In this passage Jesus is the vine…the true vine…the source of growth and fruit-bearing – in a vineyard tended by the Father. God, the Father, is the one who tends the vineyard and ensures its quality. But…while the vine is the source for good fruit…there is an important link between the vine and its fruit. The branches are the focus of this passage…those who follow Jesus. You are the branches – the “you” is plural and identifies the church as the branches. Those who follow Jesus are not the fruit or the end product…those who follow Jesus are the conduit for the vine’s nourishment. The quality of the fruit depends on the branches’ ability to remain connected to the vine…the important relationship between Jesus and his followers. When we are connected to each other through our faith in Jesus Christ, it means that we are strong and can get things done. Our faith gets nourishment and strength from both Christ and our fellow believers. As our faith strengthens, it bears fruit in the form of bringing benefit to ourselves and to the lives of others while doing God’s work in the world.
Ask yourself how well you are doing in your relationship with Christ…how goes the pruning necessary for growth. But, equally important as this passage brings forward, ask yourself how you are growing in the overall strength of the vine…how are you growing with others to ensure the connectedness of the branches to the vine. Imagine the wonderful fruit possible of the connected branches…the church in our community and in our world.