The True Vine
15 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
So we come to the Fifteenth chapter of John. Just to set the stage, a background of this lesson. Starting at chapter 13 & running through chapter sixteen of the Book of John, we find ourselves on Thursday night of Passion week, the last week of our Lords ministry. Thursday night was an important night. Jesus gathered with the 12 disciples to celebrate the Passover, in a secret place we call the upper room.
When Jesus says that He is the Vine, He is employing an image that is very familiar to His followers. He often used elements from nature to illustrate His teaching – water, seeds, soil, wheat, fig trees, flowers and birds. Grapes were common everywhere and have always been central to Israel’s agriculture and economy. In fact, the grapevine was the emblem of Israel.
The image of the vine and its fruit has far deeper spiritual symbolism. The grapevine represented Israel’s fruitfulness in doing God’s work on earth. Unfortunately, His people neglected to keep the vine nourished and, as a result, they ended up going wild and losing their fruit. God’s desire has always been for His people to be fruitful. This goes all the way back to Genesis 1:28 when He said, “Be fruitful and increase in number.” In fact, a Christian who does not produce fruit is a contradiction in terms. According to John15:16, we have been chosen to bear fruit “that will last.”
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 remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
According to our Lord Jesus, when He chooses His followers, bearing fruit is a must. And that… “that fruit should remain”. So…with this verse alone shows proof of a true conversion/true calling. Whenever Jesus is the One choosing, He /She is saved for life, for all eternity. (that your fruit should remain) Let us now take a look at the character of this vineyard…
There are three characters in this extended allegory….
In contrast to faithless and fruitless Israel, Jesus is the fulfillment of all that they were not. We could translate it this way: “I myself am the vine, the real one.” The word “true” means, “genuine and real.” This claim of Jesus is a manifestation of Him being the Messiah
A vineyard is planted for a different purpose than a flower garden. We plant flowers because they’re pretty. A vineyard is planted in order to get grapes. The goal is not flowers, but fruit.
Here’s the principle. God the Gardener loves us so much, and is so committed to displaying His glory, that He actively cultivates our lives so that we will move from no fruit, to more fruit, too much fruit. Church, If today were harvest day, how much fruit have we grown? Are we still growing/bearing fruit? Or like some…withered and died. Appeared only to have a Christian life that is false. How can I say that to be true? Scripture said it no fruit!
Here’s the good news. More is always possible because you and I were created for this very purpose. According to Matthew 7:20 fruit bearing is a sign of spiritual life:
20 Therefore by their fruits you will know them.
Listen. Many church goers are holding on to their church background even though they might not have Christian belief. You can be connected to a church and not be converted. Let me say it this way. If you don’t have any fruit, it might be because you don’t have saving faith. You may think you’re a Christian but you’re not following Christ. A true Christian will bear fruit.
There are three ways to grow more fruit according to our opening text.
Prepare for Pruning. Notice the last part of John 15:2:
2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
Pruning is done so that those who bear a meager amount of fruit will bear more fruit. Good pruning creates a strong root system, improves the health of the fruit and most importantly, increases the yield. It will continue to grow, and it doesn’t stop until the time of harvest.
Here’s some examples of why pruning a Christian is very important.
• God does not prune us without thought. He knows what He’s doing because He always follows a precise plan. Since He’s working to make us more like Christ, He only removes what is necessary and avoids unnecessary injury.
• Pruning involves pain. The Father’s pruning knife is sharp, but it is not designed to ultimately damage or destroy us. He uses all sorts of unpleasant things to prune us – circumstances, failures, relationships, illnesses, and trials in order to get us to bear more fruit.
• Pruning can last a long time. The pruning process doesn’t continue for one day, or for one week, or one year. We really can’t say, In fact, the longer a grapevine is alive, the more pruning it needs. Some of us who are older in our faith may need more pruning than we think we do.
Is God pruning you right now? If so, remember it’s not ultimately for your pain but for your gain and for His glory. David realized this when he wrote in Psalm 119:67…
Before I was afflicted, I went astray, But now I keep Your word.
68 You are good and do good; Teach me Your statutes.
The only way for that to happen is to be pruned. Discipline from God has to happen from time to time.
3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
In the natural course of time, a branch will grow rapidly but will not necessarily go where it should. Left to itself, it will head to the ground, where it will become coated with dust and eventually get covered with mud and mildew. A gentle gardener will pick up the branch, wash it off, and tenderly tuck it back into the trellis where it can do what it was created to do – bear fruit.
Church, are you playing around in the mud of sin? Allow the heavenly Gardener to clean you off and pick you up. Sometimes He sends discipline our way in order to get our attention. These painful measures are designed to bring us to repentance so that we can get back to the business of bearing fruit. This has been referred to as “the best good news you didn’t want to hear.”
Deal with the discipline that God may be sending your way and remember that the Gardener corrects in order to redirect. Hebrews 12:11:
Hebrews 12:11 (NIV)
11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
The Gardener has plans for you, and His actions are intended to move you towards the place He wants you to be. Sometimes He disturbs our slumber so He can shock us with growth. You may wonder what the difference is between discipline and pruning. While they both hurt and they’re both for our good, discipline primarily comes as a result of sin while pruning deals with the problem of self.
You don’t have to stay where you are right now. You can fast forward to fruitfulness… but you must run to Him, not away from Him any longer. God’s discipline is always intended to be redemptive and to restore. He is more interested in propelling you toward fruitfulness than He is in punishing you. Don’t spend a minute longer languishing in the muck and mire of sin. You are not stuck where you are with no way out. Allow Him to lift you up. If we are faithful, God will make us fruitful.
Remaining in Christ is a must, after all we cannot call ourselves Christian if not for Christ.
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
If we want…I said want, if it’s our desire to follow Christ because we have felt His love and forgiveness, then we must actively abide in Christ. Not just lip service. Actions need to take place. Moving/growing needs to be evident. We must stay closely connected to Christ at all times. To “abide” means, “to stay,” “to dwell or remain,” or “to settle in for the long term.” Jesus is saying something like this: “Live in such a manner that you are at home in Me and that I am at home in you.” The word “abide” is used 11 times in John 15 and 40 times in the Gospel of John. Here is why I said “want/desire to follow Christ…
8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
This is not a suggestion but an imperative. When we settle in with the Savior, we will demonstrate abundant fruitfulness and bring glory to God. Conversely, if we do not remain in fellowship with Christ, our fruit/so called fruit, will be barren and we’ll bomb out spiritually.
If you have the courage to take a look at your life and can’t find any fruit, you need to figure out why that is. Perhaps you’re not saved or maybe you need to repent of some sin in your life. You see…the truth is, God CANNOT be the one holding you back.
The Christian life is a supernatural life and none of us can live it apart from a dependence on Christ. We can do nothing apart from Him. All our attempts to produce Christian character will be fruitless and frustrating apart from cultivating a close relationship with the Vine. Have you been drifting spiritually? Are you neglecting the spiritual disciplines? A branch disengaged from the vine will dry up and decay. It’s time to strengthen your attachment to Him.
8 Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded.
Here’s the encouraging thing. Our job is not to produce fruit, but to bear fruit. Faithfulness is our obligation; fruitfulness is God’s concern. It’s not a matter of you and me, trying to get some fruit to flourish, our job is to trust and obey and abide, and He will grow His fruits in you and me. Our responsibility, by God will and strength, is to stay as close connected to the Vine as we can. When we are faithful, we will be fruitful.
The result of spiritual fruitfulness is that God will be glorified
Pastor Richard Santos
Audio copies of previously delivered messages are now available in CD. Requests can be made on the 'Contacts' tab.
Video message is now available in YouTube as of Jan. 2020