The Vine and the Branches
15 “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[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.
Created to Bear Fruit – John 15
I. The vineyard belongs to God
John chapter 4
34 Jesus explained, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months until the harvest’? I tell you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are ripe for harvest.
36 Already the reaper draws his wages and gathers a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for; others have done the hard work, and now you have taken up their labor.”
There is no mistaking this principle. Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.” … At the very beginning of the passage, he says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” My Father is the vine dresser. He is the owner of the vineyard.
It seems all of us are born with selfish instincts. It doesn’t take long for a toddler to learn a couple of powerful, one-word sentences.
Have you been amazed at the feelings of ownership a toddler can have? If he gets his grubby little hands on an empty, plastic butter dish, it won’t matter what Mom intended for the dish. “MINE!!!” screams the selfish little man, and the battle is on. It wouldn’t matter if the object were a piece of trash, or a priceless work of art. Once his hands are on it, it’s “MINE!”
How ridiculous. Little children can’t comprehend the value of things, or that someone worked hard to buy a work of art. Children can’t understand responsibility, time, earnings, or value. But they immediately understand the concept of possessions.
We don’t grow out of it just because we have a third birthday. By the time a person is 30, or 50, or 70, he has usually had a chance to look up to the heavens, curl his grubby little fingers into a tiny fist, and say, “But God, it was MINE!”
“But God, that was my good health. It was mine. I want it back. I don’t want the disease. I’m tired of the way I feel. I’m scared of the surgery. I’m sick of the treatments. It’s not fair that it costs this much. God it was my health … it was MINE!”
“But God, I earned that money … why did the stock market have to do that, now? That was my retirement … It was MINE!”
“But God,” says the man by the fresh grave … “she was mine.”
“But God,” says the mother staring at the empty room of her 18-year-old son. “He was just a little boy, and I liked him that way … he was mine.”
“But God,” says the young adult, “this was my future. I planned it. I worked for it. I went to school for it. I’ve made the promotions. This was all mine. I don’t want to change in midstream.”
“But God,” says the church member, “I gave years of my time to that church. I gave thousands of dollars, and more sweat than I could count. Now it’s changing. It’s not what it was. God, this was my church, and I want it back.”
“No,” says God to the 2-year-old in all of us, “it wasn’t yours at all. She wasn’t. He wasn’t. The church wasn’t yours. You’re not even yours! It all belongs to me, for I am God.”
From the moment God issued the first of his Ten Commandments, he told us that he was a jealous God, that he would tolerate no other gods, that he would never relinquish his right to be God. In the vineyard, we find another opportunity to realize that God is in control, God is in charge, and we are not. We cannot find our purpose without realizing our place.
Obviously, in a garden, the branch doesn’t tell the vine what to do. On a farm, the plants don’t tell the farmer how to get the job done. Can you imagine a plant telling the gardener, “NO! I’ll do it my way!” No, the gardener knows best for the plants, and cultivates, works, cuts, removes, fertilizes, waters, covers, sprays … for very good reasons. And a good plant simply trusts the gardener.
There may be no harder principle to put into practice for many believers than this first one. We all tend to be control freaks. We feel better if we’re in control. If four adults are in the car, usually at least three people are thinking: “I should be driving.”
When it comes to this spiritual notion of bearing fruit, the bad news is that the Lord demands that you release control. There is no option. You and I have no more right to tell God how to do His business than a plant has a right to give us instructions. It just doesn’t work that way. So that’s the bad news. You have to give up control.
The good news? That means you don’t have to carry the weight of being in control! You don’t have to carry the weight of the branch! Your only job is to bear fruit.
II. God wants as much fruit as possible from your life
It’s impossible to miss. Your job is to “bear fruit.”
Of the major application points in the lesson Jesus was giving, this one is overwhelmingly simple. Your purpose is to “bear fruit,” and the mission of your life is to discover how you’re to go about that process.
This sermon is an excellent opportunity to ask the question: “God, why was I born?” This is the season to look hard at the question, to find the answer – if you’ve not already found it – and to do exactly what Jesus asked. Bear fruit!
III. Bearing fruit is a life-long effort
Though we may have assumed “bearing fruit” relates only to evangelism, this idea is not reserved only for the single individual who might hear a person pray a prayer of salvation, or the single person who might have the privilege of baptizing a new convert. Everyone in a church plays a role in “bearing fruit,” with each person exercising his or her God-given gifts.
People with the gift of evangelism must be about their work of bearing evangelistic fruit. But what about the teachers of Christians, or those with the gift of hospitality? What about those gifted to work with small children, who are too young to “accept Christ” right now, or those who are Christian senior adults, who accepted Christ long ago? Do they get no credit for “bearing fruit?” what about those with the gift of prophecy, who have a way of counseling that is blunt, biblical, and wonderfully healthy?
Bring Forth Fruit
Scripture Lesson: John 15:16
16 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
As Jesus continues talking with His disciples, He points out that He has chosen them. They did not chose Him as they think they did. What were they chosen to do? They were chosen to bear fruit, fruit that would remain. As you read further down in the chapter, Jesus explains He chose them out of the world. As a result, the world would hate them just as the world hated Him.
However, they were called to bring forth fruit. Even in an environment that did not like them and in an environment that wanted to see them fail, they were still called to bring forth fruit. What type of fruit were they to produce?
Many people connect this verse with the fruit of the Spirit that is listed in Galatians 5:22-23. It is very important that those 9 attributes listed in that scripture is apparent in our lives. When we walk in the Spirit our lives should exhibit love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. However, this is not the fruit that Jesus spoke of here since the disciples would not have been familiar with the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus explains the fruit that He is speaking of in the same verse. Let’s read it again.
16Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.
The fruit that Jesus speaks of here in verse 16 is the same as He spoke in verse 7. That fruit is the power of answered prayer. Whatsoever we ask of the Father in His name, He (the Father) may give it to us. This is repeated in verse 7 where He says “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.”
Our promise for today is the fruit that Jesus wants us to bear. God is not glorified by a bunch of empty words or unanswered prayers. He wants us to be fruitful and to experience manifestations to our prayers.
God has chosen me. He has chosen me to be fruitful. He has ordained me to be fruitful. I rejoice and I am grateful for the promise that whatsoever I ask of the Father in Jesus name, the Father will give it to me.