The Vine and the Branches
Friday - April 9th
Scripture to Read Today: John 15:1-8
"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." - Jesus
Jane and Bill Martin were an elderly couple that lived behind us throughout my childhood in Mishawaka, Indiana. The Martins had a pretty good size piece of property with a large garden and a long row of grapevines. My best friend Lance was my age and lived next door to me. We loved to eat grapes from the vines Jane and Bill had behind their house. To this day, I tell people they were such friendly neighbors that they let us boys eat their grapes whenever we wanted. But, as I type this, I am not sure we ever asked them or if they even knew we were eating their grapes.
I don't think I have ever eaten juicier, sweeter grapes than the ones from the Martins' vines. They were the purpliest (probably not a word, but it fits) and plumpest grapes I have ever eaten. Lance and I would watch the clusters grow in the early part of each summer. We monitored their progress every few days. We were so eager to taste them each year that we often tried them before they were ripe and ended up with stomach aches.
In a way, I suppose we fancied ourselves experts on those grapevines. We talked as if we knew the rhythms of their seasons and predicted to one another when they would be ripe and ready to pick each summer.
Lance and I learned some important things from our rather serious but ignorant research on the Martins' vines. First, we learned that every branch could be ultimately traced back to the vine. No branch existed apart from the trunk of the vine. Second, the nourishment and resources needed for a branch to be fruitful flowed from the vine. No branch bore fruit apart from the vine. Those were our basic observations. As you can see, we were quite the viticulturists (farmers who grow grapes).
Over the years, as I have read John 15, I think back to studying those vines and eating those grapes with Lance. Jesus declares, "I AM the true vine" in the first verse of John 15. He then says that His followers are the branches in verse five. We are the branches. He is the vine.
Like the viticulturist observations Lance and I had made as kids, Jesus tells us that without a connection to Him, we cannot be nourished or bear fruit. "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" (John 15:5).
To be connected to Jesus means that you have trusted Christ to be your Savior. If you have not done that, trust Jesus today! If you are already a follower of Jesus, remember that you are connected to Him. He is the vine. He is the one who makes you alive spiritually. Lean into Him so you can bear much fruit.
The Bible indicates there are two kinds of fruit we are to produce in our lives as Christians. The first fruit is the fruit of the Spirit - Christlike qualities listed in Galatians 5:22-23 that the Holy Spirit cultivates in us as we grow in Christ. Others see this fruit and are drawn to Jesus through the way we live and love daily. People who come to Jesus because of the witness of our lives and our lips are the second kind of fruit. The only way for either kind of fruit to flow from our lives is to lean into Christ for our spiritual sustenance and our ability to bear fruit.
Thank God for the nourishment He gives you in Jesus. Thank Him that He chooses to use you to draw others to Jesus as they see the fruit of the Spirit in you!
Jesus is the vine that provides us, as the branches, the life and nourishment to grow, thrive, and bear fruit for His glory!