Reading John 15 this morning, about Jesus being the vine and us the branches, it occurred to me that sometimes the power and significance of this passage is a little overshadowed by the sneaky fear some of us have that we might prove to be a ‘fruitless branch’, and that we might be ‘cut off’. We can spend time wondering ‘Am I OK?’ and then miss the immensity of what Jesus is saying.
If you fall into that category, then let me reassure you. The fact that you are reading the bible or this blog would indicate a hunger to know God more and to grow in your faith. That in itself is ‘fruit’, and if you are looking at your life and thinking ‘I don’t see much fruit’ perhaps you are among those who are ‘poor in spirit’, those who recognize their spiritual poverty, of whom Jesus said ‘theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven’ Matthew 5:3.
If you still feel ‘fruitless’ then may be just ask yourself, ‘Am I a little kinder, a little more patient these days?’ or ‘have I noticed that I’m not so comfortable with gossip and jealousy, as I used to be?’ The point I am making is that fruit bearing is different to being perfect. We are all growing and changing, and the fact that we want to grow and do better is in itself a sign that there is ‘fruit bearing’ going on, and that we do in fact come into the category of those who the Lord is delighted to prune.
So let’s return to the wonderful truth that we nearly missed as we read these verses through, and see if there are any clues to bearing fruit abundantly. Jesus is saying that we can do nothing without Him, but with His life flowing through us we can bear ‘much fruit’ and glorify the Father. His life is the ‘sap’ that causes the fruit to form and grow.
John writes for us that ’on the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice (He cried out very loudly), “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink, as the scripture has said streams of living water will flow from within him”. By this He meant the Holy Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.’ John 7:37-39. For you and I, when we came to Jesus, a miracle happened, a river of life began to flow through us, and it was His very own life.
We have a couple of vines growing our pergola. They look absolutely dead in the winter, just like dried up sticks. Every spring a miracle happens before our eyes. First of all we see tiny green shoots and then a very small hardly noticeable pink flower. From there, when the fruit sets, we see a cluster of tiny tiny pinheads, looking like the end of a very small thimble. Not much to look at in any way, shape or form.
Then over the next five months, without any effort, those tiny little pin heads swell and grow into clusters and then bunches of grapes. The transformation is staggering. The fruit, which was initially hardly recognisable, fills out and swells, just because there is sap rising. The vine will in fact send its roots way down until it reaches the water table. I guess that is why they can thrive in very hot countries.
So for ourselves how do we get our embryonic ‘fruit’ to grow? Well it won’t be by looking at it and getting tense and worried about how we are doing, but thankfulness will, in a mysterious way, bring fruitfulness. I guess as we thank Him for His life flowing through us and from us, it’s like putting those roots down deep and letting the water of life rise up, making the fruit grow naturally.
If we spend time thanking Him for the wonderful privilege of having His life flow through us, rather than trying to squeeze out some more fruit to satisfy ourselves that we are OK, then that life, I believe, will flow more freely and powerfully. So next time a situation challenges your ‘fruit bearing ability’ instead of wondering if you are bearing enough fruit to warrant Jesus keeping you on the vine, turn your heart to Him and thank Him that you are in Him, and that He is in you. Thank Him for the flow of life coming from Him through you. You might be surprised at what happens next. Life is so much more fun this way!