” A vineyard of wine, sing of it! I the LORD, am its keeper; I water it every moment. Lest anyone damage it, I guard it night and day. I have no wrath. Should someone give me briars and thorns in battle, Then I would step on them, I would burn them completely. Or let Him rely on MY protection, Let him make peace with me.” Isaiah 27
This Old Testament passage is given new life as I read John 15 and contemplate the similarities of the relationship between God and Israel’s relationship and that of Christ and the church. In the above passage we see God as the keeper, guardian and protector of the vineyard, in this case, Israel. In John 15 we see a similar story as God prunes, cleanses and protects the vine, His Church, that it might produce fruit so the “Father is glorified.”
One thing is for sure in both of these passages: God is the ultimate Gardner, and His tool of choice you might ask??? The pruner. He cuts away our sin and iniquities, our idols, our graven images, and slowly and surely our flesh. The word prune in John 15:2 means to purify, expiate and cleanse. You mean that pain that I felt as God cut away what was so near to me was a GOOD THING? That’s right, sometimes a little cut is whats best. Not only that, but Jesus says that we are to be made joyful by this process and not a little bit joyful, but that our “joy may be full” as we abide and are purified with Christ.
I love the garden and so I often become like the vine dresser, pruning plants and picking weeds. In the Florida summer the task of keeping a garden is nearly impossible when the weeds take over and nearly suffocate the plants. Sound familiar? Yeah, just like sin in our lives that suffocates our desire for the Lord and His Word, taking over the garden that was so fashioned by God. In one of my random gardening adventures this summer I came across a plant that was nearly dead. No foliage remained and only dried stem existed. The soil was dry and rotted, but still I had to try to revive it. Luckily, it was an impatient which makes for a great candidate of revival. I took the barely living plant into my room and began to nourish, water, prune and love it. Pruning a plant that had no foliage to begin with seemed a bit crazy. I even remember Jordan making comments about my killing what was already dead, nonetheless I pruned away, knowing that taking away what was dead would help bring new life. And this is what began to happen.
All over the stems little buds started to form on the plant and new life began. What a beautiful picture of what pruning does to a dead life. God took us dead in our trespasses and made us alive in Christ. The process of pruning is performed so that we might bear fruit for His glory, abiding and finding protection under the care of the Vinedresser who declares, ” I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in Him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do NOTHING.”