Grow fruit to glorify God
Connection to Jesus
In John 15 God is the Gardener and as the Gardener, he cuts off non-fruit bearing branches – branches that were in the vine (Jesus) but are not bearing fruit. But then for the branches that are fruit-bearing he prunes (he shapes, disciplines, causes circumstances to be such) to make them even more fruitful. An experienced viticulturist is able to read the health of the Vines. Once vines are planted, apart from watering, fertilising and pest control, the main work in a vineyard – aside from harvest – is pruning. Why do they spend so much time pruning/tending the vines? To get the very best fruit they can get; quality fruit.
Jesus is the true vine and wants his followers to remain in him, connected to him, grafted into and only him, bearing fruit by doing so. Connected into Jesus, of course, means that no-one or anything else is our primary source. He alone is IT! Conversely, there is no fruit-bearing when there is disconnection to the vine, and one might say no ‘life’. So what does this remaining look like and why is it so important today?
Remaining in Jesus means living by his teaching
Knowing him means that prayer, reading the Word, fellowship, serving and worship are not activities and disciplines that are pushed to the margins of our week, remaining in Jesus and living by his teaching means these things are the totality of our lives. Throughout John’s gospel you’ll find references to people who have shown superficial interest in Jesus but never fully believed. In that setting Jesus was preparing his disciples for what lay ahead, the pressures they would face, and that those hard times (pruning!) would draw them into a more robust union with Jesus (more fruitful!).
Healthy, fruit-bearing branches aren’t going to get cut-off, when we bear fruit we’re pruned by God the gardener (15:2b) to be better fruit, so that’s where our focus needs to be. Therefore, how we are connected to the Vine is not what Jesus is teaching here, that we must be attached, is.
Why is remaining important?
Life finds its dependence in Christ alone, he is our all. Remaining is important (eternally vital!) because it has to do with our union with the person of Christ. In the melee of the busyness and circumstances of life, many of us struggle to nurture a connection to the most important life source of all, Jesus. We blame so many things don’t we, tiredness, work, family, illness, all mitigating and real factors. However, if he is our way, truth and life, we do what we need to do to protect and nurture the relationship with him as the source of all life, to be in his presence, to experience his joy as our joy.