Summary: In order to bear real spiritual fruit we must abide in the vine, Christ.
This summer I want to take you through the “Fruit of the Spirit” as found in Galatians 5:22-23. We will memorize these two verses, and each Sunday we’re going to discuss a different fruit, but before we do that I think it’s important to look at the source of that fruit and what Jesus says is required to bear this spiritual fruit.
Just a little background here. In Israel, grapevines were very common, much like we would see in central California, they represented Israel as a chosen people. In fact there were vines on their coins, and often at the Jerusalem gates there were vines carved into the stone.
He says at the end of Chapter 14 “Rise, let us go from here.” They were on their way out of the city to the Garden of Gethsemane, so it’s very likely that he sees these vines on the gates and uses them as an object lesson. You could think of the vine much like we would consider the maple leaf, a symbol of our country that everyone knows.
I. The Vine
First I would have you see that the vine represents:
A. The Trinity (vv 1, 3, 4, 5 ,7)
In verse 1 Jesus says he is the true vine, meaning that they no longer need the symbol of the vine, it is now here in person, the source or creator of them as a people group. The Father is the vinedresser, in other words Jesus is a vine that has completely surrendered to the Father and allows Him to do whatever he desires with the vine to make it produce fruit.
You could also say that if Jesus is the vine, God the Father is the root, and then when he speaks about branches, he is not only talking about Christians, but also the Holy Spirit, because every true Christian has the Holy Spirit in them. So here in the grape plant we have the Trinity represented, and I will remind you that Jesus has made us an imperfect part of the Trinity by having the Holy Spirit dwell within us.
But the whole point of this plant is to produce fruit, grapes. Now let’s just skip verse two for a moment and look at verse three where he says we are already clean because of the Word. He means we are already saved, washed clean in the Father’s eyes if we have believed the word he has spoken to us. We’re clean, but do not yet necessarily bear fruit.
If you have a grape plant and just let it grow by itself, the branches will just droop and grow along the ground in the dirt. They will produce no fruit because they don’t get any sunlight and the grapes can’t hang. They have to be lifted up and put on a trellis or wire or something to keep them off the ground. Jesus has now lifted us up and cleaned us through his blood and now we are ready to grow and produce fruit.
Verse 4, “Abide in me”, live in me, stay with me, keep to my teachings, stay in relationship with me. My parents had a grapevine in the backyard. They just let it grow and some of the branches grew up and intertwined around this big evergreen tree about 20 feet in the air, others grew through the cedar hedge that was beside it. Some of these branches must have been forty feet long, but they never produced any grapes.
In fact the only grapes I ever saw on this plant were hidden underneath, out of the sun very close the original vine. But they were very small and sour because they didn’t get much light, and these long fruitless branches probably took most of the water and nutrients to keep themselves alive and growing fruitlessly. As I read this verse it occurred to me that these long branches seemed to be trying to get away, to not abide in the vine, but were reaching, searching for something else.
They were attached to the vine but straying away in search of something else, to fulfill some other purpose, because it was certainly not to produce fruit. Only the ones that stayed close to the vine produced any fruit, but even the quality of their fruit was affected by the other branches that were wandering off.
These rogue branches do not represent nonbelievers, but believers who wander away, do not abide in Jesus, and do not produce fruit. This is confirmed by what he says in the first verse of the next chapter, “I have said all these things to keep you from falling away.”
Verse 5 then says if you abide in me you will produce fruit, but if you don’t you can do nothing, meaning nothing of any spiritual value. These rogue branches were growing to no where, I suppose thinking they were maybe going to find something, but in the end they were completely useless as grape branches, in fact they probably harmed the non grape plants they were wrapping around more than they were helping anything.