Summary: Who bears fruit?
33 "Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit. 34 "You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 35 "The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. 36 "But I tell you that every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment. 37 "For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned."
V.33. There are two things that immediately catches ones attention, facing this verse.
One of the questions is an old one: Is Christ the one who bears fruit in and by the believer, or is it the believer who bears fruit in and by Christ?
It may sound and seem as hair-splitting, - and especially in our time, where it does not mean so much what the Word of God really say, and we are Christians in “our own way”. But then you have not headed the word of Paul: “Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough?” (1 Cor. 5:6). In certain context this is really happening.
The first one will lead to that a human sees the needs to be dependent on living close to/in Jesus - because only to such a degree His form is shaped in me, I will bear fruit.
The other leads to thinking that when we now are Christians and Jesus has told us to bear fruit – ergo- let us do it! The pressure is then on us, in spite of all the pious assurances of being dependant of Jesus – the Spirit etc., and the result is unfortunately a lot of deeds, and activity that He has never asked us to do. And also He has never “had the opportunity” to take part in! And then we stand there before Him with all this, and ask Him to “bear fruit” for His kingdom, coming from our own fabrications. But the truth is that this is already fruit! – But from what tree?
We will try to stop here and listen to what Jesus says about this – but first: another thing that emerges for oneself by reading from this verse, is the consistently the Word show in the division between the old and the new man – the evil and the good – which ends in the very truth, of what us humans are concerned: “You must be born again.” (John 3:3-7).
It is exactly what Jesus points to: “You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good?” (v.34) – The mouth speaks of what the heart is filled off. And how can earthly things produce heavenly fruit? – It does not matter how much you strain yourself, you will not yield anything else than your nature. How can it flow anything from me, which in reality belongs to heaven, if not “the heaven is in my heart?”
That is what Jesus points to when He says: “Either make the tree good, and its fruit good,” etc. In other words do not try to change the tree! What is earthly can never be heavenly. It has to spring up something new – a new tree needs to be planted, which is different from the first one, and therefore bears another fruit.