After teaching about the sower and the seed, I led our group in a study on John 15, learning exactly what Jesus had in mind when He spoke of producing “fruit”. Many people see the word “fruit” and just assume that it refers to the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians. It is not a bad assumption but in this case, as in Matthew 13, it is the wrong assumption. Jesus is very clear on the subject of what the fruit is in Matthew 13 as well as in John 15. Let’s dive in and see what we can learn.
I. Jesus teaches us to stay connected to the source
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away ; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches ; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing . 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. 7 “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. (John 15)
In order to produce fruit for the Lord, or better said, in order for us to be used by God so that He can produce fruit in us and through us, I must stay connected to Jesus Christ the same way that a branch must stay connected to a vine. The question then is, how do I stay connected to the source, Jesus Christ? Some will say that you have to pray more and walk in obedience. Others will say that it in a vague way, “it’s through a personal relationship” yet they will not give any tangible actions. Jesus does not leave it up to interpretation. He clearly states that we stay connected to the source by abiding in His Word and by having His Words abide in us. To abide literally means “to take up residence, to live in”. How can we practically abide in the Word of God? Psalm 1 gives us the answer, by meditating on His Word day and night. The verb “to meditate” has a 3 part meaning; to study, to ponder, and to talk about. If you live in God’s Word day and night then His Words will live in you and direct you as you make decisions. His Words will be used by the Holy Spirit to teach you what is right and what is wrong, encouraging you to choose right. Do you live in the Word of God in order to learn how to live your daily life? Does the Word of God impact the way that you make decisions? Where do you go when seeking advice on making major decisions in life such as; whom to marry, what profession to have, where to live etc. ? This is the way we connect to the source, Jesus Christ, and this is how we stay connected. Is this a way of life for you?
II. Jesus calls us to produce much fruit
That sounds nice, the problem is, you cannot produce the fruit that God wants. You do not have the ability. But, the good news is, if you stay connected to the source then He (Jesus) will produce the fruit through you. Christ does not just call us to be saved and wait for heaven until we die (living as we please). In fact, He calls us to be discipled (disciples). Part of the process of discipleship is salvation. When we accept His free gift of salvation, in the context of discipleship, He transforms us and works in us and through us to produce much fruit. In fact, Jesus teaches in this passage that in order to glorify God, you have to produce much fruit. The beauty of it is that He calls us to produce it and then produces it through us so that He cannot help but get the glory. The question is, are you producing much fruit for the Lord? Are you putting yourself in a position to be used by Christ so that He can produce the fruit through you? Do I realize that if I am not producing fruit then I am good for nothing? I know that is a hard teaching but it is exactly what Jesus taught. In another place in Scripture, John 6, Jesus was speaking to the multitudes and He shared a very difficult message. Most of those who were following Him turned and walked away from Him. He did not chase them. He let them go. He actually turned to His disciples and asked, “don’t you want to go with them?”. They decided to stay connected to the source and submit to Jesus Christ’s teaching instead of judging Him. What will you do?
III. What is the fruit to which Jesus refers?
16 “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you. (John 15)
The verb “remain” in verse 16 is the same verb that is translated “abide” in the first 8 verses of the chapter. God wants us to produce fruit that will abide. If you take a quick look at the word “abide” from the previous verses, what or who is to abide?
- disciples are to abide in Christ
- disciples are to abide in the Word
- Christ abides in the disciples so that they produce fruit
If we put all of this together, the disciples are to produce fruit (other disciples) who abide. As the new disciples abide in Christ, they will produce more disciples who abide and the process keeps repeating. As a believer, in order to glorify God, Jesus wants you to produce disciple-making disciples. Are you doing it?Are you teaching people God’s Word so that they can live It and teach It to others? May the Lord help us stay connected to the source so that He can produce disciple-making disciples through us so that one day, when we stand before Him, we will hear, “well done good and faithful servant”. That is the desire of my heart for me and for my disciples.