Monday, April 29, 2024

 Fruit Bearing

Part 1

Pastor Vicky Moots
Kingman, Kansas

Fruit bearing is an important topic in Scripture.  In fact, the first commandment given in the Bible was to be fruitful, in Gen. 1:27-28.  Prior to that, we read that God created the fruit tree to bear fruit.  The physical creation gives us a picture of the spiritual, so as Christians, we are also to bear fruit.

John 15:1-8 is Jesus’ discourse on the vine and the branches.  Verse 8 says, “Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”  These words were spoken on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane.  Jesus was speaking specifically to His true disciples. They had just finished eating the Passover meal, and Judas had left during supper to proceed with his plans to betray Jesus (John 13:27-30), so he was not with them.

The most important thing to know about Jesus’ discussion of the vine and the branches is that it is referring only to fruit bearing, not to salvation.  He desired that after His death and resurrection all of His true disciples would bear fruit.  If you are born again, then you can consider yourself one of His disciples, so He is also speaking to you.

Jesus often taught spiritual truths by using common earthly examples.  In this case, He is using the example of a fruit bearing vine, most likely a grape vine, which would be familiar to them.

In v. 1 He says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.”  What is a husbandman? It is a farmer or the one who takes care of the crop.  In this example it would be the vine dresser, the one who prunes and cares for the vine and its branches in order to enable them to reach their maximum potential for fruit bearing.

That means that if God is the husbandman, then He is the one who will do the pruning.  The vine’s branches cannot prune themselves.  Nor should they be carelessly pruned by someone who is not trained to do it properly, who might do more harm than good.

Verse 2: “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he [God] taketh away…”.  This is referring to a dead branch, because it is not capable of bearing fruit.  It is physically attached to the vine but is not tapped in to its life source, and therefore has no life in it.  A living branch will always produce some fruit, even if it is only a small amount.

Verse 6 goes along with verse 2 and is referring to the branch that was removed because it was dead.  That branch was not actually a part of the vine.  Verse 6 says, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered…”.  Judas was that dead branch.  He was attached to the vine symbolically but had no life.  He was a disciple in name only.  Jesus called him and he followed Jesus around, but he did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God.  He followed Jesus only for the money.  He was used as a tool of Satan to betray Jesus, and was never a believer or a true disciple.  In the pruning process, all dead branches must be cut off.

The dead branches are also all those who profess to be Christians but have never been born again.  They may be members of a church but are not members of the body of Christ.  The life of a vine must flow through its branches in order to provide life and the ability to bear fruit.  We are not even a part of the vine until we accept Christ as Savior.  “He that hath the Son hath life;  and he that hath not the Son hath not life” (I John 5:12).

A grapevine that is not properly pruned will not produce much fruit, or the fruit will be of smaller size and lesser quality.  If left to grow on their own without being pruned, the branches will over grow and cover up the grape clusters, preventing them from receiving adequate sunlight and air flow which are needed for the grapes to mature.  If the branches are cut back too harshly, then the fruit will become sunburned.  The grapes need the proper amount of sunlight and air to mature to their fullest and sweetest.  In addition, in order to prune properly, the pruning tool or knife must be very sharp so that it will make a nice clean cut and not damage the branches.

Jesus explains in v. 5 that He is the vine and we are the branches.  And in v. 4 He says, “Abide in me, and I in you.  As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.”  Verse 5 then continues this thought: “…He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”  What does it mean to abide in the Vine, to abide in the Lord? The word “abide” means to stand fast; to remain; to stay; to submit to.”  When we submit ourselves fully to the Lord, we stand fast on His Word.  We submit to His will in our lives, which means submitting to the pruning even if we don’t like the cutting.  But the final result is that we will be able to bear much fruit.  The amount of fruit we will bear depends on the amount to which we are willing to submit ourselves into the hands of the Husbandman.  We are to keep our minds stayed on the Lord, not on the things of the world.

Since the branches of a vine are a living out-growth of the main vine stem, and they receive their life from the vine itself, they have no life within themselves, and therefore would not be able to bear fruit without the vine.  In order for a grapevine to bear good quality fruit it must be pruned on a regular basis which is also true for us spiritually.

In the spiritual sense, the sharp pruning tool that is used to do this is the Word of God.  We read in Heb. 4:12 that “The word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword…”.  God does the cutting in our lives through His Word when we read it or hear it.  It is able to penetrate to the depths of our hearts and purge out our dead works and the overgrowth of self in order that we can become fruitful.

The farther a branch grows outward away from the main vine stem, the less fruit it will produce, which is why pruning is necessary on a regular basis.  This is true spiritually also.  The closer we abide in the vine, the sweeter and better the fruit that we will bear.

Part 2 in June issue.