Let’s face it, in our lifetime, most of us will never grow grapes. We’ll eat them. We may drink them. But we won’t grow them. So immediately, our understanding of what Jesus is saying here is limited.
In my digging through this verse and the following scriptures, I took the time to learn a bit about vinedressing and even a bit about winemaking. When looking at what would normally be very dry, very boring information in a spiritual context, suddenly that very dry, very boring content comes to life.
Did you know that not every grape is right for every vineyard? Grape grower, Wes Hagen, said to choose the right grape to plant, not the variety you prefer. From a natural standpoint this makes sense. Just because you want to produce a certain wine, it doesn’t mean that the soil you have is right for that variety of grape. From a spiritual standpoint, Hagen’s comment is even more profound. The right vine in the right soil makes all the difference in the final product. In accordance to the gifts we’ve each been given, we are all best suited to thrive in different areas. Just because you may want to be or do something doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where you’re best suited. The best result comes when you allow the vinedresser—God—to choose where you will grow and produce the best.
Another interesting fact about vineyards is that very few are planted from seed. More often than not, the variety that’s growing on the trellises is not what’s rooted in the soil. This is because many of the best varieties of grapes for winemaking do not have the strongest root structure. So root vines are planted and the growing vines are grafted.
As New Testament believers, we are the vines that have been grafted on to the sprouting root stock. There is no way we can grow roots strong enough to grow a worthwhile fruit on our own. And, thankfully, we don’t even have to try. Our strength, our roots, come from what or, rather, whom we’ve been grafted to. All the nourishment we’ll ever need comes through that root system that Jesus has established and all the care we need comes from the Father, the vinedresser.
Further verses will address our need to stay in the vine lest we be unproductive and cut away. For now, though, take the time to think about the implications of the root and the vine working together and all that means not just for grapes, but for us as individual believers.
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