Today’s assignment was all about the Allegory of the vine. I really love studying allegories in the scriptures. They are like parables, but still a little different. A parable always stays a story. An allegory seems to slip back and forth between story and application. Or, an allegory is like a souped-up parable.
In this case, it feels woven – sometimes it is an analogy, and other times it is direct guidance.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.
These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” – John 15:1-11
So…a few things…
- We should strive to be branches that bring forth good fruit. We spent some time studying fruit already and know the blessing that fruit is. Now, we learn that if we bring forth good fruit then we will be purged. What does purging have to do with happiness? – It helps us to bring forth even more good fruit. I wonder, also, if purging helps to increase the quality of the fruit. In any case, purging, or pruning, helps us to be more fruitful -which means that, at some point, we’ll experience more happiness.
- Purging sounds like it hurts a lot. There are other words that are used in the scriptures to describe the same process: pruning, refining, purifying. None of them sound comfortable because they aren’t. But they will make us into better people. It is good to remember this. I love this quote from Elder Packer,
“We live in a day when the adversary stresses on every hand the philosophy of instant gratification. We seem to demand instant everything, including instant solutions to our problems. …
It was meant to be that life would be a challenge. To suffer some anxiety, some depression, some disappointment, even some failure is normal.
Teach our members that if they have a good, miserable day once in a while, or several in a row, to stand steady and face them. Things will straighten out.
There is great purose in our struggle in life.” – Boyd K. Packer
So, this process of purging is challenging. It may even result in a bit of pain and misery. The pain and misery may last several days or maybe even weeks. But this pain and misery will ultimately give way to the production of good fruit – which is happiness.
- The only way that we can bear good fruit is by abiding in Christ. As I think about this, I think of the relationship between good works and faith. Many people seem to think that good works are unnecessary. However, I feel like we learn from this verse that good works come out of faith. If we have faith in Christ, we are abiding in Him, then we are producing good fruit. And if we aren’t, then we’ll be cut off and burned.
- It’s not enough to not bear bad fruit. We need to bear good fruit. If we are bearing no fruit, then we will be taken from the branch and burned just as quickly as a branch producing bad fruit. The non-producing branch weighs too heavily on the rest of the plant for it to survive. We need to be potent and prolific – in bringing forth good fruit if we don’t want to be gathered and destroyed. Here, Christ teaches that good works are necessary if we want to abide in Christ and inherit His joy.
- Abiding in Christ = continuing in the Love of Christ. He will offer us life. He will nurture us. He will stabilize us. He will do all for us that a vine, the true vine, does for the rest of the plant. We can depend on Him, and as we do, then we are able to bear good fruit. I am amazed at how simple the gospel can be. It’s not that it is easy (purging is hard!), but it isn’t complicated. We have faith in Christ, and He nourishes us so that we can bring forth good fruit – or do good works.
- We glorify God with our good fruit. I love the fact that God is glorified by our good works. When we love and serve others, we glorify God. When we are happy, we glorify God. I love that he glories in our good works! He is such a selfless God. He loves to see us do our best.
I feel like I can relate to this. I have four children. They each bring me so much joy. And when they do something good – when they excel in life, my joy is so overwhelming, I feel like my heart will explode. When the holidays come, I have more fun than they do – I love seeing them happy, I love seeing them excited. I think that Heavenly Father probably feels the same way as we do. He doesn’t want us to bring forth good fruit because he is some kind of greedy god. He wants us to bring forth good fruit because it will make us happy, and when we’re happy, he’s even happier. We have such a loving God.
- Christ was the pattern for us to follow. He kept the commandments and was able to abide in the Love of the father. When we keep the commandments, then we’re able to abide in the love of Christ. I can’t imagine a better place to abide.
- Christ teaches us this allegory so that his joy might remain in us, and our joy might be full. That’s the whole gospel – to have joy. To be happy. The allegory of the vine teaches us that we receive this joy only when we abide in Christ, as a branch can remain alive only when it abides in the true vine.
Don’t you love allegories and other elements of the scriptures? They make everything so much easier to understand!
For tomorrow’s assignment, click here.