DECEMBER 15

The True Vine

Bible Reading: John 15

John 15:16, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide.”

My 91-year-old dad has a variety of fruit trees in his backyard, which he has been maintaining for many years.  He sprays them and prunes them and waits expectedly every year for harvest time.  This past fall, his fig tree was especially productive.  So much so that he invited neighbors to come pick from its branches and even set some fruit out by the sidewalk for those passing by to take.  His goal, of course, is to do everything necessary so that his trees will be as fruitful as possible.  God has the same goal for us in our Christian lives.  This passage holds the key to how that is made possible.

It’s good practice whenever we are studying our Bibles to look for repeated words and phrases, as they are helpful in unlocking the key to a passage of Scripture.  In this passage, the term “abide” appears 11 times; the term “fruit” appears 8 times; “branch(es) 6 times; and “vine” 3 times. The passage obviously has to do with fruit-bearing.  It speaks of bearing fruit (John 15:4), more fruit (John 15:2), much fruit (John 15:5), and lasting fruit (John 15:16).  So, this is the key.  God wants for us to bear fruit—the fruit of obedience (John 15:10), the fruit of showing love for one another (John 15:12), the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23); the fruit of doing good works to the glory of God (Colossians 1:10); the fruit which God causes when we use our gifts in ministry to others (1 Corinthians 3:6-9).

There is one simple thing that lies at the root of the matter when it comes to bearing much fruit and it is “abiding” in Christ. When my dad prunes his tree, he removes those branches that are unlikely to bear fruit and that get in the way of what he expects to be the more productive branches. Once disconnected from the tree, those branches are put in a debris pile never to bear fruit again. It would be impossible for them to henceforth bear anything, for they’ve been disconnected from their life-source. It’s the same when the Christian, as Jesus made clear, when he said, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). Put simply, it is the vitality of our connection to Jesus that makes all the difference when it comes to us doing those things that are pleasing to God.

The word “abide” is the simple word, “remain.” It speaks of remaining close to Jesus. It involves the practice of the spiritual disciplines, three of which are spoken of in this context. Abiding in Christ requires that we “abide in (his) word” (John 15:7). Abiding in Christ involves loving one another in the context of fellowship (John 15:12). And abiding in Christ necessitates prayer (John 15:16). The practice of these disciples do not equate to abiding in Christ, but are essential to the maintenance of an intimate and growing personal knowledge of Him, their practice engaged unto that virtuous goal.

Kenneth Wuest put it this way: “In John 15, the abiding of the Christian in Christ refers to his maintaining unbroken fellowship with Him. He makes his spiritual home in Christ. There is nothing between himself and his Savior, no sin unjudged and not put away. He depends upon Him for spiritual life and vigor as the branch is dependent upon the vine. The abiding of Christ in the Christian is His permanent residence in Him and His supplying that Christian with the necessary spiritual energy to produce fruit in his life through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

He is the vine.  We are the branches.  God wants for you to bear much lasting fruit in your Christian life.  The key is the maintenance of an intimate and healthy relationship with Christ! 

JUST A CLOSER WALK WITH THEE

I am weak but Thou art strong;
Jesus, keep me from all wrong;
I’ll be satisfied as long
As I walk, let me walk close to Thee.

Refrain:
Just a closer walk with Thee,
Grant it, Jesus, is my plea,
Daily walking close to Thee,
Let it be, dear Lord, let it be.

Thro’ this world of toil and snares,
If I falter, Lord, who cares?
Who with me my burden shares?
None but Thee, dear Lord, none but Thee. [Refrain]

When my feeble life is o’er,
Time for me will be no more;
Guide me gently, safely o’er
To Thy kingdom shore, to Thy shore. [Refrain]

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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