How does a branch bear fruit? By trying its best and working hard? By doing its very best? No, a branch cannot bear fruit by itself. If you see a branch lying by the side of the road and bring it home will you see fruit form, grow and ripen on it? Never! A branch only bears fruit when it is attached to the fine. Actually the vine produces the fruit, the branch just displays it. It manifests itself on the branch, but is produced within the vine itself. The roots and trunk supply the branch with what it needs to produce fruit.
That was common knowledge to anyone in Jesus’ day, so that is the analogy Jesus used when explaining to His disciples that they needed Him to produce fruit. It was late Thursday night, April 2, 33 AD, a few hours before the crucifixion. Jesus knew His time with His disciples was almost at an end so He wanted His last teaching opportunity to really count. So He uses this final opportunity to again make sure they knew the importance of staying in close contact with Him in order to produce spiritual fruit for the Kingdom.
The meaning is clear: Jesus’ branches (disciples) need to stay in close contact with Him in order for Him to produce fruit through them. We can’t do anything on our own, only through Him. Salvation is all by Him, so is the fruit we produce as we live for Him. A branch not in direct contact with the vine is useless. It can be a mile from the vine or a thousandth of a Millimeter. The distance doesn’t mater. Any removal at all, no matter how small, and the sap doesn’t flow so fruit isn’t produced. Without God’s Spirit freely flowing in us we won’t be able to produce the fruit of the Spirit.
How can we tell if we are in direct contact or not? That’s easy. When we spend time in prayer and Bible study, worship and service, and when we make sure all our sins are confessed and under the blood, then we are assured we are filled with His Spirit. We will then find we have an unconditional love for God, family, self and others. We will have a joy despite circumstances and be at peace with God and others no matter what is going on around us. We will be patient in trials and our thoughts and actions will be characterized by kindness, goodness and gentleness. Our faith in God will grow and so will our loyalty and devotion to Him. We will have Spirit-control in all areas of life. In effect, we will be growing in spiritual maturity. He does all the work – we just stay close and allow Him to work in us. That certainly isn’t hard, is it. It’s all available if we allow Him to do it.
John 15:1-8 “I 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 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, 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. 5 “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. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is 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 given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
Of these 9 fruit of the Holy Spirit, which do you need most in your life? Why?
Write them down and pray every morning that God would fill you with His Spirit and produce these fruit in you. When a need arises during the day pause and ask for His fruit to be manifest at that time.
(If I can answer questions or offer personal counsel, or if you would like a free copy of my Spiritual Warfare Handbook, email me at Jerry@ChristianTrainingOrganization.org or download it from http://sw.christiantrainingonline.org/. My next book, Spiritual Warfare in the Bible, which is a more advanced treatment of spiritual warfare, is also available there for free.)