Summary: Since Jesus is the Vine and we are the branches, we are to believe in him and abide in Jesus therefore producing fruit, which is the character of Christ (love, joy, etc.) and helping others know Christ.
During Lent we have been looking at what Jesus said about himself not what other people think, but what he actually said according to an eye witness his disciple John. Specifically, these are Jesus’ seven “I am” statements. Through each statement Jesus revealed a little more about who he really was, what his purpose was on earth, and how we are supposed to respond to him.
Last week we focused on Jesus’ statement, “I am the Light of the world” and how he is God’s very presence in our dark world. We need to let the light of Jesus Christ enter every dark area of our life. I had us imagine our life without Christ is like a house with many rooms in pitch blackness with the lights turned off. Jesus is on the front porch knocking on the door, desiring to come into our darkness, into our life. It is our choice to let him in, but what Jesus really wants is to allow his light to infiltrate every room in the house, every area of our life. Expose the darkness of our sin and past skeletons so we can seek forgiveness and experience true healing.
1. Jesus is the True Vine
For this weeks message I am going to assume we have allowed Jesus into our life, into every room or every area of our life, and has exposed some of those dark corners so we can confess them, ask God’s forgiveness, and begin the process of healing. We may be tempted to believe this is the goal of the Christian life, to experience this healing in our life, in our relationship with God, in our relationship with others, but actually it is only the beginning of God’s work within us. God has more in store for us. This is why Jesus said to his disciples, “I am the true vine.” Jesus used a common agricultural sight in Jerusalem, the grape vine because he wanted to illustrate what life with Jesus is meant to be like.
2. We Should Naturally Produce Fruit
In other words a life in Jesus is meant to produce fruit. God created the grape vine to produce what? Grapes. Its purpose is not to produce a lot of leaves to look pretty. As people who have invited Jesus into our life our purpose is the same, we are designed to produce fruit. The evidence of our relationship with Jesus is not only the healing we receive in our life, but also the fruit we bear.
A. Consequences of not bearing fruit
In fact Jesus said those who did not produce fruit would be cut off from the vine, and thrown into the fire because it was obvious there was something wrong with the branch, perhaps it was diseased, or perhaps it had begun pulling away from the vine. Curiously, a grapevine branch can survive and produce foliage for a while after it has been severed, but it cannot produce fruit unless it remains connected to the vine.
What are the fruits we are meant to produce?
B. Fruit of others getting to know Jesus
One type of fruit the Scriptures indicate we are meant to produce is spreading the Good News of Jesus to others, helping others get to know Jesus. Jesus used other agricultural ideas for this too such as scattering and planting seeds.
C. Fruit of godly character
But the primary imagery of fruit in this chapter of John, is that our lives should produce qualities of God’s character, the two specifically mentioned here are love and joy. The Apostle Paul referred to these qualities as the fruits of the Spirit mentioned in Gal. 5:22-23:
Gal. 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.
These are the measurements of fruitfulness in our life. Fruitfulness is not measured by how many times I have been to church in the last month, how many passages of Scripture I have memorized, if I read the Bible all the way through last year, or if can I find the book of Habakkuk in 5 seconds or less. Don’t get me wrong I think worship and reading and memorizing scripture are very important parts of a Christian life, but they are not God’s measurement of a fruitful life. Unfortunately, Christians have become good at judging other Christians based on worship attendance or scripture knowledge while God is measuring our fruitfulness, how much we reflect His characteristics in our life, with love being the most important thing. In verse 12 of our passage Jesus said, “Love each other as I have loved you.” He concludes our passage this morning by saying “16 I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit-- fruit that will last…17 This is my command: Love each other.” The evidence of our relationship with Christ is how much we love others. Jesus set the standard by demonstrating his love for you and me by dying for us, taking our sin upon himself. Jesus said the greatest example of love is when we lay our life down for another (15:13). Likewise Jesus said, in him, we have joy and our joy has been made complete (v. 11).