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As they are passing, I can imagine Jesus stopping and walking up to one of the vines and while he is standing right beside it he says this:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is 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 given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Unfortunately I can’t give you anything quite so visual and deep in tradition, but what I can do is give you all a grape, which I’d like you to hold for a while.
Get the congregation to pass round bunches of grapes each person taking one.
I’m going to break up my talk into a couple of sections, firstly I’d like to talk about the fruit that Jesus mentions and then to look at the branches.
So what is the fruit that we should be growing? It is the fruit that shows that we are Jesus’ disciples.
Right after the passage we read, Jesus goes on to tell his disciples that they need to love one another and earlier during the ‘last supper’ he told them:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
So the fruit that Jesus is talking about is our love for each other.
I am sure that it is also the attributes that are described in Galatians as the ‘fruit of the Spirit’:
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.”
So the fruit is how we live our lives, through God’s Holy Spirit, showing all the attributes of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Vines are not like trees with a large trunk out of which the branches grow, one branching off the other. Seeing the vines growing in the fields, the disciples would have observed that vines have a central stem out of which the branches grow.
In Hampton Court, there is a grapevine that is reported to be the oldest living vine. It is over 230 years old. This grapevine has one root which is 3.6 metres (12 foot) round, and some of the branches are over 36.5 metres (120 foot) long. Despite its age the vine still produces 500 to 700 bunches (weighing 220 – 320 kg) of grapes each year. Although some of the branches are 120 feet from the main root, they still bear the sweet and delicious fruit because they are connected to the vine. Each branch is connected directly to the stem and draws nourishment from it.
There are 4 different types of branch that we can look at in respect to this passage.
1. Dead wood
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