Have you ever messed up so bad you thought God was done with you? Maybe you kept making the same mistake over and over again and thought, “I’m just not bearing fruit, God is through with me and He may even send me to hell.” A lot of people think that because of a statement Jesus made in John 15:2:
2 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.
I used to read that and think, Jesus expects fruit from my life. He wants holy living, He wants me to lead many people to the Lord, He wants me to grow up, and on and on I could go. He’s going to prune areas in my life that I’m doing well in so I can bear more fruit, but if I get to a point I’m not bearing any fruit, He’s gonna take me away and cast me out. He’ll be through with me so I better produce!
I’ll admit I can be a little intense and I read the Bible literally (which is the only way it should be read), but based on that verse, how could you fault my logic? John 15:2 is a scary verse. As I began to get a hold of the grace message and learned that I’m redeemed from the curse of the law and I am saved by grace through faith and not my good works, I was provided a lot of relief, but this verse still created nagging questions. I didn’t like the verse and would often read over it as fast I could, but I also knew God put it in the Bible for a reason and they were the words of Jesus so I couldn’t ignore it.
Before I tell you what this verse means and how it is one of the most encouraging verses in all of scripture, I want to encourage you to run to God with your questions. If we want to grow, we have to go to God with the parts of scripture that seem to contradict His nature as loving father. The revelation in these tough passages is usually some of the best in the Bible and we’ll really help us walk in victory in this life.
So what does God mean by saying He takes away branches that do not bear fruit? The word take away is the Greek word aírō which means to lift up or elevate. Below are eight other verses where the word aírō is used for lift up or take up and not take away:
- Matt 16:24 – Let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
- Mark 16:18 – They will pick up serpents…
- Luke 5:24 – I say to you, arise, take up your bed, and go…
- Luke 17:13 – And they lifted up their voices and said…
- John 5:8 – Jesus said to him, “Rise, take up your bed and walk.”
- John 11:41 – And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said…
- Act 4:24 – And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord
- Rev 10:5 – The angel … lifted up his right hand to heaven
Jesus wants fruit from our lives. Like any good vinedresser, He will prune our lives. He’ll prune the areas that are fruitful with His word, so they can become even more fruitful and we can grow strong and healthy. But what does He do with the parts of our lives that aren’t fruitful? What does He do with Christians (those that are in Him) that are producing zero fruit? He lifts them up to expose them to sunlight. During the time Jesus lived, vinedressers would lift grape vines on trellises to provide support to the vine so they could be exposed to sun. When the vinedresser did this, the vine became fruitful and grapes and wine were produced in greater quantities.
It’s important we understand, the vinedresser did all the work. He supported the vine with the trellis and not the other way around. A vine can’t put itself on a trellis to lift itself up. It needs the help of the vinedresser. All the vine had to was be in relationship with the vinedresser. In John 15:2 Jesus is saying He is the vinedresser. He puts us on the trellis to expose us to the SON when we aren’t bearing fruit.
There are going to be times we go through tough seasons and we can’t hold ourselves up. This is where Jesus steps in and holds us. He doesn’t prune during those seasons. He gets us close to the light so we can be healed and begin to grow healthy again. He also does this in areas where we are struggling to bear fruit. He’s our support and He never leaves us or forsakes us! He’s with us to lift us up in our time of trouble.
I hope this article has encouraged you. Jesus loves you! I just want to encourage you that Jesus will never get rid of you because you aren’t bearing fruit. When you struggle, He’s going to lift you up, expose you to the sun (Himself) in a greater way. As you spend time in His light you will bloom and become fruitful! Go spend time with Him today so He can do what only He can do in your life! If you’d like to learn more about the grace of God, check out this message I recently taught at Grace Life Church.