As a boy growing up, I was very fortunate because my grandmother lived right next door. Living out in the country as we did, my grandmother loved to grow all kinds stuff to can, pickle and freeze. She would even bury beets and other things in dirt in her root cellar or canning room. She had an amazing garden where she grew almost every vegetable you could think of. She also raised strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries rhubarb and horseradish. She raised chickens and ducks for eggs and meat. And she also had a number of fruit trees.
As a kid, I was totally amazed by her apple trees. Why? Because some of them bore three different kinds of apples on each tree. You would have an early, mid-season and late variety all on one tree.
I am amazed that you can actually take a branch off one apple tree and graph it on to another. What you do is this. In the spring, just a the tree starts to wake up after the winter and the buds just barely start to swell, you take a tender branch or shoot off a tree you want to graph on to another and you whittle the cut end into a little wedge shape. Then on you host tree, you cut off a portion of a branch close to the main trunk that is a similar size to your new branch. Make a split in the remaining portion of the branch attached to the tree. Then you push your new branch wedge into the split branch of the host, you bind it with string, and coat the entire seam with something called Tree Wound Dressing, which is a tar like substance. Eventually the new branch will begin to sprout and you can remove the dressing about 6 weeks, and wa-la, you have a tree that will eventually bear two different kinds of apples. The same can be done with other fruit and citrus trees as well as with grape vines.
In Romans chapter 11, the Apostle Paul refers to the fact that the Jews, because of their unbelief and unfaithfulness, have like branches, have figuratively been broken off from the kingdom of God. And we Gentiles who believe and accept Jesus have figuratively been grafted in.
In John 15, the Apostle John records an interesting discourse of Jesus which I would like to read. Read John 15:1-14 “ am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes[a] so that it will be even more fruitful.3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.4 Remain in me, as I also 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.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.14 You are my friends if you do what I command.” (NIV)
So here in this text, Jesus refers to us as branches. As I have mentioned in the last two lessons, in this series of lessons I have want to share with you some of the different ways Jesus and the Bible refers to us, or what we are called figuratively as Christians.
In doing so I would hope that you would not only see how important you are, I also hope that these references will open your eyes to some roles and responsibilities we have as we live out our life as a Christians.
Here in John 15, figuratively speaking, Jesus said, “I am the true vine.” We are the branches, and Father God is the Gardener.
Now what’s the significance of all this: Well Jesus said…
.. that if we remain in Him (that is attached Him) and He remains in us (that is if we have an ongoing interactive relationship with Him) He said that we will bear MUCH fruit.
In verse 4 He said that no branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Likewise, we cannot bear His fruit (or spiritual fruit) unless we remain in Him.
Now what kind of fruit is He referring to? That’s the mystery that many of us would like revealed. But here I believe the text reveals that mystery.
Just as nutritious fluid, or sap flows from the vine to the branches, Jesus reveals something here to us, He said 9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command.”
Just as God poured out His Spirit on Jesus, Jesus also poured out His Holy Spirit on us to help develop and nurture us just like sap gives life to it’s branches. I believe the fruit He is referring to is, God like Love and all expressions of that love so that others may enjoy and benefit from that fruit.
He wants us to bear the fruit of Love. This fruit of love is the fruit that will bring glory to the Father.
But He also goes on to say that apart from Him we can’t do anymore than any branch that has been detached or broken off. Branches that separate themselves and try to be self serving will eventually wither and die, and will be cast into the fire.
So if we remain in Him we…….
– #1… Will continue to grow
– #2 You will begin to bear fruit that is important to Him and beneficial to others.
– #3. Vs. 2 says that even if you bear a little fruit He said the Father will help you and prune you so that you can bear even more fruit.
– #4. And by bearing fruit you will bring Glory to the master Gardener, to Father God. (How productive a farm is, is a reflection on the farmer. Others commend and admire a good productive farm. How much we love and how fruitful we are by the good works we do, will likewise put God and the Christian name in a good light in the eyes of those living in this world.
– #5. And one last benefit of remaining in Him and bearing the fruit that He would have us bear; In verse 11 Jesus tell us, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
You always feel good or better when you bear the fruit you are meant to bear, when you do what you are meant to do.
An envious, jealous, unforgiving, selfish, mean, or nasty life or attitude is not the fruit we are meant to bear; and doing so will never give you this kind of joy. Whereas being generous, gracious, forgiving, showing mercy, being helpful, and gentle, encouraging, and expressing love like this to others will not only bring you joy and make you feel complete, it will also benefit others and bring Glory and Honor to your Father in Heaven.
So my continued encouragement is to remain in Him no matter what.
Let the master Gardener nurture and prune you. Let Him cut away those things that you should not be doing or that are not beneficial for your life.
Continue to nurture a relationship with Him now that you have been grafted into His family. (Some graphs don’t take. Some dry up and fall off.)
Learn His word and obey His commands for they are of the Spirit and give life not only to you but also to others who enjoy your fruit.