Vine and Branches

Jesus intends for us to bear fruit.

The Gospel of John: John 15.1-8

Read and meditate on John 15.1, 2.
Jesus provides more detail on the nature of our calling as His disciples. Discipleship involves an intimate and organic relationship with Christ in which we bear much fruit and glorify the Father. It’s like a vine and fruit-bearing branches.

                                                1Then He
explained to them, “I am the true vine, and
My Father is the vinedresser. 2Each branch
in Me that bears no fruit, He takes away,
and every fruitful branch He prunes. That way
it bears more fruit.”

- John 15.1, 2

Reflect
1.  Jesus and His disciples left the upper room and headed across the Kidron Valley to Gethsemane. It’s not hard to imagine that, as they walked, they may have passed a small vineyard, which Jesus used as an occasion to deepen His teaching about discipleship. The Bible says that the creation reveals the glory of God, and can teach us about His attributes and will (cf. Ps. 19.1-4; Rom. 1.18-21). Jesus frequently made use of the creation to teach about the Kingdom – seeds, coins, fields, birds, pearls, and more Are you as alert as Jesus was to the opportunities creation presents for learning something about God or our relationship with Him? Explain. Complete this prayer: Lord Jesus, I know You speak to me through Your creation. Help me to…

2.  Jesus described Himself as the vine. Why do vinedressers plant vines? What are they looking for? What does this suggest about the mission Jesus was sent on by His Father? Is that mission completed merely by our becoming saved and receiving the gift of eternal life? Explain. Lord, You are looking for fruit in line with Your Father’s will. I am Your disciple, and I need to…

3.  The fruit of a vine comes not from the vine itself but through the branches which grow out of the vine. But the branches draw what they require for making fruit from the vine, and not from themselves. Branches that bear fruit are pruned so that they may bear more fruit. What’s the principle at work in this? How does pruning make fruitful branches more fruitful? Lord, I want to be more fruitful for You, so…

4.  What kind of fruit are disciples of Jesus supposed to bear? How does that fruit come into being in and through us? How should we expect the Lord to prune us, so that we will be more fruitful? Be at work in me, Lord, to will and work of Your good pleasures, that I may…

5.  The Lord’s purpose for us is that we should bear fruit, and that that fruit should remain (Jn. 15.16). Bearing fruit is central to what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. We should expect both to bear fruit and to be pruned to bear more fruit. What does this suggest about how we should approach our daily lives? How can disciples help one another to be more fruitful for the Lord? Bring together into one the prayers you composed for questions 1-4.

Summary
“He wants to show us how important it is to love, to hold fast to our love toward him and how much we gain from our union with him. This is why he says that he is the vine, by way of illustration. Those united, anchored and rooted in him, who are already partakers in his nature through their participation in the Holy Spirit, are branches. For it is his Holy Spirit who has united us with the Savior Christ since connection with the vine produces a choice of those things that belong to it. And our connection with the vine holds us fast. From a firm resolve in goodness we proceed onward by faith and we become his people, obtaining from him the dignity of sonship.… He says that he is a vine, the mother and nourisher, as it were, of its branches. For we are begotten of him and in him, in the Spirit, to produce the fruits of life.” Cyril of Alexandria (375-444 AD)

How would you explain this vine/branches lifestyle to a new believer?

Closing Prayer
I waited patiently for the LORD;
And He inclined to me,
And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit,
Out of the miry clay,
And set my feet upon a rock,
And established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth—
Praise to our God;
Many will see it and fear,
And will trust in the Lord.
Blessed is that man who makes the LORD his trust,
And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
Many, O LORD my God, are Your wonderful works
Which You have done;
And Your thoughts toward us
Cannot be recounted to You in order;
If I would declare and speak of them,
They are more than can be numbered.
Sacrifice and offering You did not desire;
My ears You have opened.
Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require.
Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.
I delight to do Your will, O my God,
And Your law is within my heart.”

Psalm 40.1-8

Psalm 40.1-8 (Dix: For the Beauty of the Earth)
I waited patiently for God; He inclined and heard my cry,
Lifted me up above the sod, set me on a Rock on high!
New songs in my mouth He gave; may He through me many save.

Blessed are all who trust in You, turning both from lies and pride.
Countless wonders, Lord, You do, and Your thoughts with us abide.
Lord, Your worth who can declare?  None with You can e’er compare.

Off’rings You do not require – open now my ears, O Lord –
What from me do You desire?  Firm delight to do Your Word.
Take my life in ev’ry part; write Your Law upon my heart.

T. M. Moore

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We are happy to offer each week’s Scriptorium studies in a free weekly PDF, suitable for personal or group use. You can download all the studies in our series on the Gospel of John by clicking here. Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV a and b: John, edited by Joel C. Elowsky, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Verse translation of John by T. M. Moore.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT. 

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