I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that dose bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.-John 15:1-8
Jesus in this passage is this great illustration of the vineyard to describe how our relationship with him and God works. If you know anything about growing grapes, then you know that it is a long and tedious process that involves a lot of work on the part of the vintner. You probably, also, know that all of the off shoot branches have to be attached to the main vine in order for them to survive. So if Jesus is the vine and God is the vintner, then what are we? We are the branches, and we must be attached to the main vine in order to survive. So when we choose to not be attached to the main vine, the vintner has one of two choices on how he can deal with that wayward branch. He can either cut that wayward branch off and throw it way or he can graft that branch back into the main vine. Now in grape growing the decision is always up to the vintner, but in our relationship with God the choice is always up to us. God is always willing to graft us back into the main vine, but it is up to us whether or not that happens.
Now that we understand the illustration that Jesus is using let’s look at the last two verses of this passage. Starting in verse 7 Jesus says: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” Is Jesus saying here that God is like a genie in lamp, that is going to grant you whatever you wish whenever you wish it? No, that is absolutely not what Jesus is saying here. What Jesus is saying is that through our relationship with him we have direct access to God and that we should use that we should put that direct access to good use. Remember, this Jesus is the vine, God is the vintner and we are the branches, and that is only through being attached to the main vine that we are able to do what we have been called to do.