Summary: What it means to be fruitful for Christ, and how we become fruitful
Does anyone like wild flowers? They can be really beautiful out in the countryside, in the hedges or on the hillside. Even in our own city envronment is brightened up by wild flowers, that some people might consider to be weeds, growing up through gaps in the concrete.
But what about cut flowers, displayed in vases? Lots of people really appreciate the sight of a bunch of fresh flowers an a vase. I must admit that I don’t really see the point of them myself, although I know that many people consider that they add their own beauty and colour to a room.
I dion’t know much about flowers and floristry. But I do know that flowers, once thay have been cut, don’t last for very long, even when they are placed in water. They soon shrivel up and die.
We’ve just read what Jesus said about the vine plant. The vine was a very important and familiar plant to the people of Jesus’ day. It was an important source of nutrition and was grown everywhere. Let’s hear again what he said:-
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 ue abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
Flowers in a vase only last a few days because they are cut off from their roots, unable to get nutrition from the soil. They are only part of the plant .Flowers in pots last much longer because they are still whole plants, firmly planted in the soil, with roots digging deep, with sap rising from the roots to all parts of the plant.
Indeed, any part of a plant that is seperated, cut off from the main stem and roots soon withers and dies as it is seperated fron its source of life. This is true of the vine plant as much as it is of a daffodil. Branches that are cut off the main stem become useless, they are unable to grow any grapes and the only thing that they are fit for is fuel for the fire. Branches that are left attached to the main stem, however, still receive the life-giving sap and are able to keep growing, producing precious grapes.
That is how Jesus described the relationship between himself and his disciples, which included those of us who belong to him today as much as it does the orginal group. The relationship is an extemely close one.
I am the vine, ye are the branches.
I have read and heard this passage many, many times, but it is only when I was preparing for today that it struck me how close a relationship this really describes. It is obvious and I don’t know how I managed to miss it all these years, but the branches, are, in fact, part of the plant. They are not something extra that has been added on, but they are an integral part of the plant, just as much as the main stem is. Jesus is describing a situation in which those who believe in him are part of him, so closely connected that it does not make sense to think about them without also thinking about him. A relationship in which a believer cannot be underrstood without Christ, in which nothing makes sense in our lives as Christians without him.
If we are truy branches of the vine, that is Christ, everything we say, and do, and are, comes from him and the life that he gives. All that we need, all we can accomplish in our spiritual lives comes from the live-giving power that he gives us, not our own resources, as a branch does not have its own resources apart from the main stem. The role of the branches of the vine is to produce fruit, the fruit they produce is grapes. As branches of the vine we are also in place to produce fruit. Obviously this is not grapes, but spiritual fruit. Lives and characters that show the resemblence of Jesus. Particularly those attributes described as being the fruit of the Spirit in Galations 5:22-23:-
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. Gal 5:22-23
That is what is expected of us. That is what our lives as disciples of Jesus is to be like. Indeed we are given dire warnings that if we do not produce fruit we will be cut off the vine, as useless branches. Our lives, if we are joined to Christ must be fruitful lives.