"I am the vine, you are the branches," Jesus said (John 15:5 John 15:5I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.
American King James Version×). He also said, "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit" (verse 2).
The pruning season is just coming to an end as I write this from my home on the Costa del Sol in Spain . This is my first brush with having a vineyard, and though it is small, with the weeds, the lack of rain and my lack of knowledge, it's very hard work! (Perhaps we present the same challenge to God...)
All the branches are now cut back and the old wood burned. No fruit can be borne without this annual pruning. It must be done in just the right way or else there will still be no fruit. And if not pruned at all, the vine goes out of control and will eventually die. It won't die immediately, but will produce unwieldy branches and run to only wood.
All year long false growth comes from the base of the vine. These are short, stubby branches that grow only to about 18 inches high. These must be cut out all year round as they appear, or they will in time take over and ruin the main stock. Some of this growth may even produce false grapes, but they come to nothing in the end. These, too, must be removed promptly.
On the true vine, it can look as if there isn't much fruit as well. It is often hidden under the large leaves. Grapes can stay on the vine ripening quite a while. The longer they are in the hot sun and dry soil, the sweeter they become!
The soil is like concrete, desertlike, hard and dry, but the roots of the vines go way down, often into clefts in the slatelike hillside, where moisture collects.
All these features have spiritual parallels. Our Father prunes us perfectly, which is painful and not easily understood. The world is the dry, unyielding soil we are locked into. We are the branches, connected to Jesus Christ, hopefully, and through Him producing the fruit He needs us to produce for His future Kingdom. Each year the vine must be pruned hard.