Photo and Commentary ©2019 by Maylan Schurch
Sabbath, January 12, 2019

Thursday morning of this week Shelley and I took a brief walk before she had to leave for work. Against the sky we saw the silhouette of three large trees, plus some smaller ones on either side.

I grew up on the Great Planes prairies, where every winter we would see the bare-bones of cottonwoods and other trees like this. We had no vineyards there, so Jesus’ “I am the vine, you are the branches” comments are a step or two removed from what I can relate to. But when I see the pattern of these branches – growing out from the main trunk, then splitting off and continuing to grow, then splitting off till further – I get His point immediately. The vivid green leaves I see in the summer happened because the branches are connected to the trunk.

And the main purpose of any tree, of course, is to grow. A fake Christmas tree does not grow. But a towering cottonwood gets that way because its dependable water source courses up the trunk and out through those connections.

And this makes it easier for me to understand Jesus’ grapevine parable. Here it is, in full:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 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. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. John 15:1 – 8 NKJV