The Vine and the Branches
(John 15: 1-26 MESSAGE)
"I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn’t bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can’t bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can’t bear fruit unless you are joined with me.
"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire.But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is-when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples.
"I’ve loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you’ll remain intimately at home in my love. That’s what I’ve done-kept my Father’s commands and made myself at home in his love.
"I’ve told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I’m no longer calling you servants because servants don’t understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father.
"You didn’t choose me, remember; I chose you, and put you in the world to bear fruit, fruit that won’t spoil. As fruit bearers, whatever you ask the Father in relation to me, he gives you.
"But remember the root command: Love one another. "
IT IS WITH A GREAT SIGH OF RELIEF...
THAT I NOW UNDERSTAND THAT IT IS NOT ME THAT PRODUCES THE FRUIT THAT JESUS IS TALKING ABOUT IN THIS PASSAGE. I DON'T KNOW WHY I MISSED IT BEFORE. IT SEEMS SO OBVIOUS WHEN I READ IT NOW THAT THE FRUIT IS SOMETHING THAT COMES FROM JESUS' LIFE IN ME... INSTEAD OF MY OWN ATTEMPTS AT FRUIT GROWING.
I don't have grapes in my yard, but I do have crab-apples So I do understand where fruit comes from. What do I contribute to the process of crab apple growth? ... absolutely nothing. Well.. not totally nothing. I make a decision to not cut the trees down every year. It is tempting at times, it is a lot of work to rake crabapples every fall.
I don't make the crabapples grow. That just comes naturally. But I don't hinder the process either. I guess I could if I wanted to... but each year I get sucked in by the beauty of the trees and my love of crabapple sauce.
The fruit just comes. I don't have to wonder if it will come because I am not doing much on my own to make it happen... It just comes.
Read the passage again, if it isn't clearing up for you. FRUIT COMES... THAT IS NATURAL.
LOVE IS THE NATURAL BY PRODUCT OF JESUS' LIFE. GOD IS LOVE. LOVE IS JESUS' IDENTITY. SO WHEN I BECOME OKAY WITH JESUS MANIFESTING THAT LOVE IN MY LIFE... THAT LOVE BECOMES NATURAL. LIKE THE FRUIT THAT GROWS ON MY CRABAPPLE TREES. THERE IS NO THOUGHT PROCESS. IT IS NATURAL.
I don't have to remind myself to love, it is the natural fruit of being connected to the life and love of Jesus Christ.