Please join me in welcoming back Dave Gossett, friend and ETL Guest Writer!

* * *

Christ said:

I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser … I am the vine, you are the branches. (John 15:1,5)

Jesus, knowing He has only a few hours before His crucifixion, is giving specific insights to His disciples. The teacher extraordinaire paints a word picture, a brilliant allegory, to illustrate three interpersonal relationships:

He and the Father;

He and His followers; and

His followers and the Father.

The John 15:1-7 passage is so full of rich truths, especially about the vine and the branches, that readers may tend to skim over the “Father is the vinedresser” statement when, in fact, the Father could well be considered the main character.

‘Vinedresser’ is a descriptive word for someone who cares for a vineyard, but other crops as well. It is also translated husbandman, a tiller of the soil; one who plants and cultivates (as our word farmer denotes).

God was the very first farmer and “He planted a garden” (see Genesis 2:8). He knows something about vineyards, orchards, and plants of all kinds. He is not a vinedresser for hire, but an actively engaged owner who puts His hands to the task of producing fruit.

The description of the Father as a vinedresser is especially dear to me, as a retired farmer with a career of cultivating crops. There is much stated and implied in our passage about how this vinedresser cares for Jesus, the vine, and His disciples, the branches. Yet the whole enterprise (and a major point of the passage) is about harvesting fruit.

Why else would He do it?

Let’s see how a successful harvest is dependent on pruning, provision, and protection and what the Father, the hands-on vinedresser, does.

* * *

The Father Prunes (Literally Cleanses) The Vines

Every branch that bears fruit, He prunes so that it may bear more fruit (John 15:2). God is removing the tentacles. If these are not removed, too much of the plant energy will go to producing wood in the following season, leaving little energy for fruit production. Left unattended, the vines become so overgrown with branches in subsequent years that there is no meaningful fruit production.

The vineyards in our region are pruned during the winter and spring, when branches appear shaggy with tentacles until they are removed by the pruners. The process appears to be severe, leaving only the main branches. If we were to ask a child observing the pruning of a vineyard, “What are they doing?” he would probably say “They are cleaning the branches.”

How does He, the heavenly Father do this? Sometimes, the tentacles we have as disciples are distractions, sometimes idols, or security blankets which sap our energy. He removes them so that His children will be more spiritually fruitful. Perhaps He sends a pandemic. Perhaps persecution. These all can have a cleansing effect, resulting in increased fruit. Sometimes, it is the Father’s discipline which yields the fruit of righteousness; the sanctification without which people will not see the Lord (see Hebrews 12:10-14).

The Father Provides For The Vines

The gardener provides whatever is needed, whenever needed, for the plants. They are his “babies” and in no way is he going to neglect them. I would, at times, have to go out in the field in the middle of the night to tend to my crops because they needed irrigation water 24/7. And while out in my field, I would often see headlights from vehicles of vineyardists, orchardists and farmers also out tending to the needs of their precious crops. Why? Because the following day would not be soon enough to begin supplying the water, frost protection, or pest protection the plants needed.

Our heavenly vinedresser gives the branches whatever is needed, and He is the one who gives believers the Holy Spirit, another Helper (John 14:16,26). Why does He provide this Helper? He desires a harvest of fruit—the fruit of the Spirit. This is the likeness of Jesus, the fruit of righteousness produced in those disciples who abide in the vine (John 15:4-5; Gal. 5:22-23).

What’s more, the gardener receives all well-deserved credit for the fruit. Many home gardeners display their prize tomatoes at the county fair, but this vinedresser is given the glory as Jesus’ disciples bear much fruit (John 15:8).

The Father Protects The Vines

The husbandman is totally invested and does everything he can to avoid losing any produce. In ancient times, for example, the vineyardist built fences to keep out foxes which damaged the grapes, just as the modern day home gardener builds fences to keep out rabbits, deer, and other produce-damaging pests.

The Father protects His children from the evil one (see John 17:15). As we know, the whole world lies in the power of the evil one (I John 5:19) and the devil roams around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour (I Peter 5:8). The Father’s protection is vital because His children are helpless against a prowling, hungry lion.

* * *

Branches are not merely appendages of the vine. They are embedded in the whole vine which is made up of roots, leaves, branches, and fruit. Therefore, as this vindedresser (the Father) is never going to neglect this vine (Jesus), He isn’t going to neglect the branches (followers of Jesus).

As we understand these three, interpersonal relationships, praying to the Father takes on an even deeper meaning for us.

Our [Jesus’ and followers’] Father who is in heaven … Your will be done [fruit production] … give us this day our daily bread [provision] … deliver us from evil [protection] … Yours is … the glory forever.

(See Matthew 6:9-13)

* * *

Praise be to the Father, the great vinedresser!



People Lover. Author. Blogger. Speaker. Forgiven Much & Wild About God. Learn about June's latest book on her website.


Leave a Reply