My Father, the Gardener
“I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.John 15:1
This is the last of the “I AM” statements in the book of John, and a bit unique to the rest of the statements. Jesus not only identifies Himself in the statement but He also identifies the Father, saying “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener”. While Jesus has mentioned the Father in some of his other “I AM” statements or their explanations He was mentioned in connection to Jesus and who He was. However, by introducing the Father as the gardener who prunes the branches – we now see not only what role He plays in the life and ministry of Christ – but also in the life and ministry of His followers.
Needless to say, God plays many roles in the lives of His people but oh the beauty of the gardener. Tending to our tender roots, watching over us and eager for us to grow healthy and strong. He prunes us so we will grow more fruit and He protects us from those branches that are bearing no fruit by taking them away. Because of the “Gardener”, I am able to stay attached to The True Vine, who keeps me from dying. I cannot survive apart from Him. He says when I remain in Him – a word He used often in this teaching – and He remains in me then I will bear much fruit. The fruit is dependent on a living thriving relationship where both parties are involved. He goes on to say that the Father or the gardener, as He is pictured here, is honored when we bear much fruit and show that we are His disciples.
As I read through this passage I’ve been reminded of my love of ferns and it hit me – I am their gardener. Not only are they a beautiful display of my favorite color but they are a soft and inviting foliage for any setting. I put ferns out from early spring to late fall every year. On the back porch they fill a variety of containers and can be seen from inside the home, enjoyed on the porch, or by the pool. On the front porch they hang from hooks, grace tables, line the steps and add beauty to old crocks. As their gardener they depend on me to water them, feed them, and on the front porch they especially need me to keep the birds from nesting in them, the beetles from eating them, and the sun from scorching them. Throughout the season I may have to cut away the occasional fronds that have turned brown or played host to a rogue beetle or two. It hurts me just a bit to do this but I know they will be better because of it. I love watching them grow and I delight in their personalities greatly affected by the amount of light and temperatures. I rotate them often giving them equal time to share in the sun and shade. I realize, as I type this, that they sound like a lot of care or work but they bring me joy and add beauty to our home. To borrow a line from Jesus about the Father, I am honored when they bear more and more beauty reflecting the love and care they have been given.
Symbolism and Application
The symbolism for me is this – Just like my ferns are a beautiful display of my favorite color, we are to be a beautiful display of Jesus, God’s only begotten Son. We are to be an attractive reminder of Him- the One of whom God said, “I am well pleased”. We are to surrender to the “gardener’s” pruning and remain in the vine, so that we can bear much fruit and show that we are His. In this way we honor the Father. Much like a home adorned with beautiful ferns, our lips should flow with the message of Christ and our lives are to be adorned with the fruit of His Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control should define the landscape of our lives – the chief of which is LOVE. For “they will know we are Christians by our love”.