How has knowing Christ personally changed your life? Do you have the desire to know Him better? to serve Him?
3 No one can be established through wickedness [acting out of our own will with no regard to God’s will], but the righteous cannot be uprooted.
To place our faith and trust in Jesus Christ, to pledge our lives to Him forever, is a permanent commitment. Yet, if we are not careful to follow closely, we can be drawn back into the ways of our old life, our old self. It doesn’t fit anymore and we are miserable after tasting eternal life and the goodness of our Savior, but the draw is still there. Jesus spoke to His disciples about this subject their last night together:
“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, 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.
What is He talking about?
- Israel was known as the Vine (Psalm 80:8-11, Isaiah 5:2, 7). Jesus was telling them that HE is the TRUE VINE. HE is the TRUE ISRAEL. The Gardener is God Himself. What an awesome revelation!
- The phrase, “cuts off,” is a secondary meaning for the Greek word. It’s primary meaning is, “to raise, take up, lift.” The meaning changes from removal of a non-producing branch to the tender care of one that has dropped down into the dust. The vinedresser picks it up, washes it, and ties it back up onto the vine trellis where it can be pruned and made even more fruitful. Jesus said that He had made them clean through the word spoken to them. We, too, can be made clean (our feet-see 13:6-10) through the word provided for us!
- Verse 4 is the part we tend to forget. We were never designed to do anything on our own, but with the Holy Spirit. It’s a fellowship, a partnership, a RELATIONSHIP. When we try to do things our way (the very definition of wickedness), it only messes everything up.
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.
- Verse 5 is a reiteration of what He just told them. Anytime in the Bible that something is repeated, it means that it’s important.
- “…like a branch that is thrown away and withers”- This phrase is a metaphor. We might get a clearer picture using coals in a fire. If we remove a coal from a fire and set it to the side, what happens to it? Eventually, it cools and goes out. But, what happens when we take the coal and put it back in the fire? It catches fire and glows again! This process is how we are when it comes to listening to the Holy Spirit.
- What was He expecting them to wish for? Verse 18 says, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you.” He promised that the Advocate, the Holy Spirit (see 14:25), who would never leave them and would guide them into all truth (16:13). They would know for what to ask, which leads us to the next verse.
- The fruit that they would bear is the manifestation of Jesus in them. What is Jesus like? He is loving, peaceful, joyful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and has perfect self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). He is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8). He is “zealous for His house,” (Psalm 69:9 and John 2:17) which is now us (1 Corinthians 6:19). Get the picture? Our mission is to find out what Jesus is like and be like Him. It’s called sanctification. It’s what the Holy Spirit does in us.
There is one more idea that I want us to consider. If the disciples didn’t remain with Jesus’ teaching, to what would they return? You guessed it: Judaism. The apostle Paul chastised the Galatians for doing just that:
6 I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. Galatians 1:6-7
1 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. 2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all.
6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:1-2, 6
Do we not do the same thing when we return to the vises and “securities” that we had before we came to Christ? Is our hope in our money, our family, or our health? NO! All of these things will pass away–or we will. Either way, only our relationship with Christ Jesus is eternal, so let’s put all of our time, effort, and resources into our heavenly account by remaining connected to the True Vine, which is Jesus.
Abba, may our hunger and thirst for You and Your Word become a mighty fire in our bones! Amen.