The Bible is filled with references to grapes, farming of grapes, and the process of making wine. In fact the grapevine is mentioned more than any other plant in the entire Bible.
When we read John 15, unless we understand the process that the grapes go through, it’s very hard for us to get the visual image that Jesus is talking about.
As the the grapes grow, they have to go through the normal process any fruit has to go through- getting the right temperature, receiving the right fertilization in the soil, and soaking in the right amount of moisture.
They are constantly pruned by gardeners so that only the best grapes survive. Any branch that does not bear fruit, has to be cut off in order for the other grapes to survive. (See John 15:2)
They have to be constantly attached to the vine. A grape that falls to the ground will have no connection to nutrients- and will soon wither and die. It must remain connected to the branch in order to receive everything it needs on a daily basis. (See John 15:4)
Any variable difference in the soil, the humidity or the temperature could change the taste and the bitterness of the juice.
Then after months of them sitting on the vine, they are plucked out of their familiarity, and pressed, but not crushed, several times to get the Juice flowing. (See 2 Corithians 4:8)
Then the juice would flow into vats, that were sealed, and then put into a dark cool place for them to start the fermentation process.
Modern cheaper wines are only in the fermentation process for a few weeks, but more expensive wines stay hidden in their vats or bottles for years and years.
Modern wines have a worker that goes through and checks on the vats constantly to see if they’re being rotated and their humidity is being constant. Any sediment that settles to the bottom of the glass would be filtered or cut off, out so that only the pure Wine is left.
There are stories about bottles waiting around during the fermentation process and exploding because of the pressure. They weren’t willing to go through the process and could no longer take the pressure.
A modern fine wine waits underground for 15-20 years before it sees the light of day.
In our microwave and instant cart world, it’s hard for us to imagine something taking 15 to 20 years to see its full potential. But this is the process that Christians have to go through in their spiritual journey.
The Christian life is a marathon and not a sprint. There are seasons of learning and growing, and seasons of waiting. There are seasons of “being pressed but not crushed, persecuted but not abandoned” (see 2nd Corinthians 4:8)
There are seasons where we feel like the pressure of life might be more than we can take. Romans 8:18 talks about our current sufferings do not compare to the future glory that will be revealed in us.
So if you feel like you’re going through a hard process, rejoice and be glad because you’re being refined and pruned to be used by God in amazing ways!