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Meditation 25*

You Are the Branches11   Translator’s note: I fail to understand the reason this meditation is included here, since it does not refer to the Holy Spirit even once, either directly or indirectly. For fuller understanding of this meditation, you are advised to read John 15:1-8.

I am the vine; you are the branches.
If you remain in Me and I in you,
you will bear much fruit;
apart from Me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

A branch of a grapevine is nothing but a channel or a tube though which the root pumps the sap of the vine up to the trusses of grapes. Without the vine itself, the branch is nothing, insignificant and has nothing to offer, for the life is in the vine, while the fruit ripens in the grape trusses. The branch is between trunk and truss; its function is to suck up the sap, pump it up and let it through; also to carry the trusses till the grapes are ripe to be harvested. The significant parts are the vine plant itself and the grape trusses, but the branches are incidental.

Even as wood, branches of a grapevine have no value, for there is no wood that has less purpose or use. The grapevine has value and people offer money for grapes, but no one offers anything for just the branches. A branch, Jesus Himself said, has no use of its own beyond that of an ordinary weed that gets thrown away or burnt in the fire and the flames destroy it. The Lord thus deeply humiliated His people when He told them, “You are the branches,” branches, the most useless and disposable item that a grower can imagine.

You proud people with all your pretentions, you pious with all your imaginations, you chosen members with all your holy sham, even if you claim Peter as your apostle or, like John, consider yourself “the beloved of the Lord,” you are mere branches! That is your title of honour. Therein lies all your hollowness and emptiness.

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All this, yes, except, and now the page turns completely, except you are properly and organically connected to the vine with real living fiber that does not only show leaf but also carries hefty trusses of swollen grapes. There is a difference of day and night between a branch that is cut off and one that is still in place. The branch that is cut off is not even worth throwing away; you do the winery operator a service if you take it away, but those functioning branches still connected, don’t touch them. Those connecting branches are worth their weight in gold. The owner cares for them, supports them, ties them, prunes them and turns them towards the sun. Those branches will produce grapes.

When the owner notices a branch that is functioning properly and underneath its leaf notices budding trusses of grapes, then that otherwise useless branch has more value to him than the best of wood. He will almost defend this branch with his life should someone tear that branch or otherwise ruin it.

So spiritually the page turns as well. You, the people of the Lord, who are nothing but branches, once you are grafted into Immanuel and show budding grapes, then you who are otherwise less than useless, suddenly become indispensable to the vine. Without the branches, the vine cannot display its glory; without branches, our Father, our heavenly Husbandman, has no fruit to pluck from the Vine.

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Oh, would that the Lord’s people would set their entire hearts on being grafted into Immanuel and quit playing around, but, instead, stand next to Immanuel or kneel before Him or look up to Him with pleading eyes. All your external worldly involvement counts for nothing here. Even if you lay the branch on the vine and string it with rushes around the vine, it will still wither and the grower will rip it off and dump it.

Each child of God must be grafted, grown, annexed and plaited with its own fiber into this marvelous Vine. She has to be truly one plant with Him. By itself empty and hollow, offering only to serve as a passageway for the sap of life, but so grafted into and attached to the Vine that it does not exist on its own for even a moment, but lives from and grows as part of the Vine.

Even more, it is not enough that you are grafted into your Mediator by means of invisible fiber, but, being grafted in Him, you must also want to be nothing but His organ. It is not as if you as a branch produce the sap and then add it to the vine. Totally sapless and empty yourself, you must derive all your power and strength, all praise and love, all tenderness and devotion only from Him, your Jesus. Everything that goes on within you must first have happened in your Jesus before it arises in your heart. It must all be gained, imbibed and, as it were, sucked up through Him. The only function of the branch is to be a channel of the works of grace, of light, love and life.

You must allow the sap to pass on to the ends of the trusses to make them bud. You may not keep that life sap for yourself in order to cause you as empty branch to swell and increase till you reach the size of the branches of other trees. The branch uses very little of that sap for its own functioning; It pumps it all upward to the trusses. She knows that soon the heavenly Husbandman will come to seek the fruits of His Son. That’s why it is the honour of the branch to offer the richly swollen grape trusses not as products of the branch, but as the fruit of the Vine, that is, as the fruit of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross to the Father, who is in Heaven.

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This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8). Pay attention: You carry the fruit but do not produce it. You carry it as a chandelier carries the light, but the fruit does not originate with you anymore than the light with the chandelier. You carry it for Christ. What you carry are His fruits, the products of His work, of His suffering, of the labour of His soul. You yourself have not participated in the least in the production of the fruit.

Yes, it is true that the grapes ripen and mature on your branch, something that is an inexpressible honour for you and for which you will never be able to praise and thank your Saviour sufficiently. But still, yours it is to carry, not for yourself but for Him who will soon harvest them. They hang on you, but they are for the Father and come from the Son. All your work is to accept them from the Son and, in the name of the Son, hand them over to the Father.

You even may and must make the leaf also grow and mature, but that leaf may also not lead you to ostentatiously parade around in your green outfit, except to cover the trusses of grapes and to foster their ripening. It is the Father, not you, who must be gloried in both leaf and fruit. All the glory must be attributed to the Father; yes, through you but out of the Son.

So it goes with anyone wanting to be a branch. A branch is the least and most unworthy on its own, but the most lovely when she pumps up the sap and thus carries the treasured fruit.

And now, you people are the branches! How does your soul participate? Are your branches attached to the Vine or do you simply lay next to the Vine?


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