In John 15, Jesus taught His disciples (and through them, us) that the secret to a fruitful life is abiding in Him. At the heart of this discourse is an extended metaphor (vv. 1-8) which Jesus then expounds upon in vv. 9-17.
- The Vine: “I am the true vine” is the 7th and final “I AM” statement in John. The vine is used as a symbol for God’s covenant people, Israel. And whenever this comparison is made, the emphasis is always on Israel’s failure to produce the fruit that God desired. Now we have Jesus applying this metaphor to Himself. Jesus is saying that He is the “true” vine, and the fruit Israel failed to bear He will bear in Himself when He is crucified. He provides true access to the living, pulsating, abundant life of God. When we try to find life in anything else, it never really satisfies.
- The Vinedresser: God the Father is caring and tending for the vine through pruning. If Jesus is the vine, and His disciples are the branches, He’s letting them know that a cutting is coming. They will feel the Vinedresser’s knife. The question is, will they abide and become even more alive and fruitful? Or will they fall away, wither, and die? The Father’s pruning cuts away what’s dead and fruitless and cultivates what’s alive and fruitful.
- The Branches: The secret to a fruitful life is abiding in Jesus. Everything hinges on the strength of our connection with Him. That’s what makes us alive! That’s what makes us fruitful! Apart from Him we wither and die; not only is there no fruit, but there is no life either. The abundant, self-giving love of the Father for the Son now overflows from Jesus into us. He invites us to make our home in His love, to settle down and abide in it. So His love for us becomes the most real thing about us. How do we abide in the love of Jesus? To abide is to dependently welcome Christ’s life into ourselves so that His Word, love, obedience, peace, and joy become our very own.
- The Fruit: If we abide in Christ, if His life is flowing in and through us, we will bear much fruit. All kinds of people claim to be followers of Jesus, but it is the fruit that will prove them out in the end. Note: Bearing fruit does not cause us to be disciples; bearing fruit characterizes us as disciples. Fruit naturally and necessarily flows from a life-giving connection with the Vine. What fruit does Jesus have in mind here? To love one another as Jesus loved us. Only Jesus’ life in us can produce the abiding Christlike fruit of loving obedience, joyous self-sacrifice, and faithful mission.
- The Sap: If the branches draw their life-nutrients from the vine, what carries them along? That’s the role of the sap. If the sap enables the nutrients to flow from the vine into the branches, what is it that enables Christ’s life to flow into ours? Prayer is the sap. In prayer, we open ourselves up to the abundant life of God for us, in us, and through us.
Takeaway: Jesus is Life.
- Do you know His life?
- Are you abiding in His life?
- Is His life bearing fruit in yours?