’ is not God’s way.
Pruning with its accompanying pain will not excite us. When we feel we are being cut down to size – when we wonder why this is happening to us – again? – and even again? – but eventually, the pain will be exchanged for fruit.
His supreme method of cutting us down to size is through the Word.
When the Word is sore and hurtful, we must not cast it aside or run away from it. That can be God at work in us. When you are being pruned – when things are wounding and painful because you belong to Jesus Christ – do not think God is a million miles from you. When He comes to prune us He comes so close to you with His pruning knife, and you are never nearer the vine than when you are pruning it.
The nearest you are to your roses during the whole year, is when you are pruning them, and looking for that bud which will produce the finest flower – some weeks and months later.