- California produces 98% of the grapes of U.S.
- There are more than 8,000 varieties of grapes
- Best selling grape – Thompson seedless
- Grapes are made up of 80% water
- 68 million tons of grapes are produced every year
So why am I talking about grapes?
Wine is mentioned 521 times and because grapes are mentioned 74 times in scripture – more than any other plant.
Beginning in Genesis
Noah was the first person to grow grapes (Genesis 9:20). In a temporary lapse of his otherwise highly righteous character, he is also the first person to become drunk (some believe that it was not intentional, but that he had simply misjudged the alcohol content), from the wine that he made from his vineyard (Genesis 9:21). Two of his three sons helped him out of an embarrassing situation. I will let you read that verse later on your own.
All the way through to the New Testament
John 15:1-2 NIV
Jesus used the grape vine in His teachings:
1″I am true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
Let’s find out more about that grapevine Jesus is describing. Did you know that if a grape vine is left alone it would grow about 50ft by itself. It’s natural tendency is create new leaves and branches, not more grapes. Now don’t get me wrong, it would look very healthy on the surface with lots of green leaves and large thick branches but underneath all that, there would hardly be any fruit if any at all.
Show and taste small grapes.
That is the reason the vinedresser prunes for the upcoming year, they prune all the way back to what they call a spur so that it only has two branches coming out of it. It is usually over 90% of the growth from the previous year. They have found that in doing so, it is the most productive way that vines grow. The clusters have better quality and are larger in size.
Show and taste large grapes. So you see a more mature pruned vine offers the grapes a much better source of water and nutrients to thrive on.
So how do these first two verses relate to you and I. Verse one is pretty self explanatory-Jesus is the one we are grafted into and god is the one who has the job of pruning. There are two different thoughts and about the beginning of verse 2- and its all about the interpretation of the original Greek word used here. One means to take up, the other means removing. Either way I am sure none of want to be in that stage of our walk. So let’s look at the second part of that verse. Why ten, if we bear fruit, do we need to be pruned? Let me ask you a question. Has anyone in this room got preoccupied with life. Working non-stop to pay for all those things we “Need”. Or maybe having so much fun that god and Church have become an after thought. Have any you ever gotten your priorities mixed up? Are we spending too much time asking God for “Things” in life and not asking to be more like Jesus? Are the branches in your life spread our so fast and furious that you are no longer producing any good fruit? If your answer is yes, then we can expect the shears to come out. If we become more interested in doing what we want to do rather than what God wants us to be or to do, that expect the shears to come out.
Let’s read an example of pruning. God taking things away so we can better serve him.
Mark 6:4-13 NIV
4 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” 5 He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. 6 He was amazed at their lack of faith.Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village. 7 Calling the Twelve to him, he began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.
8 These were his instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff—no bread (but Jesus what will I eat), no bag (Jesus, what about my things? iPod,Cell Phone), no money in your belts (but Lord, what if I see something I have to get) 9 Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. 10 Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. 11 And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.” 12 They went out and preached that people should repent. 13 They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
Remember that pruning happens every season. To get drafted into the vine takes time as well. Let’s take a look at Jesus’ public ministry. Starting from Luke 3:23 where it states that he is 30 years old until he ascension in Acts 1:3. the total time during his earthly ministry was about 3 years.
Do you know how long it takes a vine to be rooted in the ground deep enough not to be blown over? How long before a vine is strong enough to carry enough water and nutrient to its branches, how long to grow a good solid vine, it takes 3 years. One of Jesus’ main goals was to hav the 12 disciples sustain the basis of his mission. It took him 3 years of getting a good solid foundation before his disciples paired up and the vinedresser with two small branches. Both with the mission to reproduce.
John 15:3-11 NIV
3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit;apart from me you can do nothing. 6 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. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
So Jesus is the vine and we are the branches. Apart from him we can’t bear fruit. Apart from Him we will wither up. Apart from Him we can’t ask for anything. Apart from Him we can’t do anything. Apart from Him there is no joy. What can you and I accomplish with being grafted in Jesus? So you and I must stay attached to Him. His is the one rooted deep in the ground. His the one that brings us life. We need Him to be productive and to bear fruit.