A stained glass window of Jesus

Followers of Jesus must be fruitful

Jesus knew that the time of his death was near

Jesus knew that His hour had come as He approached the final night with His disciples.

He washed their feet as an example of humility. He then told them that one of them would betray Him. He told them that He was leaving and that Peter would deny Him. (John 13)

Don’t be troubled

After these shocking revelations, He told them not to be troubled.  He was leaving but would return for them. He would prepare a place for them and He would send the Comforter to be with them until He returned. They would do great things in His name. (John 14)

He had taught them about the intimacy that He had with the Father. He now talked about the intimacy that they would share with God. The Holy Spirit would soon be in them. As they obeyed His teaching and loved one another they would experience intimacy with God. (John 14:15-31)

The Vineyard

He then gave an illustration that would embody what He had said and would be a picture of the innermost truths of the Christian life. Jesus was the true vine. His Father tended the vineyard and his followers were the branches.  (John 15:1-17)

Many thoughts must have leaped to mind.

Vineyards were an important investment and inheritance in Jewish families. They required much work but yielded valuable fruit..

The Psalmist praised God for preparing a place and planting His people as the vine He brought out of Egypt. (Psalm 80:8-9)

Isaiah had used the illustration of the tended but unfruitful vineyard when he introduced his prophecies of judgement against God’s people.  Jesus spoke similarly when he condemned the religious leaders of His day. (Isaiah 5; Mark 12:1-12)

Josephus, the Jewish historian born about five years after Jesus was crucified, wrote that the facade of the temple in Jerusalem faced the rising sun. It was covered entirely in gold and had a vine sculptured across the top with clusters of grapes as tall as a man’s height. This image shown bright in the sunlight and would be vivid in the disciples’ minds.  They had been in the temple court with Jesus and may have even seen it that night as they walked from the upper room to the garden. (Josephus. The Wars of the Jews. Book 5, sections 208-211)

Jesus’ point was clear. The Father would not allow branches to be fruitless.

Even those that bore fruit would be pruned so that they bore more fruit. Detached from the vine, branches bore nothing. Fruitful disciples glorify God. (John 15:1-17)

The fruit that God desires are an obedient, holy life and love for fellow disciples.

Paul’s teaching about being a living sacrifice that is holy and acceptable to God makes similar points. (John 15:8-17; Romans 12:1-21; Galatians 5:16-24; Colossians 1:9-10;  Hebrews 12:7-17; James 3:13-18)

This message still stands for the followers of Jesus today. We are to grow in obedience and bear fruit to God’s glory.

How are our lives fruitful for eternity?

What can be changed to make us more fruitful?

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