Needing to be shorn
If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them gets lost, what will he do? Won’t he leave the ninety-nine others in the wilderness and go to search for the one that is lost until he finds it? – Luke 15:4
1 I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.
2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.
4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
In February 2021, a lost, runaway sheep was found after some 5 years in the Australian brush. Amazingly it had 77 pounds of fleece growing on it. It was given the name Baarack by its rescuers. It struggled to stand up and walk under the filthy fleece caked with years of mud and tangled debris.
Apparently, the rogue sheep once belonged to someone because it had a tear in its ear where an ear tag would have been. Although it had been running wild, it was a domesticated sheep. The wild mouflon of Europe and Asia, the ancestor of modern sheep, was a coarse-haired animal with a downy undercoat. This covering responded to the seasons, growing dense and providing protection in the cooler months, and then shed it (independently) in the warmer months.
Sheep today are the result of selective breeding. The goal was to produce wool that could be harvested. As a result, the lives of their modern descendants were significantly altered. Modern sheep are dependent on people and require at least yearly shearing for their well-being to keep their coats trim.
The Scriptures present many analogies to represent the relationship between the Father and children of the King: Father/child, husband/wife, groom/wife-to-be, vine/branches, vinedresser/branches, shepherd/sheep, etc.
We are the sheep of His pasture and He cares for us. We desperately need His care and concern. We are the branches; He is the vinedresser, the gardener. We require regular pruning and management
REFLECT & PRAY
The only things of eternal value on planet Earth, are those things that will last into eternity. There are only two things on planet Earth that are eternal: human souls and the Word of God.
Father I want to be shorn, I want to be pruned, I want to remain in the Lord Jesus Christ so that I may produce eternal fruit.
Knowing the Father, walking with Him, and growing to maturity, is all about relationships. Each child of the King is designed to be in a symbiotic relationship with the Father. We are not designed to be independent or separate from Him. We are not wild sheep. We are domesticated sheep in need of a shepherd. Baarack is an example of what would happen if we were to run off and remove ourselves from His tender loving care. Even though we are part of the Father’s flock, each child of the King retains their sheep temperament even after they believe. This can have extremely undesirable consequences.
Isaiah 53:6 All of us had wandered off like sheep; each of us had strayed off on his own path,
We are not wild grapes. We are domesticated grapes in need of a vinedresser to maximize productivity. Cultivated grapevines are intended to grow as much fruit as possible to optimize wine production. The Father as the divine Vinedresser does two things to ensure maximum fruit production: He removes unfruitful branches, and He prunes all the others (ESV notes).
John 15:2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
What are children of the King intended to glean from the scriptural analogies regarding our relationship with Him?
Regarding the vine and the branches, a bit of background information is helpful. The normal growth of a grapevine, if left untrimmed, is to spread out by growing long woody branches. The life force of the vine is directed towards growing branches, not growing grapes. The result is a few sparse bunches of grapes. Early on, winemakers recognized severe pruning of the branches would alter its natural propensity. Cutting back the branches produced far fewer buds. It forced the vine to devote its life-giving sap into the production of grapes rather than branch growth. The result was heavy grape clusters and abundant grape juice for wine production.
Major pruning was done in midwinter, leaving a bare field with small stumps at the beginning of the spring growing season. The farmer hauled off the cut off branches and burned them so that his vines could grow unhindered from the mature stump each year (Bryant and Krause).
The analogy of the vine and the branches would have been immediately understood by the listeners. This was no lesson in farming. Rather was all about a successful and vital relationship with the Father and producing abundant spiritual fruit.
Sheep need to be shorn; vine branches need to be pruned.
When we run off from the loving care and concern of the shepherd and refuse to be shorn, we run the risk of becoming like Baarack. As branches, we have two choices. We can remain in the vine and bear lovely fruit, or we can be useless.
How do we become useless? When we refuse to listen and accept, we wither. When our acceptance of the Lord Jesus Christ and desire to follow Him is nominal or purely superficial, words without deeds, we produce leaves without fruit. When we refuse to follow through and simply abandon our faith, we are most useless.
When we are useless, the Lord Jesus Christ categorically states, “For apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Nothing? He does not mean “nothing at all,” for children of the King can of course carry on the ordinary activities of life apart without remaining in the Lord Jesus Christ. “Rather, it means ‘nothing of eternal value,’ or an inability to produce spiritual fruit” (ESV notes).
“Uselessness invites disaster” (Barclay).