Begin By Reading: John 15:1-17
They had been close friends for three years. They had traveled together, shared meals and sleeping quarters. They had left profitable careers to follow this strange figure named Jesus who, at the onset of their journey together, had given them a vision of something bigger than themselves.
With Jesus, they had been taught by the Great Teacher. They had seen Him walk on water, calm storms, raise someone from the dead, even feed thousands with some bread and a few sardines. They had felt His great love, patience, and care for them even when they had themselves been so dull and thick. They anticipated the next great adventure with Jesus on this amazing journey.
Yet, during what would be their last meal with Jesus on this earth, He tells them that He’s leaving them. Like Forrest Gump suddenly telling his cross-country running disciples, “I think I’ll go home now,” Jesus tells His disciples that He is going away and they can’t go with Him.
In a matter of hours, the disciples’ world would be turned upside down. They would watch Jesus be arrested, endure a mock trial, and be beaten unmercifully by the Roman guards. But the final challenge would be seeing Jesus crucified and dying on the Cross.
Before all this would occur, as they left the upper room and began to move towards the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus gave the disciples one last lesson which begins with, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit, He prunes so that it would be even more fruitful.” (John 15:5)
The disciples understood the significance of this statement. Vines grew abundantly in Palestine. Carefully pruned vines produced sweet grapes. Yet, the vines that were left unkept would creep everywhere and into everything. The gardener trimmed the vines so they could bear more fruit. God trims us for the same reason- so that we might bear fruit.
The illustration that Jesus gave to the disciples then still applies to us today. Jesus is the vine, God is the gardener, we are the branches.
God loves to find anything that impedes our growth and trim it away. His goal for every Christian is to increase fruit-bearing. What fruit does He want? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. These are the fruits of the Spirit.
It is also important to note that the verb “prune” comes from the Greek word airo. In addition to “cutting off”, this verb also implies “lifting up”. A good gardener will reposition and stretch a fruitless branch so it can get more sun and more space.
Likewise, God will seek to make each of us fruitful by lifting us up, encouraging us, and motivating us through God’s Word and through the people of God. (Is anyone hearing the song “Love Lifted Me” right now?)
No branch can produce fruit without remaining connected to the branch. A branch that’s disconnected from the vine is useless. In the same way, we can’t produce fruit unless we remain in Jesus. The idea of “remaining” or “abiding” in Christ has to do with intimacy and relationship. Jesus is our source, the only one who can provide the spiritual sustenance and vitality we need to be useful believers.
We need to remain in Him. We can’t avoid Jesus all week and then show up on Sunday morning expecting growth. We only produce fruit when we remain in Him.
To have Jesus’ words remain or abide in each of us requires more than merely reading or listening to them; instead, we must internalize them. It involves meditating on God’s Word, rolling it around in our minds to grasp what it means in our specific circumstances. As we do this, we find that our will and our hearts begin to align with His will and His heart.
The eleven disciples would soon discover that the cross was not the final nail in their journey with Jesus. The experiences that they had shared with Jesus up to this point were only prologue.
The empty tomb would signify to them, as it still does now to us, that it was only the beginning.
Remain in Him.
Consider Your Life
• What promises of God are revealed in today’s passage?
• Read Galatians 5:22. Think back on your life and recall how God may have used what seemed like random circumstances to “prune” you in order to develop fruit in you.
• What areas of your life might still need some pruning?
• What do each of the following verses reveal to us about the practice of abiding in Christ:
• 1 John 4:15
• John 1:12
• 1 John 3:24
• 1 John 2:24
• John 15:12
• As you pray, give God the space to remind you of lessons from this Lenten season that can help you bear fruit.
• As you pray, reflect on the particular fruits of the Spirit that are most difficult for you. Ask God to help you grow in those areas.
• In prayer, invite God to use this Holy Week and Easter season to prepare you to flourish as a growing branch for him in the days ahead.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for Your Word, that is eternal and true. During this Holy Week, search our hearts and reveal to us those areas where we need to become more fruitful. Grant us the wisdom to remain in you, today and all days. Amen.