At the beginning of John 15 Jesus uses a simple grape vine to deliver an incredibly profound teaching. I’ve never grown grapes, but this doesn’t prevent me from understanding Jesus’ instruction. Everyone knows how plants grow and produce fruit. I want to highlight some of the points Jesus makes with this image. Read John 15:1-8 a few times.
- Connection is the key. You don’t need to be a master gardener to understand that branches live only when they are connected to the plant. Therefore, our primary responsibility as Jesus’ disciples is to remain connected to him. Notice how Jesus stresses and repeats the phrase “abides in me”. Abiding in Christ is more important than anything else we do. What is more, everything we do should be an expression of this relationship. This is not just a vague concept, but a completely practical truth by which we must arrange our lives. The New Testament authors explore and explain this at length in numerous passages. For example, Paul speaks extensively in Ephesians about our being in Christ and what that means. It is impossible for us to accomplish anything without him, and without him anything we do is a waste of time.
- Connected branches grow. Branches that are connected do not remain the same, but in fact they grow. Jesus’ point about this is recorded for us in verse 2. Again, the writers of the New Testament frequently discuss this. Peter’s comments in 2 Peter 1:3-11 are particularly clear.
- Connected branches produce fruit. The Lord’s purpose is for every one of us to enter his glorious work by producing fruit. Jesus adds that his disciples don’t produce a small crop but an abundance of fruit. Remember that our abiding in Christ comes before we can produce fruit, and that our abiding in Christ is the only way for us to produce fruit. Branches that are unconnected never bear fruit. Read Romans 7:4-6 and Galatians 5:22-26.
- Connection is a prerequisite for prayer. As we focus on our relationship with the Lord we begin to understand the place of prayer. Prayer is an expression of our relationship with the Lord. We are moved to pray with confidence as the Lord directs us.
- God is glorified as we live in agreement with Jesus’ teaching. The goal of abiding in Christ is not our pleasure, growth, or even our purity, although these are all involved. The goal of our remaining connected with Jesus is that God would be glorified. If you want to give glory to God, then follow Jesus’ teaching. Read Philippians 1:10-11
After considering these points take time to examine your own life. The following questions will be a good starting point for you.
? Do my decisions, actions, priorities, etc demonstrate that I believe what Jesus teaches here?
? What did I do last week to help me remain connected to Jesus?
? What fruit did I produce this past week as a result of abiding in Christ?
? How am I growing in and as a result of my relationship with the Lord?
? What am I currently doing to remain connected to the Lord?
? What fruit do I expect to produce this week?
Close your time in prayer. Ask that God would be glorified through your life, and give thanks that this is now possible through Christ.