“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
Jesus often spoke in allegories or parables. He spoke these words from John 15 to His disciples so that they might understand how fruit is produced in the kingdom of God. Vines and branches produce physical fruit, but Jesus wants us to bear spiritual fruit. He says, “I am the true vine.” Jesus is the Vine and the only reason that fruit is produced in a Christian’s life.
We often try to live productive lives on our own. We forget that our roots are in Christ.. Where there are no roots in Him, there will be no good fruit. If we are connected to Christ and get our nourishment from His Word, then we will bear spiritual fruit. When we understand this, we can agree with Christ’s claim in John 15:5: “Apart from me you can do nothing.”
So what does this really mean? What can a Christian do to bear spiritual fruit? One of the great lessons we learn from John 15 is that the Christian life cannot be lived only through human effort or good intentions. Jesus says, “Remain in me.” As a vine is attached to a branch, so we are to be attached to Christ. If we know Christ and have been saved by Him, our work is to keep close to Jesus all day, every day.
One of the ways God trains us to bear fruit is through pruning, which is a cleansing or cutting away of the dead branches that have stopped bearing fruit. Why does God prune His people? It’s not because He is angry with us, as many people tend to believe. Instead, He prunes us so that we will bear more fruit and glorify Him.
John 15:3 tells us, “You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” This affirms that God uses His Word to make us clean. It is through understanding this truth and allowing the Spirit of God to work in our hearts that we can begin to bear good fruit. We keep close to Christ and remain in Him when we keep his Word close to us.
The spiritual fruits that the Christian should desire include good works and godly character. In other words, remaining in Christ will direct what we do and shape who we are.
These good works have a purpose. In Matthew 5:16, Jesus encourages his followers: “Let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Our Christlike actions point other people to Christ and glorify God the Father.
When we remain in Jesus Christ and allow his Spirit to work in us, our character will also change. We will start looking more like Christ. Galatians 5:22-23 gives us a picture of what this looks like: “But the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Jesus, fully God and fully man on earth, is the perfect embodiment of this fruitful life.
When Jesus says that He is the “true vine,” He is reminding us that He is the source of life and that He is the reason for any good fruit produced in our lives. Unless we are rooted in Him, we can do nothing that glorifies God.
Are you keeping close to Christ? How is God’s Word shaping what you do and who you are today?
Written by Bryant Wright, Founder, RFTH
Live it out
1. Read Galatians 5:13-26 - then take inventory of your life. What fruits of the Spirit did you find? Which ones are missing?
2. Living out the fruits of the Spirit is also a choice. What choice will you make today?