In fact the only grapes I ever saw on this plant were hidden underneath, out of the sun very close the original vine. But they were very small and sour because they didn’t get much light, and these long fruitless branches probably took most of the water and nutrients to keep themselves alive and growing fruitlessly. As I read this verse it occurred to me that these long branches seemed to be trying to get away, to not abide in the vine, but were reaching, searching for something else.
They were attached to the vine but straying away in search of something else, to fulfill some other purpose, because it was certainly not to produce fruit. Only the ones that stayed close to the vine produced any fruit, but even the quality of their fruit was affected by the other branches that were wandering off.
These rogue branches do not represent nonbelievers, but believers who wander away, do not abide in Jesus, and do not produce fruit. This is confirmed by what he says in the first verse of the next chapter, “I have said all these things to keep you from falling away.”
Related Text Illustrations
Contributed by Brian Mavis on Oct 27, 2000
You share Christ by imitating Christ. A story is told – by Fredrick Beuchner I believe – called “The Happy Hypocrite." It is a story about a man who was born with an awful facial deformity. He grew up alone and lonely. When reaching adulthood, he decided to move from his town to begin a new life. ...read more
Contributed by Tim Zingale on Dec 12, 2000
Remember the opening scene: the village and you see a fiddler on the roof and Tevye says:"A fiddler on the roof. Sounds crazy, no? but in our little village of Anatevka, you might say every one of us is a fiddler on the roof, trying to scratch out a pleasant, simple tune without breaking his neck. ...read more
Contributed by Owen Bourgaize on Oct 18, 2000
Polycarp, the bishop of Smyrna was brought before the Roman authorities and told to curse Christ and he would be released. He replied, "Eighty-six years have I served him, and he has done me no wrong: how then can I blaspheme my king who saved me?" The Roman officer replied, "Unless you change ...read more
Contributed by Philip Makari on Jan 17, 2001
Here I speak of a special type of giving, the giving of our total selves first to God. It is the giving of body, soul and spirit for God’s use that we may achieve, for ourselves and for others, the higher ends of God. This is not, as you can see, charity giving. This is dedication giving. ...read more