He then goes into further detail in the chapter. I have often wondered about grapevines, pruning, and vine dressing. How does that all work and how does it paint a picture of our relationship with G-d?
I did a little research and came up with the following notes that I pray will bless you as much as it blessed me.
Let's begin with some definitions:
- Trunk is the chief stem of the vine.
- Arms (cordons) are the parts of the vine which are two or more years old, excluding the trunk.
- Canes are one-year-old shoots. Shoots grow from these and bear fruit. The following year they are called canes.
- Head is the area on the trunk from which arms and canes are produced.
- A spur is a cane which has been cut back to one or two buds.
Like most plants grapevines are seasonal, blooming and flowering in the spring, bearing fruit during the summer, maturing the fruit in the fall, and then going dormant during the winter. In the fall, grapevines do three things:
- Mature the fruit
- Mature the branches for survival during the winter
- Store food for flowering and growth in the spring
These picture similar activities in believers' lives, also.
- During the life of a believer our fruit should become more mature as we age.
- We should build up our families/congregations (branches) so they can carry on after us.
- We should "store up treasures in heaven" (Matt 6:20) for when we are raised from the dead upon Messiah's return.
I have paraphrased some information from Michigan State University here:
The leaves and greenery that grow during the current season come from a bud located at a node (see diagram above). The greenery continues as a shoot, and in the autumn, shoots mature, become woody, lose their leaves and are termed canes. Nodes on these canes contain the developing flowers from which next season's crop will develop. Wood that has grown for two years or longer is not fruitful. This wood can be distinguished from fruitful (one-year-old) canes by the presence of loose, shedding bark. One-year-old canes do not display this bark. Grapes are produced as berries on a cluster stem, and clusters are born near the base of shoots during the current season.
Did you catch that? Wood that has grown for two years or longer is not fruitful.
Messiah taught his disciples for 2 years before sending them out to "the lost sheep of Israel" during the third year to bear fruit among them (Matthew 9:35-11:1).
This is not to say that we should only grow and mature for 2 years in our faith but that we should not spend all of our time growing as woody stems and failing to bear fruit.
More information from MSU:
An average grapevine will have 200 to 300 buds on mature canes capable of producing fruit. If the vine were allowed to produce shoots and fruit from each of these, the result would be a large crop that would not ripen. The vine's effort to mature the crop would reduce cane maturity, reduce the productivity of buds the following season and decrease the size of the root system.
While all the buds are capable of producing fruit not all of them can be allowed to produce fruit or the entire crop will be unripe. As such the vine dresser must select the appropriate canes (branches) that will bear fruit in the following year and prune off the rest.
Yeshua makes the following statement:
As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
If a cane (branch) were to be severed from the cordon (vine) it cannot bear fruit. It must receive sustenance from the vine. This seems elementary, however, believers at various stages in their walk with G-d may try to be fruitful on their own rather than drawing upon Him who is the source of their sustenance.