Listen to this from a letter that Scottish minister, Alexander Whyte, wrote in 1903 to his son:
“My Dear Robert, — After breakfast and family worship this morning, we each took our own favourite book and separated for the forenoon. I selected for my retreat the great vineyard that covers the sunny slope above Grenoble, and which commands a fine view of the rich valley and the beautifully-situated city below, and the splendid chain of snow-white Alps beyond. I know and am quite sure that I am now in the very heart of an immense vineyard, but it does not look like it. The scene all around me is like anything but a vineyard, as we in Scotland imagine a vineyard to be. For the vines all around me are the most unpromising, and almost forbidding things possible. They are black, dry, twisted, knotted, gnarled; hacked at the root with the vinedresser’s axe, and hewn to pieces in all their branches with his pruning-knife. The truth is the vines all around me, both roots and branches, are more like brands plucked out of the burning than living things, or things with any hope of life in them. The apple-trees are covered with their snow-white blossoms. The cherry-trees and the plum-trees also are perfectly gorgeous with their gold and purple plumage. But it is only here and there that I can discover the smallest bud of green promise in all these miles on miles of vineyard. And yet though I have not been able to tell you the half of this hopeless looking scene, if you were to come to this beautiful land in autumn you would find this whole hillside simply groaning under its immense loads of gold and silver grapes.
‘Ye are the branches,’
Now, dear Robert, being a minister, and always thinking of my Bible, and of my pulpit at home, this scene this forenoon has called to mind the fifteenth chapter of John’s Gospel. ….Words would fail me to attempt to tell you the express and the immense comfort that came to me that Sabbath forenoon in that vineyard above Grenoble. As I staggered about among those hard, dry, hopeless-looking branches all, as it seemed to me, ready for the burning, and as these words of my Lord were then and there shed abroad in my ear, ‘Ye are the branches,’ – what a comfort came to me! For that moment, as I remember well, and will never forget, every hacked and hewn and hopeless brand around me suddenly took to itself a tongue and spake comfort to me. ‘Come back soon and see us,’ they all said. ‘Come back and eat abundantly of our golden grapes in their season.'” [The Walk, Character and Conversation of our Lord Jesus Christ, 324-330]
The outcome of the pruning is to show the premiere mark of discipleship: to bear fruit to God.