Title: Bearing Spiritual Fruit (2)
Scripture: John 15:1-17 NKJV
A branch doesn’t bear fruit by trying, working, or straining.
It bears fruit simply by “abiding”.
What does that mean? How do you abide in Jesus?
Let’s illustrate it this way: When you put a tea bag in a cup of hot water, something happens.
As the tea bag abides in the water, the tea begins to flavor the water until it takes on the taste of the tea bag.
That’s what happens when you abide in Christ and He abides in you.
The longer you abide in Him and the deeper you go with Him, the more His presence will being to permeate your life.
The branch doesn’t produce the fruit; it bears the fruit.
It’s the vine that produces the fruit.
And Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit, for without Me you can do nothing” (v. 5 NKJV).
Without the vine, the strongest branch is as defenseless as the weakest branch.
So, what does it mean to abide in Christ?
- Studying His Word.
“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you” (V.7 NKJV).
As you study God’s Word, you are changed by His Spirit.
- Obeying His will.
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love” (V. 10 NKJV).
The closer you get to God, the more you’ll want to do what He says. And when you do what He says, you’ll begin to walk in His blessings.
Let’s see what else we can learn about abiding in Christ as we study more in His Word today.
15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
Reflection: (John 15:1)
The grapevine is a prolific plant; a single vine supports numerous branches and bears many grapes.
In the Old Testament, grapes symbolized Israel’s fruitfulness in doing God’s work on the earth (Psalm 80:8; Isaiah 5:1-7; Ezekiel 10:10-14).
In the Passover meal, the fruit of the vine symbolizes God’s goodness to His people.
Reflection: (John 15:1ff)
Christ is the vine, and God is the gardener who cares for the branches to make them fruitful.
The branches are all those who claim to be followers of Christ.
The fruitful branches are true believers who by their living union with Christ produce much fruit.
But, those who become unproductive – those who turn back from following Christ after making a superficial commitment – will be separated from the vine.
Unproductive followers are as good as dead and will be cut off and tossed aside.
2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He [a]takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
Reflection: (John 15:2-3)
Jesus makes a distinction between two kinds of pruning: cutting off and cutting back branches.
Fruitful branches are cut back to promote growth.
In other words, God must sometimes discipline us to strengthen our character and faith.
But, branches that don’t bear fruit are cut off at the trunk not only because they are worthless, but also because they often infect the rest of the tree.
People who don’t bear fruit for God or who try to block the efforts of God’s followers will be cut off from His life giving power.
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
Reflection: (John 15:5)
“Fruit” refers to a number of different things that will be evident in a believer’s life.
In this chapter, answered prayer, joy, and love are mentioned as fruit (John 15:7; 11-12; Galatians 5:22-24; and 2 Peter 1:5-8) describe additional fruit; qualities of Christ character.
6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
Reflection: (John 15:5-6)
Remaining in Christ means
- Believing that He is God’s Son (1 John 4:15)
- Receiving Him as Savior and Lord (John 1:12)
- Doing what God’ says (1 John 3:24)
- Continuing to believe the Good News (1 John 2:24)
- And relating in love to the community of believers, Christ’s body (John 15:12).
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you[b] will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Reflection: (John 15:5-8)
Many people try to be good, honest people who do what is right.
But Jesus says that the only way to live a truly good life is to stay close to Him, like a branch attached to the vine.
Apart from Christ our efforts are unfruitful.
Are you receiving the nourishment and life offered by Christ, the vine?
If not, you are missing a special gift He has for you.
Reflection: (John 15:8)
When a vine produces “much fruit,” God is glorified, for daily He sent the sunshine and rain to make the crops grow, and constantly He nurtured each tiny plant and prepared it to blossom.
What a moment of glory for the Lord of the harvest when the harvest is brought into the barns, mature and ready for use!
He made it all happen!
This farming analogy shows how God is glorified when people come into a right relationship with Him and begin to produce “much fruit in their lives.
9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.
Reflection: (John 15:11)
When things are going well, we feel elated.
When hardships come, we might sink into depression.
But tru joy transcends the rolling waves of circumstance.
Joy comes from a consistent relationship with Jesus Christ.
When our lives are intertwined with His, He will help us walk through adversity without sinking into debilitating love and manage prosperity without moving into deceptive highs.
The joy of living with Jesus Christ daily will keep us levelheaded, no matter how high or low our circumstances.
12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.
Reflection: (John 15:12-13)
We are to love each other as Jesus loved us, and He loved us enough to give His life for us.
We may not have to die for someone, but there are other ways to practice sacrificial love; listening, helping, encouraging, and giving.
Think of someone in particular who needs this kind of love today.
Give all the love you can, and then try to give a little more.
14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
Reflection: (John 15:15)
Because Jesus Christ is Lord and Master, He should call us servants.
Instead, He calls us friends.
How comforting and reassuring to be chosen as Christ’s friends!
We owe Him our unqualified obedience, but Jesus asks us to obey Him because we love Him.
16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
Reflection: (John 15:16)
Jesus made the first choice – to love us and to die for us, to invite us to live with Him forever.
We make the next choice – to accept or reject His offer.
Without His choice, we would have no choice to make.
17 These things I command you, that you love one another.
Reflection: (John 15:17)
Christians will get plenty of hatred from the world; from each other we need love and support.
Do you allow small problems to get in the way of loving other believers?
Jesus commands that you love them, and He will give you the strength to do it.