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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Sept. 28, 2007

  • 2007 Sep 28

Fruitfulness Explained: Abiding Sanctified

Conclusion continued from September 27th


JESUS USES A SOBERING IMAGE: The wood of the grape vine has the distinct characteristic that it is good for nothing. It is too soft for any purpose. At certain times of the year, it was laid down by the law that the people must bring offerings of wood to the Temple for the altar fires. But the wood of the grape vine was excluded. Wood pruned out of a vineyard was only useful for a bonfire. This completes the picture Jesus draws.


One of the sobering principles of the New Testament is that uselessness invites disaster. The fruitless branch is on the way to destruction.


A second truth: contact is the key to all of our spiritual life. Jesus lived connected to God. The secret of the life of Jesus was his contact with God; again and again he withdrew into a solitary place to meet Him. We must keep contact with Jesus. Connection takes planning. We must take deliberate steps to stay connected.


A final truth: any amount is sufficient. “To take but one example—to pray in the morning, if it be for only a few moments, is to have an antiseptic for the whole day; for we cannot come out of the presence of Christ to touch the evil things. For some few of us, abiding in Christ will be a mystical experience which is beyond words to express. For most of us, it will mean a constant contact with him. It will mean arranging life, arranging prayer, and arranging silence in such a way that there is never a day when we give ourselves a chance to forget him”. Don’t wait for a better time – seek Him now. Don’t put off for later and miss the blessing of this moment you can have with Him.

v. 5b “I AM the Vine and you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

When Jesus stopped to describe our daily relationship to Him in John 15, it was of utmost importance. The timing is unbelievable, just hours before the darkest night on earth. The cross and the grave were looming yet Jesus joyously looked ahead for the joy of being united with His disciples and us!


Think about something – when Jesus sums up the Christian life it is with this picture. We are a branch and everything in our life is connected to HIM! All we are and all we will ever be flows through Jesus. That is an awesome thought.


We live our lives from salvation onward attached to Jesus. Everything we say we say with Him, everything we see we see with Him, everything we do we do with Him. We are like Siamese twins, we are connected, attached, linked, and sharing His life.


Now look further, and what is amazing if you step back and look at John 15.1-8 is that no sin is in the picture. Jesus is describing us as we are, wearing His righteousness, and thus He sees us as without sin. The result is that Jesus is asking the Father to remove anything that hinders His life from being ours. Life is reduced to being either good or good for nothingness.


To be good branches for Jesus we need some constant help. This is the job of the Gardener, and God the Father assumes the role of the Gardener. He is always at work in our lives trimming, pruning, lifting, and promoting Christ-likeness. The explanation of John 14.21 is seen in John 15.1-7.


Jesus used this vine/branch metaphor for their understanding. But the importance of vineyards in the ancient world is difficult for modern readers to appreciate. Winemaking dates back to the earliest days of human history. Genesis records Noah as the first vineyard cultivator and winemaker, with unfortunate results (Gen 9:20 ff.). The production and consumption of wine was an economic mainstay for the farmers of Israel in Jesus’ day. Many Christians today do not drink wine, and most have little understanding of a working vineyard. Wine comes from the juice of the grapes produced by a grapevine. So what lessons was Jesus offering to His disciples that night and thus to us?


WE, LIKE BRANCHES, ARE UNFOCUSED BY NATURE: If left untrimmed, a grapevine will use its available energy to grow long woody branches and extend its territory, while producing a few meager bunches of grapes. Winemakers learned early on that grapevines could be tamed by vigilant pruning of branches so that comparatively few buds would be allowed to grow. What are you doing that God the Father is watching for just the right time to trim away from your life? It may be good in the sense of not being sin – but good for nothing in the light of eternity!


WE, LIKE BRANCHES, ARE FOCUSED BY THE GARDENER: When the trimming of the gardener is finished, the vine is forced to direct its life-giving sap into the production of grapes rather than territorial expansion. Under good conditions of both sufficient rain and plenty of sunshine, this resulted in heavy grape clusters and abundant grape juice for wine production. We go through seasons of being focused, by the Lord, back on why we are here.


These seasons usually follow retreats, they follow car accidents, they follow good messages we hear or read, they follow trips to the hospital, they follow times of Bible study and prayer, they follow the loss of a job, or they follow the death of loved ones or the diagnosis of a serious or even terminal illness. Are you focused yet?


WE, LIKE BRANCHES, ARE PRUNED FOR FRUITFULNESS: Major pruning was done in midwinter, when the vine would lose the least amount of its precious sap. This process of cleaning/ pruning the vineyard left a bare field with small stumps at the beginning of the spring growing season. In our lives it is the fall and early winter that often sees the most pruning. These are our later years when we have pain, sickness, limitations, and the most opportunity for growth in godliness. Are you enjoying God the Fathers work on your life?


BRANCHES ARE BURNED WHEN THERE IS UNNECESSARY WOOD: Farmers not only snipped off these old branches, but also hauled them away and burned them so the vines could grow unhindered from the mature stump each year. Effective vine dressing required that the farmer continue to prune through the growing season to keep the vine’s energy focused on a limited number of grape clusters.


Even today the best grapes are produced by developed vines, 12–40 years old, with deep, healthy root systems. God has much to burn in our lives. We busy ourselves often with everything but Him! Let your life get lean and focused and fruitful for Him.


Adaptations and quotations from Barclay, William, Daily Study Bible Series: The Gospel of John - Volume 2 Chapters 8-21 (Revised Edition), ( Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press) 2000, c1975.


Drawn from Bryant, Beauford H.; Krause, Mark S., The College Press NIV Commentary: John, (Joplin, Missouri: College Press Publishing Company) 1999, c1998


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