Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches.” (John 15:5)
I have said here many times that deep down inside of every human being is the desire, whether we acknowledge it or not, to live a life that truly matters. Today’s verse tells us how this is to be accomplished: by staying connected to Jesus, the true Vine.
In the Old Testament, grapes symbolized the fruitfulness of God’s people Israel when they were following His plan and purpose for their lives. In building on this image, Jesus made it clear that He, as our Vine, is the One responsible for our fruitfulness, but we must remember to stay connected to Him. If you cut a branch that is loaded with fruit off from the vine, the fruit will wither and die in short order. Only when the branch stays connected to the vine, receiving its nourishing sap, will it remain fruitful.
So the question is, Are you receiving the nourishment you need to live a life that truly matters? We can answer that question by checking our fruit.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. (Galatians 5:22-23)
Make no mistake, every disciple of Christ is absolutely dependent on Jesus for producing the fruit of the Spirit in our lives. Our source of life and spiritual fruit does not come from within ourselves. No matter how well we try to live and how hard we work, we simply cannot produce the fruit of the Spirit apart from staying connected to and receiving the sap from the Vine. Jesus laid blunt emphasis to this point, saying “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
This picture of the vine and the branches is as profound as it is personal. When the branch is separated from the vine, it dies; when it is connected to the vine, it lives. And all true branches bear good fruit, which is why Jesus says, “By their fruit you will know them” (Matthew 7:20).
Where have you been receiving your nourishment from lately? From the true Vine? Or from somewhere else? Only to the extent that you stay connected to Jesus will you live a life that will live on after you are gone — that is, a life that truly matters.
One final point: Pruning is necessary. Jesus said, “Every branch that does bear fruit [my Father] prunes so that it will be even more fruitful” (John 15:2). To be sure, pruning is painful, but it is necessary. In order to maximize your potential in the service of your Lord, God, the great Gardner, must prune you, even if you are already fruitful, because He knows there is more you can produce.
If this finds you in a season of pruning, fear not! God is at work in you to make you more fruitful for His glory and for the good of others, including good for you!
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!