In John 15:1-11, Jesus uses the grape vine as a metaphor to teach His disciples to abide in Hm. Before reading on, read John 15:1-11 first and pray.
What do these words mean: Abide, fruit, take away, prune, thrown into the fire and burned? For the different branches, do they refer to believers, professing Christians or unbelievers, or both?
In vitriculture, the vine and the branches are one. In this metaphor, Jesus is the vine. The Heavenly Father is the vinedresser. Whom the Father loves He disciplines (Heb 12:6-7). This passage is for genuine believers, otherwise the branches would not be growing from the vine. To abide in Jesus means to stay in fellowship with Him. The passage is about sanctification of the Christian life and not about proofs of salvation. Fruitfulness refer to Christ-likeness and good works that issue from obedience to Christ’s words and communion with Christ (Gal 5:22-23; 2 Pet 1:8; Tit 3:14). Whether the Christian bear no fruit, some fruit, more fruit or much fruit depends on obedience and love for Jesus. He who loves Christ obeys His words (Jn 15:10). Like different jars of clay in God’s hand, we should not compare oneself with another. Instead of comparing and having expectations of one another, intercede one another. We are all unfinished works in the Potter’s hand.
During spring, non-fruiting branches are tied to the trellises along with the fruiting branches. On the ground, the branches and leaves that run on the ground can rot because of the dew and the wet ground. These branches are lifted off the ground and secured to the trellis for aeration by the vine dresser. In due time the fruitless branches will bear fruit. God the Father lifts His own children out of their distress, straying away, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, rottenness, and lethargy. Under the warmth of God’s love, grace, mercy, forgiveness and presence, fruitless Christians will be strong and bear fruit in due time. “Love lifted me!”
Fruiting branches have side shoots. Side shoots of the fruiting branches are trimmed or “cleaned up” so that these branches can bear more fruit. Christians who bear some fruit may have some distractions and bad habits that need to be cleaned up. Some are double-minded, desiring God and the things of the world. The vine dresser will clean up so that the branches will bear more fruit. During harvest time in the summer, there will be some branches that bear some fruit, some bear more fruit, some bear much fruit.
During late autumn, leaves dropped off, and dead branches are removed, and gathered to be burned. The dormant period is in winter. The interpretation is that those who persistently do not bear fruit of Christlikeness are disqualified from service. Paul disciplines his body and keeps it under control, lest after preaching to others he himself should be disqualified (1Co 9:27). For believers, in some seasons of life there can be spiritual decline and drifting away from obedience to Christ. God the Father disciplines all believers for good. For persistently disobedient believers, God the Father can disqualify them for witness or service. The judgment by fire refers to the bema judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor 3:12-15). If anyone’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire (1Co 3:12-15)
Jesus’ lessons to all believers are:
1) Stay in fellowship with Jesus. Until He comes again, resist the temptations of the carnal nature, keep in step with the Spirit by obeying His words (see Gal 5:24-25)
2) The Father always loves His children. He lifts us up when we are down. He cleanses us spiritually so that we can bear more fruit. He disciplines His children for good.
Elder Yoong Yuen Soo