Summary: Fruitful Christian living is a result of abiding in Christ.
JESUS, THE TRUE VINE
ILLUSTRATION United Parcel Service takes pride in the productivity of its delivery men and women. On average, a UPS driver delivers four hundred packages every working day. The company gets such high productivity by micromanaging the details of a deliveryman’s routine.
Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Robert Frank says: “With a battalion of more than 3,000 industrial engineers, the company dictates every task for employees. Drivers must step from their trucks with their right foot, fold their money face-up, and carry packages under their left arm.”
UPS “tells drivers how fast to walk (three feet per second) how many packages to pick up and deliver a day (400, on average), even how to hold their keys (teeth up, third finger).” “Those considered slow are accompanied by supervisors, who cajole and prod them with stopwatches and clipboards.” —Craig Brian Larson
Everyone is concerned about being productive – in your work, at home, in school, and even in the community. Our passage this morning talks about being spiritually productive. Last Sunday, our text told us how to have a satisfying and fulfilled life and that is by appropriating into our lives the Bread of Life – Jesus Christ.
Today, we are going to study the key towards spiritual vitality and productivity. John 15 is part of the Farewell Discourse and Jesus dealt with three relationships that involve the disciples: (1) their relationship with him (vv. 1-8), (2) their relationship with one another (vv. 9-17), and (3) their relationship with the world around them (vv. 18-27).
Our message this morning will be limited to (John 15:1-8). Read John 15:1-8. This passage talks about the relationships of the believers, who are the branches; with Jesus Christ, the true vine; and with God the Father, who is the gardener. Why did Jesus introduce himself as the True Vine?
Jesus called himself the true vine to differentiate himself from the Israelites. In the Old Testament, particularly Isaiah 5:1-7, God called Israel his vineyard. He planted them in a fertile hillside but when He looks for good grapes, He only found bad ones. As a result, God abandoned his vineyards.
Israel as the Vine of the Lord degenerated and become a wild vine because of their idolatry and disobedience of the Law. Now Jesus came to exemplify the true vine and to describe an abiding relationship between Him and the believers like the earlier relationship between Israel and God.
1. WHAT IS EXPECTED FROM THE RELATIONSHIP OF THE BRANCHES WITH THE VINE?
What was expected from the branches is to bear fruit, this is the reason the phrase bear fruit occurred 7-8 times in this passage. Being related to Jesus Christ should result to fruit bearing. What kind of fruit does Jesus expect from the believers? (See John 15:16)
Our Lord Jesus Christ said that we must bear fruit that will last. The eternal fruit that our Lord Jesus Christ expects from us are the following:
a. Christian character (See Galatians 5:22-23) – The fruit of the Spirit is Christ-likeness and these are the fruits that last to eternity. Are we becoming more like Christ on a daily basis as a result of our relationship with Christ?
b. Christian good works (See Colossians 1:10) - We are not producing fruit to please ourselves but to serve others. We should be the kind of people who “feed” others by our good works. Are there individuals benefiting from our relationship with Jesus Christ?
c. Christian mission (See Philippians 1:22) – Reaching out to others through evangelism and mission would produce eternal results. Genuine converts in Christ would meet again in the kingdom of God. Is there anyone in this world who would give credit to you for their salvation?
We need to ask ourselves if we are bearing fruit as expected. Otherwise, there is something wrong in our relationship with the True Vine.
Many of these things could be counterfeited by the flesh, but the deception would eventually be detected, for real spiritual fruits are embedded in the heart of the followers of Christ. Counterfeit spiritual fruits are superficial and will not last while Spirit-produced fruit will go on reproducing from one life to another.
Jesus gave two reasons the believers should be fruitful. (See John 15:8)
To glorify God. (v. 8) – Realize that God is the gardener. He planted the seed and nurtures them. What would you expect the gardener feels when the vine starts to bear fruit.
Obviously he will rejoice and observers will praise and honor him for what he has accomplished. In the same way, we give honor and glory to our God when our lives produce the fruit that he expects.
To prove our relationship with Christ. (v. 8) – Fruitfulness is evidence that we are disciple of Christ. No one can be related with Christ without being affected by Him. A true branch, united with the vine, will always bear fruit.