We reach the last of our “I am” sayings today, and our reading is John Chapter 15 verses 1 to 17.There are 2 key verses here, v.1, where Jesus says, ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.’ And v.5, where Jesus says, ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.’
Here is another example of Jesus using something fairly common and normal for the time, a vine plant with its fruit, to describe something really profound, about being in a relationship with Christ, about spiritually growing, about being spiritually fruitful.
There is much in this passage that is really comforting and uplifting, that disciples of Jesus are clean (v.3), that we are loved by Christ (v.9), that we are Jesus’ friends (v.14), that we are chosen by Him (v.16).
But there are also many challenges contained here too; that branches that are not fruitful are cut off (vs.2 & 6) and even those that are fruitful will be pruned (v.2) so they can be even more fruitful, which I take to be having to endure trials/difficulties allowed by our Heavenly Father in His wisdom and for our greater good. We have a vine in our back garden, and last winter I cut it back a little just to tidy it up, but Sue took it further, and pruned it back to almost nothing, brutal she was!! I thought it would never recover, but this summer it has grown back to the same size and in full leaf again.
What is being fruitful all about? 2 things come to mind. Firstly that we display the fruit of the Spirit in our lives as expressed in Galatians Chapter 5 verses 22-23, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…Secondly that our lives and witness are fruitful in that others are influenced by us, spiritual seeds are sown or grow in other people so that they explore faith, come to faith, grow in faith.
So the challenge is, how are you and I doing in this?
And the key tool to being fruitful is spelled out in vs.4-5, ‘Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. … Apart from me you can do nothing.’ It is a lesson I need to keep learning.
From our church address list, let us pray today for,- Terry & Dawn, Mary, Sharon’s Mum.