READ THE SCRIPTURE: JOHN 15:1-3
He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
Chapters 15 through 17 occurred as the Lord and His disciples were walking on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane. On the way they passed through the vineyards that surrounded the city. Perhaps Jesus stopped in the midst of a vineyard, took a vine, and used it as a means of illustrating to His disciples the great secret He had been seeking to impart to them in His whole discourse there in the upper room, the most fundamental and basic secret of Christian life–I am in the Father, and … the Father is in me (John 14:10).
His beautiful analogy has helped many Christians understand the relationship God wants them to know. When He said, I am the true vine, He did not mean true in contrast with something false, but rather real, genuine, as opposed to the mere copy or symbol. As He held this vine and its branches in His hand, He indicated that this was the copy. He was the true vine from which true life is received.
The purpose of this vine is to bring forth fruit. A vineyard is planted not for ornamentation, but to produce grapes, to bear fruit. This is the point our Lord makes in the story. All through this account His emphasis is upon the fruit. So the question arises, What does this fruit stand for in our life?
Some people who read this and understand the fruit to be others won to Christ. How that can be deduced from this parable is difficult to understand, because there is nothing in it that suggests that at all. Fruit is that which is produced by the vine and is the natural outflow of the life of the vine. Though it is wonderful when a Christian has the privilege of leading others to Christ, it is no indication of fruitlessness if you never have had this experience.
The figure of the vine is used many times in the Scriptures. These disciples would immediately think of several places where it was used. One is in Isaiah 5: The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel (Isaiah 5:7a). Israel was that vine. As Isaiah tells us, God cleared out the rocks in His vineyard and hedged it about. He built a tower; He protected the vineyard and cared for it. He did everything possible to cause it to produce grapes. But when He came into His vineyard and looked for grapes, He found instead sour, tasteless grapes. Isaiah tells us what that represents in verse 7: The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are the garden of his delight. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress (Isaiah 5:7).
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God came looking for justice and righteousness; instead, He found oppression, cruelty, exploitation, and indifference to the needs of others. It is evident from this parable that the fruit that God expects of the vine is moral character or, as described in Galatians, the fruit of the Spirit. The life that is in the vine produces fruit that Paul describes in Galatians 5 as love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and self-control. The fruit, in other words, is Christlikeness. And our Lord is indicating that the very purpose of the vine is to produce such fruit.
Lord, teach me to abide in You so that I can bear the fruit of Christlikeness.
What beautiful analogy has helped many people understand the relationship God wants us to know?