Our lesson this week is going to continue our look at Teaching on Truth and Trials. In our lesson last week, we saw Jesus teaching the disciples about having faith in Him – the way, the truth, and the life – when their hearts were troubled. In last week’s lesson, I also began to talk about being in fellowship with the Lord as both the Father and Son are in fellowship with one another. Our lesson this is going to essentially continue on the thought of abiding in the Lord. This week’s lesson is being taught from John 15:1-8.
The True Vine
Again, this week we will see our lesson being taught from a familiar passage of scripture for us. I have definitely spoken from this chapter in the past about how the Lord is a vinedresser and will prune us. God, we should understand, prunes us out of His love for us.
Our lesson opens with John recording Jesus who taught that He, the only begotten Son, is the true vine and the Father is the vinedresser (v.1). When Jesus began to teach this lesson, it is believed that He and the disciples were making their way to Gethsemane, the garden where Jesus prayed prior to His arrest. As they passed the vines, Jesus began to teach one of His final lessons to the disciples.
So, what does Jesus mean by Him being the true vine? We are going to have to go further into this scripture to get a fuller understanding, but let us remember that this is also stemming from Jesus teaching the disciples that He is the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6). Let’s put our gardening knowledge to work as we see Jesus speak of the Father as being the vinedresser – a gardener – tending to the plants in His garden.
In fellowship with Christ
Now, when we look at the next verse of our lesson, Jesus tells us that there are branches that grow off Him, the true vine (v.2). When we think about plants, the only way that they grow is with sunlight, water, and the nutrients provided through the soil. Jesus, I want us to note, as the true vine does not require sunlight, water, and nutrients from the soil to provide life to the branches that grow off of Him. The life being spoken of in this verse is spiritual life. We are told repeatedly that the Lord gives life, spiritually, to those that come to Him because He is life (John 1:1-4).
So, as the true vine, this life flows through Christ as life flows through the stem of a plant. What this means is that any branch that is growing off of the true vine has life. The branches that are growing from Jesus are, therefore, joined (connected) to Him. This is to say the branches abide in Him and are of Him — they are in fellowship together. To stop with the figurative speech, what this means is that all of us that genuinely believe in the Lord are in fellowship with Christ.
Also from this verse, I want you to also notice that Jesus states that there are two types of branches that stem from Him – branches that bear fruit and branches that do not bear fruit. So, what does this mean?
Well, even though Jesus is giving life to the branches that are growing off of Him, there are some branches that do not bear fruit. How is this possible? Well, some believers that lack in bearing fruit may lack because they are not ministering the gospel. When I say they are not ministering the gospel, I do not mean this by simply preaching or teaching. We are able to minister the gospel through the testimony of how we live each and every day. These branches, Jesus tells us that they will be taken away.
I want us to also remember what Jesus said about the fruit of false prophets to the disciples. Jesus told the disciples that we would be able to recognize false prophets by the fruits that they bear (Matt. 7:16). What this means is that the fruits of the false prophets are fruits that we can see (recognize). What this also means is that the fruits of those that are righteous can also be seen (recognized).
Jesus also pointed out to the disciples that every good tree bears good fruit, and every bad tree bears bad fruit. To this same point, Jesus made it clear that neither tree could bear the opposite fruit (Matt. 7:17-18). So, to get back to the branches that grow off the true vine, they are either going to bear good fruit or no fruit at all.
To be honest, I find it hard to believe that there are branches growing from the true vine that do not bear fruit. I guess I say this from the standpoint that I believe all genuine believers, just by the life we live, are living testimonies of the Lord and our testimony can bear fruit. Now, as hard as I find that to believe, I suppose it is certainly possible. Again, with that being said, Jesus being the truth (good) means that any fruit that comes off of His vine is going to be good fruit (vss.3-5).
Now, as the vinedresser, the Father desires to help the branches growing off of Jesus to grow and bear more fruit. Gardeners will prune plants in their garden to help their plants further grow and bear even more fruit. So, as a gardener, God will prune you so that you can grow and be better for the purpose of bearing more good fruit. The fruit that we bear are for all people around us so that they can eat from our fruit so that they can also grow and be better.
Casting out of branches
Now, as we continue in our lesson, we will see Jesus speak on the branches that do not grow from His vine but from the vine of another. Jesus states, “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned (v.6).”
This statement from Jesus is the same as what He said of the false prophets and bad trees. Jesus stated, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire (Matt. 7:19).” Let me tell you something – God does not mess around when it comes to His garden!
As someone who loves to take care of my yard, I cannot stand for weeds to grow in my yard. Gardeners don’t want weeds, thistles, and briars to grow in their garden because they can prevent good plants from growing. So, the idea here is that God is going to remove all obstacles that prevent good growth and good fruit bearing in His garden.
In God’s care
What I hope you take away from today’s lesson is that you are in God’s care. God is going to care for all of those who abide on the true vine – this speaks to those that are in fellowship with Him. The trials for the good plants growing in the garden are those bad plants and even those branches that do not bear fruit. Gardeners work their hardest to take away all of those obstacles. God will remove all obstacles that can stunt your growth.
As our lesson comes to an end, we will see Jesus even speak to this point. Jesus states, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you (v.7).” The Lord is going to care for you because you are growing off of Him; Jesus, again, is God in the flesh. So, the Lord is not going to allow anything to harm you or keep you from growing. God wants for you to grow so that you can bear more and more fruit, just as Jesus states in the closing verse of our lesson (v.8).