The Portrait Gallery of Jesus – Part 15
Pastor Randall Floyd
Clayton A/G – Church for the REST of Us!
(All Scripture quotations are from the NIV, unless otherwise stated.)
The Apostle John Gospel Wing – Portrait 15
John 15:1-17 – True Vine
(Scripture not printed due to space considerations. Please read on your own.)
The imagery of a vine and branches does not come to us for the first time here in Jesus’ words. The image of God’s people being branches connected to God, THE Vine are first seen in Genesis 49:11 as Jacob prophesies over his son, Joseph, and Joseph’s descendants. It occurs other times throughout the OT prophets. Most references allude to the fact that the branches (God’s people) are productive only so long as they are connected to the vine (God). And so it is in this portrait of Christ found in John 15. This is another passage that allows us to see with certainty that Jesus is God and not just another “good teacher”.
There are three words that stand out in this passage: remain (or abide), fruit, and love. In the Greek the words used are meno – to stay in a given place, state, relation or expectancy; karpos – fruit that is plucked; and agape – unconditional affection and benevolence. Let’s look at each word briefly, seeing how it applies to our everyday life.
The first word, remain (or abide), calls to mind a life of stability. The Word warns us not to be double-minded, tossed to and fro by every wave of doctrine. We must learn to rest content in Christ. So many today run around like the proverbial “chicken with its head cut off”, seeking the next big thing in church! Stop! Be settled, be at rest in Jesus. We will never bear fruit of any sort for the Kingdom if we try to graft ourselves into a preacher, teacher, or spiritual mentor. All of these are good, but only if they assist us in remaining and abiding in Jesus Christ – depending on Him for our spiritual nourishment, just as the branches receive nourishment from the vine in the natural world.
The next key word is fruit. Fruit is defined as the sweet and fleshy product of a tree or other plant that contains seed and can be eaten as food. We, as branches in Christ’s garden, are called to bear fruit – to provide others with the sweetness of Jesus Christ that flows in and through us; to produce and scatter the seed of the Word and Gospel so that others may know Him; and to be a provider of spiritual nourishment to others when they are struggling in their walk. This fruit will be manifested in new souls being brought into the Kingdom, maturity and growth in ourselves and fellow believers, and in reproducing other Kingdom builders by our example and teaching.
The final word is love, specifically the agape love that is unconditional, benevolent, and affectionate. If we are abiding in the Vine and are producing fruit, it will be both the result of this kind of love being present in us, and it will also increase the amount of this kind of love in us. We can only remain (abide) and bear fruit because of agape love, and agape love increases as we remain (abide) and bear fruit. This is such a vital part of being a branch connected to the Vine and bearing fruit that Jesus ends this segment of His teaching with these words – “This is my command: Love each other.”