Jesus used the vine to illustrate His relationship with His followers (Jn.15: 1-17). He is the true vine, His followers are the branches and God, the Father, is the gardener. The reason for this three-fold relationship is to produce fruit. Now, the vine and the branches can live without bearing fruit. But, since we measure productivity, we cut down fruitless vine and burn it. In order to become fruitful, we trim the useless branches so that the healthy ones can produce. To my dismay, I am not very good in trimming correctly. I did cut productive branches instead of the unproductive ones.
What was Jesus trying to tell His followers and how does it apply to us? First and foremost, we did not choose Christ, He chose us for the sole purpose of being productive. And we do not do the pruning the Father does by His rules. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Eph.2: 10, NIV). The second important fact is that, without which the first cannot function, is “remain in me.” Christ does the choosing but we must do the remaining in Christ. God has provided a way, but we must stay on it, not just by faith but by deeds that glorify God (Eph.1: 3-14).
Third and lastly, how can we possibly do things that please God? We are not asked to do what we are unable but to do what Christ commands us to do. Our yokes are hard and our burdens are heavy, while Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light (Mt.11: 30). The reason is that Jesus wants us to love, like He did. It is the kind of love that does for others what they cannot do for themselves. It is like dying for a friend so that the friend does not have to die for himself. It is the idea where a friend is closer than a brother (Pr.18: 24). It is by bearing each other’s burden that we comply with the law of Christ (Gal.6: 2). This sacrificial-servant love is the true nature of Christ’s disciples and the fruit that glorifies God the Father.