Guest speaker Jeremy Jernigan takes us through the text in John 15 and describes what it means to remain in the vine and experience the vibrant life that Jesus desires us to have. The more we remain in the vine, the more closely we get to Jesus, and the more vibrantly we’ll experience life.
Jesus uses the image of a vine and branches in John 15 to describe the relationship we are to have with God the father, the gardener, and Jesus, the vine. This imagery was a common one in the Old Testament that referred to the people of Israel, however it was generally a negative image of a disobedient people. So when Jesus begins to use this imagery, but places himself as the vine, it was a way of reversing the people’s usual paradigm.
It is important for us as disciples to understand that pruning is a normal part of life. Jesus tells us that every branch will get pruned. It is the healthy branches that are pruned. These seasons of pruning will likely be difficult or challenging, but they shouldn’t be considered as negative. God prunes us so that we can hold more life. It should be far more concerning if we never experience pruning, because this indicates to us that we are not remaining in the vine of Jesus.
Too often we believe that if we could just get to a place of being ‘good enough’ Jesus wouldn’t have to prune us. Jesus tells us in this passage that we are already clean. As disciples, we live in a state of forgiveness and this is how the Father sees us. It is a lie to believe that God is disappointed in us, and it is this kind of thinking can hinder the process of growth in our lives. It is also important to remember that when a branch is cut off of the vine, it is God–and not us–that does the cutting. There is not one instance in the New Testament in which we find a follower of Christ determining the eternal destiny of another person. It is important to recognize that it is when we are pruned we are able to live more abundantly the life Jesus desires us to live. The more closely we remain in Jesus, the more vibrantly we can experience life.
Jesus goes on to tell us that those who remain in him will produce fruit. He tells us that apart from him we can do nothing. Jesus is our source of life and he is a requirement for us to produce any good thing. The word Jesus uses to describe how we produce fruit is one that indicates ‘to carry.’ We are not called to go out from the vine and make our own fruit. We are called to remain in the vine and be a branch that carries the fruit God grows for us. Fruit is not something we wake up one morning with the mindset that today we will create fruit in our lives. We do not produce fruit in one simple act, but rather God cultivates the spiritual fruit in our lives through the process of transformation. Jesus-looking people are those carrying the fruit God grows on the tree. Jesus tells us to abide in the vine. We are to remain actively still in the vine and just be present to what God is already doing in our lives.
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