Having finished their last Passover meal together, Jesus led his disciples out of the upper room, down the steps built into the outside of the house, and toward the nearest gate on the east of the city. The streets were empty as the small band made their way out of Jerusalem and across the Kidron Valley. Turning north, Jesus headed toward the Mount of Olives. The moon was bright and made it easy to see the way.
As they walked along in silence, they passed by a vineyard planted on the side of the hill. Jesus stopped beside one of the grape vines and called His disciples to Him. Pointing to the thick, healthy vine, Jesus said, “Come here. As you look at this grape vine, consider this important truth. I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. As the true vine, I produce lots of branches, but some of them produce fruit and some do not. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, the vinedresser takes away.”
This caused the disciples to look at one another with concern.
“Every branch that bears fruit,” Jesus continued, “He prunes so that it will produce even more fruit.”
In the moonlight Jesus could tell by the looks on the faces of His friends that they were concerned by His words. Earlier in the evening Jesus had declared to all of them that they were going to fail Him on this night, and none of them were sure how they fit in this illustration. To reassure them, Jesus said, “It’s going to be okay. I have made you clean and ready for God’s work by telling you the words of life. I have done what I can to set you apart for the Father’s service. Now you must do your part.”
“What’s that, Lord?” John asked.
“Your job is to abide in Me,” Jesus returned. “Remain in Me.”
“But, Lord,” Philip said, “how can we do that? During the Passover You said You were leaving us.”
“I am leaving your physical presence, but you are not to leave Me. You will do this by remembering My words and My teachings. Hang on to them and let them be your life. Just like the branch can’t bear fruit unless it remains attached to the vine, getting all of its nourishment from the vine, even so none of you can bear fruit either unless you remain attached to Me. Don’t forget that I am the vine, you are simply the branches of the vine. But if you remain firmly connected with Me, relying on My words, My teachings, and My desires, that is how I will remain with you. Together we will bear much fruit. If you try to serve the Father apart from Me, I’m telling you right now, you will accomplish nothing. In fact, if anyone does not continue to remain in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up.” At this point Jesus looked down and kicked several of the dead grape branches that had been cut off a few days before. “Then they gather the dried up, useless branches and throw them in the fire, and they’re burned.”
“Lord, we don’t want that to happen to us!” Thomas exclaimed.
“It won’t if you remain in Me and you let My words remain in you,” Jesus returned confidently. “If you stay close to Me and let My words and teachings be the guide for your life, then ask for whatever you want, and it will be done for you.”
“Is that how we bear fruit, Lord?” Matthew asked.
“Yes!” Jesus answered excitedly. “Yes, it is! You remain attached to Me, make My words the guide and pattern for your life, and then when the Helper, My Spirit, makes it clear to you what’s important to the Father and to Me, you start asking, and We will start answering. And you will be bearing fruit! Do you know what happens when you bear God’s fruit? You will glorify My Father, AND you will prove that you are truly My disciples.”
“So You and the Father will be producing the fruit through us. Is that right?” Andrew asked.
“Right,” Jesus returned. “As a branch, your only concern is to remain in the vine and get everything you need from it. It is the vine’s job to produce the fruit.”
Jesus could tell that His followers were encouraged by this, so He added, “Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Don’t leave My love. Remain in it always.”
“How do we do that?” Simon asked
“Love Me enough to know My words, understand My will, and make them the guide for your lives—that’s how you stay in My love. That’s exactly what I’ve done. I remain in the Father’s love because I love Him enough to let His will always guide My choices and decisions.
“When I let the Father’s words and will guide and direct My life, I am experiencing the greatest life with the greatest purpose and knowing the greatest joy I possibly can. The reason I told you all of these things is so that you will each experience this wonderful life with the Father and Me and that this amazing joy of Mine will fill you up!”
By Alan W. Harris
(Inspired by John 15: 1-11)