A Lesson in Fruit Bearing (Part One)- John 15:1-17

Through an illustration about a vine and branches, Jesus here gives a lesson on fruit bearing, telling us both how to bear fruit and what it means to bear fruit. Jesus begins by stating that He is the true vine. This is a reference to Psalm 80:14-15, which refer to Israel as “this vine, the root your right hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself”. Jesus is the true vine, the Son God has raised up for Himself. The Father here is the gardener, and we find here that He prunes the branches, not the vine (this vine doesn’t need pruning). The branches here are Jesus disciples, and the Father prunes them to make them more fruitful. Pruning here involves the “trimming off” of parts which hinder fruit bearing, an allusion here to sanctification, the Father’s work of conforming us to the image of Christ. The disciples here are “clean” (same Greek word translated prune) in the present due to their acceptance of Jesus word in the past. They are already in the vine, and are told here to remain in the vine, with remain being an imperative (a command). The branches are commanded to remain in the vine, which shows us the possibility of the branch not remaining in the vine. This metaphor (vine and branch) is used to represent an intimate union, and the disciples are told here to maintain and strengthen that union. Fruit bearing comes from being intimately connected to the vine. The use of abide here serves as a metaphor for eternal life, for branches can grow, as believers can grow in eternal life (John 17:3). In verse 5, the metaphor of the vine and branches is applied directly to Jesus disciples. We must remain in Him to bear fruit, and apart from Him we can do “nothing” . Eternal life is defined as growing in intimate personal knowledge of Jesus Christ (John 17:3), and that growing relationship is pictured here by the vine and branches. Those who don’t grow in eternal life (abide in Him) become “like” branches that bear no fruit, are of no “use” to the vine. We then are told, in verse 7, how to “abide”; by His words abiding in us. We grow to know Him through His words, through which we grow to know His mind and heart. As this occurs, we grow to know His “will”, and will find ourselves asking for what He wants anyway, and what we “wish” will line up with His will, so we will have whatever we wish. A growing intimacy with Jesus will always result in fruit bearing in our lives. This fruit bearing is always to the Father’s glory (not ours), and we will discuss what this means in our next post. We conclude for now by observing that we bear fruit as we abide in Him, that abiding in Him means growing in eternal life, and that growing in eternal life means growing in an intimate personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This is how we bear fruit.

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