The Vine

When I was a little girl, my mom taught me how to deadhead (or prune) a mum bush. I would spend hours sitting outside plucking all the brown dried flower heads off. It was my favorite chore and felt so satisfying to see all the green on the bush instead of the brown when I was done. In John Chapter 15, Jesus talks a little bit about this pruning concept as a metaphor for what happens when people do not “bear fruit.”

 “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. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:5-8 NLT

There are amazing promises in this passage that we need to address. The first one is that if we remain in Jesus we WILL bear MUCH fruit. Not just one little bunch of grapes, but clusters and clusters. The second promise is that we can do NOTHING apart from Jesus. If a tree branch get struck by lightening and falls off the tree, can it keep growing? No. It has to be connected to the rest of the tree to continue to grow. And what happens to that branch that has fallen off? It is disposed of and turned into an awesome bonfire. It this case, that is not a good thing. This is most likely a reference to hell – or the absence of God. Jesus is showing that it is vital to be connected to Jesus by remaining in Him and bearing fruit.

The next promise Jesus gives us if we do remain in Jesus and His words remain in us (done by memorizing Scripture and living accordingly) is the ability to ask for anything but also having the confidence that it will be done. That’s crazy! I do not believe that this means asking for a fancy car or winning the lotto, but I believe that this means asking for miracles. If we are in such a close relationship with Jesus, we will be able to know what Jesus would want us to ask for.

My husband, Caleb, and I have been together for 8 years. In that time we have learned each other’s patterns of thinking. Often times when a phrase or a word is said we will know the exact thoughts of each other and say it at the same time. For example if someone says, “Did you let the dog out?” We both look at each other and start singing “Who let the dogs out! Who?! Who?” It follows with giggles and a “I know you were going to do that.” This is a simple and silly example but it shows how when you’ve spent time with someone you know what they are going to do and can join them in that for a cool moment of bonding. I think this is what Jesus is referring to. If you know Jesus so well and are constantly thinking of that popular 90s catch phrase W.W.J.D. (What would Jesus do?) then you start to live in and like Him, and His words are in you because you’ve spent time with Him to know His response in various circumstances.

So if someone comes to you and is dealing with a tough situation and you are so connected to Jesus that you know He would love to do a miracle in this person’s life and has given you the ability to do it, then you can ask for it and it’s going to be done! Wouldn’t that just prove how strong your relationship is with God? Would that tell people that you are connected to Him? And then, He gets the glory and the credit for doing miracles. As a result, people will be changed and effected because of your relationship with Jesus. And that is fruit. Showing God to others is exactly what we are being asked to do when we are told to bear fruit.

That sounds great and all, but how do we get to that point of being in that type of a relationship with Jesus? If we keep reading a little more He tells us:

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. John 15:9-13 NLT

Love. The key to all of it is love. The first part of love is first recognizing and accepting that Jesus loves you – unconditionally. There is nothing you can do to earn Jesus’ love or nothing you can do to reduce His love for you, but you can choose not to be connected to that love. That’s why we are being told to remain in that love, or also translated as “abide in my love,” which means to live or dwell. If we dwell in the love of Jesus, we are making decisions and living out of a place of love which gives us the ability to love others. That was Jesus’ only command here, to love others as Jesus loved the disciples. They didn’t realize it yet, but Jesus was going to die the next day- for all of us. He wasn’t just saying inspirational words to the disciples, He was empowering them to follow His example and trusting that they would connect the dots later.

We too are called to this level of love. We need to ask ourselves if we value the lives of others. Would we be willing to sacrifice our own lives for someone else if we had the opportunity to? We may not get that opportunity, but would we be willing to sacrifice our comfort, social status and popularity for someone else? When we can get to that level of loving people, Jesus tells us about another promise that comes with love: joy. This is not just any joy and a mistake for happiness that is cheap and fleeting, this is complete joy.

Complete joy lives in the moment and trusts that God holds our future. Complete joy doesn’t care what other people think because it knows what true love looks like; it lives out of that place of love. Complete joy cares deeply for others and would willingly sacrifice their own lives; it recognizes that Jesus has given His own life and has conquered the fear of death. Complete joy prays for miracles and has the faith and confidence that God will answer; it bears much fruit because it is in connection to the source of the giver of life. All of this is what Jesus promises if we choose remain in Him and in His love.

So friends, be connected to the source of life so you can have life and give life to others through Jesus. In Him you are loved and are able to love like He loved us. The result will be a life of complete joy and much fruit.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *