ALL-CHURCH FOCUS 2018 DEVOTIONAL

September 18th, Day 31 - John 15:1-17

start here

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5

 

Where are you trying to bear your own fruit in life? 


What spiritual practice could you set up to help you reconnect those areas to Jesus? 


How could regularly abiding in Jesus transform your daily experience of Him working through you? 

game on

Read John 15:1-17

 

With yesterday’s encouragement of Jesus sending the Helper, today’s passage needs no analogy. We see this beautiful image of a vine connected to branches. Some of these branches are bearing fruit while others are not. We also see this intense picture of the Gardener pruning and cultivating these branches that are connected to the vine. As we explore the responsibility that friends and disciples have when following Jesus, continue to keep in mind God’s faithfulness we looked at yesterday. The call of Christ may feel overwhelming. 


How am I, a mere human, supposed to accomplish all that God has for me? The answer lies in today’s passage – stay connected to the Vine!

 

As our church looks to connect to the Vine, consider what it looks like for you to bear the fruit of loving others.

your move

Let’s look to what God wants to say directly to you today through John 15:1-17


Scripture: Write down the verse or phrases God keeps bringing your eyes back to in today’s passage and why that could be.

 

Observation: Count how many times the word “abide” or “remain” is used. Write it here:______ Now look up the word “abide” in a dictionary or online. Write out its meaning below. 


Application: What are some small ways you can stay connected to the Vine throughout the week? Describe the difference in your life when you are abiding with Jesus and when you are going it alone.

 

Prayer: Ask the Holy Spirit to help you abide in Christ this week and to bring to mind any ways you can intentionally do so throughout your day so as to experience His love and be connected and fruitful.   

bonus round

Jesus' rich imagery of the vine and branches harkens back to a robust history of vineyards as symbols throughout Israel's history. Check out how Jesus skillfully adapted this centuries-old metaphor by reading this article! 



“I am the True Vine” (John 15:1) is the last of seven “I am” declarations of Jesus recorded only in John’s Gospel. These “I am” proclamations point to His unique divine identity and purpose. Jesus said, “I am the True Vine” to closest friends gathered around Him. It was only a short time before Judas would betray Him; in fact, Judas had already left to do his infamous deed (John 13:30). Jesus was preparing the eleven men left for His pending crucifixion, His resurrection, and His subsequent departure for heaven. He had just told them that He would be leaving them (John 14:2). Knowing how disturbed they would feel, He gave them this lovely metaphor of the True Vine as one of His encouragements.

Jesus wanted His friends, not only those eleven, but those of all time, to know that He was not going to desert them, even though they would no longer enjoy His physical presence. His living energy—His spiritual reality—would continue to nourish and sustain them just as the roots and trunk of a grape vine produce the energy that nourishes and sustains its branches while they develop their fruit. Jesus wanted us to know that, even though we cannot see Him, we are as closely connected to Him as the branches of a vine are connected to its stem. Our desire to know and love Him and the energy to serve Him will keep flowing into and through us as long as we “abide” in Him.

Jesus went on to remove any misunderstanding about what He meant (John 15:4). He said that no branch can even live, let alone produce leaves and fruit, by itself. Cut off from the trunk, a branch is dead. Just as a vine’s branches rely on being connected to the trunk from which they receive their energy to bear fruit, Jesus’ disciples depend on being connected to Him for their spiritual life and the ability to serve Him effectively. The fruit we produce is that of the Holy Spirit—love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22–23). Our source of life and spiritual fruit is not in ourselves; it is outside us, in Christ Jesus. We can live, live rightly, and serve Him effectively only if we are rightly connected to Him in a faith/love relationship.

Then Jesus underscored His point even more strongly by saying, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). This illustration of the vine and branches is no thoughtless generality or careless simile. It is absolute, stark reality. No believer can achieve anything of spiritual value independently of Christ Jesus. He also reminds us that there are some who are “in” Him who bear no fruit. But these are not, as some would suppose, true branches that just happen to be fruitless. All true branches bear fruit. Just as we know a healthy, living tree by the good fruit it produces, so do we recognize fruitless branches as having no connection to the True Vine. This is why Jesus tells us, “By their fruit you will know them” (Matthew 7:16–20). Those who do not produce good fruit are cut away and burned. The reference here is to apostates, those who profess to know Christ but whose relationship to Him is insincere. He neither called them nor elected them nor saved them nor sustains them. Eventually, the fruitless branches are identified as not belonging to the Vine and are removed for the sake of truth and the benefit of the other branches.

So, we depend on Jesus for everything, starting with our very life—“For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28)—and including our reconciliation with God through Him (Romans 5:10). No one can serve God effectively until he is connected with Jesus Christ by faith. Jesus is our only connection with the God who gave life and who produces in us a fruitful life of righteousness and service.


*This resource an excerpt from What did Jesus mean when He said, “I am the True Vine” (John 15:1)? by GotQuestions.org