Could it be? Did Jesus just say that? Did he just admit what I think he just admitted? He started out by saying that the Father is the vine grower. Fair enough. God has the will and the means to grow something that produces. Great! The Almighty Vintner even prunes and trims the branches, getting rid of dried up dead ends and causing new growth.
I always imagine that means there are parts of us that need to get removed, or opened up, or let go of so that renewal can happen. It probably means facing something painful in us, even though we would rather let the dead weight just hand there. If plants could feel pain, they would probably say “Ouch!” or “God dammit that hurts!” every time they get pruned. But then, when they bloom in showy, proud clusters of flowers, they would get it. They would understand that pain and fruitfulness come together.
Jesus calls himself the vine, and his disciples are the branches. And then he says it: The branches produce the fruit. Not the vine, the branches! Wow. Jesus just admitted that if there is going to be fruit for the kingdom’s wine, it is going to be from his followers, his students, his initiates who are still finding their way into the mystery of what it’s all about.
Could it be? Could it be that Jesus, that God, even, while being the source of all viney things and the energy for all grape growth, is depending on the branches for the fruit? What does that say about us and our place in God’s scheme of getting the world drunk on the wine of divine love?
The fruit of the vine is the branches. The fruit of the branches is the grapes. And nobody makes wine out of branches, only out of grapes. Got anything keeping you from producing more fruit? Tend to it. Let it go. God needs you to embrace the painful process of growing, maturing, and becoming what you are meant to be.
We are nothing apart from God. As followers of Jesus, we are nothing apart from him, for he is the source of vine-life for the branches. But don’t miss what Jesus said: There is no fruit without the whole thing: God, Jesus, Spirit, us, all intertwined into one loving, living, pruning, and growing produce of the earth.
Let the grape stomping begin soon. Let the fermentation of all that we do for love lead to the intoxication of the whole world on Holy Love.