Posted in theology

Have you been pruned?

By Elizabeth Prata


Let’s think about the vine and the vinedresser today.

EPrata photo

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. (John 15:1-2).

Barnes' Notes: When Jesus says he was the true vine, perhaps allusion is had to Jeremiah 2:21. The word "true," here, is used in the sense of real, genuine. He really and truly gives what is emblematically represented by a vine. The point of the comparison or the meaning of the figure is this: A vine yields proper juice and nourishment to all the branches, whether these are large or small. All the nourishment of each branch and tendril passes through the main stalk, or the vine, that springs from the earth. So Jesus is the source of all real strength and grace to his disciples. He is their leader and teacher, and imparts to them, as they need, grace and strength to bear the fruits of holiness.

Vinedresser is one of the many names for God. ‘Husbandman’ is also used, or even ‘gardener’. A vinedresser was much more than a gardener, though. His vines were generational, he cared for them for many years because they lived for many years. Grapes and the resulting wine was integral to their economy, cuisine, and life in general. Vines provided shade. In fact, we are each promised our own vine to sit under in the millennial kingdom,

Instead, each of them will sit under his vine And under his fig tree, With no one to make them afraid, Because the mouth of the LORD of armies has spoken. (Micah 4:4)

EPrata photo. Grapevine in Chiusi, Tuscany, Italy

The Holy Spirit inspired the writers to use a grapevine more often than fig tree, mustard bush, or other agricultural plant. Why? Why a vine? A grapevine is used to describe Israel as a people and sometimes a s a nation.

You removed a vine from Egypt;
You drove out the nations and planted it.
You cleared the ground before it,
And it took deep root and filled the land
. (Psalm 80:8-9)

Let me sing now for my beloved
A song of my beloved about His vineyard.
My beloved had a vineyard on [a]a fertile hill.
He dug it all around, cleared it of stones,
And planted it with the choicest vine.
And He built a tower in the middle of it,
And also carved out a wine vat in it;
Then He expected it to produce good grapes,
But it produced only worthless ones
. (Isaiah 5:1-2)

VINEYARD: A plot of land used for growing grapes (viticulture). Israel’s terrain was ideal for vineyards, which may account for their appearance throughout Scripture in narrative, poetic, and prophetic literature. Vineyard. In The Lexham Bible Dictionary.

A vine dresser had the care of the vines and he knew each one. He fertilizes it, twines it around stakes and branches, protects it against pests. Each vine has its own personality, yielding variations in taste, appearance, juice. Each vine was carefully watched, curated, nurtured, and … pruned. Despite Israel’s failure to yield itself a good crop, the Vinedresser continued to care for the vines, and grafted in new ones – us.

How does He prune? The Bible exposition commentary describes how.

The vinedresser. The vinedresser is in charge of caring for the vines, and Jesus said that this is the work of His Father. It is He who “purges” or prunes the branches so they will produce more fruit. Note the progression here: no fruit (John 15:2), fruit, more fruit, much fruit (John 15:5, 8). Many Christians pray that God will make them more fruitful, but they do not enjoy the pruning process that follows!

The vinedresser prunes the branches in two ways: he cuts away dead wood that can breed disease and insects, and he cuts away living tissue so that the life of the vine will not be so dissipated that the quality of the crop will be jeopardized. In fact, the vinedresser will even cut away whole bunches of grapes so that the rest of the crop will be of higher quality. God wants both quantity and quality.

This pruning process is the most important part of the whole enterprise, and the people who do it must be carefully trained or they can destroy an entire crop. Some vineyards invest two or three years in training the “pruners” so they know where to cut, how much to cut, and even at what angle to make the cut.

The greatest judgment God could bring to a believer would be to let him alone, let him have his own way. Because God loves us, He “prunes” us and encourages us to bear more fruit for His glory. If the branches could speak, they would confess that the pruning process hurts; but they would also rejoice that they will be able to produce more and better fruit. [SOURCE: Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 1, p. 356). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.]

We should be relieved that the Vinedresser in our case, the Holy One in Heaven, possesses the precision to prune perfectly 100% of the time.

Do we dare pray the prayer asking the Vinedresser to prune us? I am skittish, yet I know that I need to be pruned to better show the glory of the Vinedresser. I’ll pray for courage to pray asking for a pruning.

The purpose of the vine is to bear fruit. The gardener cuts off the branches which are barren or rotten. He gently cleans the other branches, to keep them free from disease. So it is with God, as he purifies, nourishes and corrects his people. [Knowles, A. (2001). The Bible guide].


Further Resources:

Job Description of a Vinedresser, By Stephanie Reid

Spurgeon: The Tender Grapes

Steve Lawson clip John 15:1-2. “The Vinedresser” Begin at 7:08. He explains what the Vinedresser does and is.


Christian writer and Georgia teacher's aide who loves Jesus, a quiet life, art, beauty, and children.