Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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. 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.” John 15:1, 2, 5
“I am the true vine,” Jesus said. Perhaps He had in mind the vines in the vineyards He and his disciples passed as they journeyed to Jerusalem. Maybe He remembered the vine symbolic of Israel depicted on the temple they’d passed. Or as they ate, did He look at the cupful of wine on the table before Him?
Jesus meant that He was not only the genuine vine but also the fulfillment of this symbol found in Scriptures. “The vineyard of the LORD Almighty is the nation of Israel, and the people of Judah are the vines he delighted in. And he looked for justice, but saw bloodshed; for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.” Israel didn’t bear the fruit God wanted (see Isaiah 5:1-7).
But Jesus would bear fruit for God. Not natural children—but spiritual children—for when “the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring” (Isaiah 53:10-11). Beginning with His disciples, Jesus’s offspring were fruit-bearers. We are too.
Note that we’re to bear fruit, not produce it. What’s the difference? Jesus’s mother, Mary, is an excellent example of a fruit-bearer. The angel told her, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.” When she asked how a virgin could conceive, the angel said the Holy Spirit would come upon her (See Luke 1:26-35 NASB). Mary couldn’t produce a child by herself. She had to bear Him—to accept, carry, give birth to Him.
Jesus said we can’t bear fruit apart from Him (15:4-5). As part of vine life, we must stay connected to Him. The Holy Spirit in us produces the fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). We accept, carry, and give birth to it.
Jesus told His disciples, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you” (John 15:16).
Are you trying to produce fruit by your own efforts? Stop it. God isn’t asking you to do anything by yourself. Bear the fruit you’ve been appointed to bear as part of vine life. If you’re not sure of what God has appointed you to bear, ask Him to show you.
What about those branches that were cut off (v. 2)? Can they be restored? Paul expressed his concern about Israel in Romans chapters 9-11. What else does a gardener do?
Read John 15:1-8. The Gardener prunes us so that we’ll be fruitful. See Galatians 5:16-21 for “branches” that need to be cut off. What is God pruning from your life?
Read Jude 1:20-25. How are we, as part of the vine, supposed to relate to others who are part of the vine?
For more on being united to Christ, see “Called to Abide.”
Nancy J. Baker
This devotion is part of a series on the I AM Names of Jesus.