Summary: The parable of the Vine and the branches gives us the assurance that however weak and frail we are, God the Trinity can and will produce beautiful fruit in our lives. It is not a question of will power or any kind of self effort. All that is needed is con
Opening illustration: Suppose you walked into your kitchen one morning and found Jesus sitting at the table. What would you do? Would you say: "Jesus! I’m thrilled to see You! I just wish I had time to talk, but right now I’m running late for work. When I get home tonight, we’ll have a nice visit"? Later, you rush into the house from work to pick up your son for his Little League game and dash back out. But when you return from the game, the children need your attention, the laundry needs folding, and before you know it, you’re just plain too tired to talk with Him. You crawl into bed and fall asleep. Of course, you probably think if Jesus were to physically come to your house, you’d stop everything to sit with Him, right? Maybe you would. But maybe you wouldn’t. But when you neglect to spend time with Christ in His Word and prayer, you give Him the impression that He’s not important to you. Staying in daily communion with Jesus is the # 1 priority of the Christian life. It’s the key that opens every door to fruit-bearing, a blessing to this life and the next.
Introduction: Jesus Christ is the Vine, the true Messianic Vine. The union of the human and Divine natures, and the fullness of the Spirit that is in him, resemble the root of the vine made fruitful by the moisture from a rich soil. Believers are branches of this Vine. The root is unseen, and our life is hid with Christ; the root bears the tree, diffuses sap to it, and in Christ is all supports and supplies. The branches of the vine are many, yet, meeting in the root, are all but one vine; thus all true Christians, though in place and opinion distant from each other, meet in Christ. Believers, like the branches of the vine, are weak, and unable to stand but as they are borne up. The Father is the Husbandman. Never was any husbandman so wise, so watchful, about his vineyard, as God is about his church, which therefore must prosper. We must be fruitful. From a vine we look for grapes, and from a Christian we look for a Christian temper, disposition, and life. We must honor God, and do good; this is bearing fruit. The unfruitful are taken away. And even fruitful branches need pruning; for the best have notions, passions, and humors, that require to be taken away, which Christ has promised to forward the sanctification of believers, they will be thankful, for them. The word of Christ is spoken to all believers; and there is a cleansing virtue in that word, as it works grace, and works out corruption. And the more fruit we bring forth, the more we abound in what is good, the more our Lord is glorified. In order to fruitfulness, we must abide in Christ, must have union with him by faith. It is the great concern of all Christ’s disciples, constantly to keep up dependence upon Christ, and communion with him. True Christians find by experience, that any interruption in the exercise of their faith causes holy affections to decline, their corruptions to revive, and their comforts to droop. Those who abide not in Christ, though they may flourish for awhile in outward profession, yet come to nothing. The fire is the fittest place for withered branches; they are good for nothing else. Let us seek to live more simply on the fullness of Christ, and to grow more fruitful in every good word and work, so may our joy in Him and in his salvation be full.
What will it take to bear fruit?
1. Pruning (v. 2): Many Christians have a great experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit, and they are excited as they find themselves growing in new directions. But then suddenly the Vine Dresser comes and brutally prunes away the growth that is not needed. "Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit" (John 15:2). When this happens it is easy to get upset and discouraged. "I thought I was doing so well and now most of what I was excited about has been taken away from me. This exciting emphasis on Christian life does not work out in practice."
Now you can see that this is a parable about the three Persons of the Trinity. For effective fruit bearing we need our structural faith connection with Jesus the Son of God. But we also need the vital inner life of the Spirit coming in to do in us what we could never do by our own will power. And we need to welcome the painful pruning of the Father. On the one hand He is as tender as the most loving of parents, but He also cares about our effectiveness in producing an abundance of good fruit. He will not let us dissipate our energy in all directions. So when the pruning knife cuts us back, rather than fuss and cry, and try to regain what we have lost, we relax in the Father’s care.