'I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.'
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
I have a very vigorous clematis that grows up through a honeysuckle on a trellis. It produces very large, plate-sized white flowers each summer, but I have to keep it under control as the trellis is not against a wall and there is nowhere for the clematis to grow after about six feet. The trouble is that because the clematis and the honeysuckle are totally entwined and I don't want to cut the honeysuckle right back, I have to guess when pruning the clematis whether I am cutting off the whole plant or only a section, and whether I will lose my beautiful flowers in the summer.
Our verses from John's Gospel above, give us the last 'I am' statement (see the links above). Jesus says He is the vine, and we are the branches, and God the Father will remove any branches that do not bear fruit. So we are to follow Jesus and obey His commands to love God and our neighbour, as well as to grow in faith and love. If we pay only lip-service to His wishes, then he says that we are like branches that are removed from the vine and are burnt. However, the final promise is worth noting - when we follow Jesus as His disciples He will hear and answer our prayers, and God is glorified.
Pruning the clematis is going to be a whole new ball-game this year!
You are the vine
and we are the branches,
help us to produce good fruit -
living out a life of faith and love,
in word and deed.
May we continue to
abide in You,
and grow much fruit.
This is the last of Jesus' 'I am' statements. If you want to look further into all seven of the statements made by Jesus this blog might be useful: