Read John 15:1-17.
During their final discipleship retreat, Jesus poured his heart out to his friends. He even told them,
You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
Wow, I can’t imagine how those men felt. They had finally recognized him as the Son of God, the Messiah, and he was calling them friends. What an honor. How humbling.
Yet, he first spoke of them as branches. Not quite as special as friend, but in the context it made sense. Jesus was the true vine. So, because they trusted in him, they were branches of the vine. Nice analogy. But there was more.
God was the gardener, and he carried pruning shears. He did two things with those shears:
- Cut off the branches that didn’t bear fruit.
- Pruned those that did.
Neither sounds pleasant, but there wasn’t a choice. Without the vine, the branch can’t bear fruit period. Remaining in Christ was mandatory…pruning inevitable.
Jesus wants us to bear fruit, to be so closely linked to him that fruit comes naturally. The more the fruit, the more we glorify God, the gardener, because fruit is the evidence that we are remaining in the vine.
He changes the analogy slightly, by saying that remaining in Jesus is remaining in his love. It’s his love that flows through us and motivates us to obey, just as Jesus knew God’s love and obeyed him. What does he ask of us? Love each other.
If I’m not bearing fruit, I have to ask myself two questions:
- Am I abiding in Christ? Am I in relationship with him?
- Am I loving my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?
The Apostle John tells us that this is not hard or heavy on us:
This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. (1 John 5:2-4)
That’s what Jesus is telling us. Remain in him. He’s our friend. He’s not asking something too hard of us, just to love each other. In doing that, we’ll bear fruit.
Do I need to repair my relationship with the Vine? Do I need to repair my relationship with my brother or sister in Christ? Get both in order and be ready for the harvest!