Apart From Me
The illustration of the vine and the branches which Jesus uses in John 15 gives us several truths which we need to take to heart. Too often we are like the adulterous woman (Proverbs 30:20) who commits her wicked deed and then goes on her way claiming she has done nothing wrong. We can read a text or hear a sermon and then go on our way without being affected by what we read or hear. I encourage you to read and study this text in depth on your own.
First we note there is an expectation of fruit bearing by Jesus’ disciples. In fact, Jesus uses the expressions of “more fruit” and “much fruit.” The indication is that by bearing much fruit a person will “prove” to be a disciple of Jesus. What is this fruit? Scripture shows this fruit to be of two types. One is the inner transformation of character exhibited by the fruit of the Spirit. The disciple’s demeanor grows to become like that of His Master. The other is an out growth of this previous one in which the disciple would be filled with good works of all sorts including sowing the seed of the gospel.
As a branch of the vine, a disciple will in fact be “pruned” by the Father so that more fruit will be produced. Pruning would indicate teaching, correcting and disciplining in order to remove whatever was hindering the fruit bearing. This would include false beliefs, harmful habits and attractions to the world, and sin. Such pruning is often painful but necessary. A branch that does not bear fruit is eventually thrown away, dries up and is burned.
Jesus provides the key truth for each one of us to bear much fruit: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.” How does one abide or live in Jesus? The short answer is to keep Jesus’ commandments which means to order the whole of our lives by His words. This is no reference to of a couple of “five finger exercises” but to the entire scope of Jesus’ teaching. In doing this we will stay attached to the vine (Christ), bear much fruit and be full of joy.