Jesus continues his long farewell message to his disciples over the Last Supper. He uses another extended metaphor about fruit and vines to teach his disciples about how they must remain “connected” to him.

Read John 15:1-11

Most of us aren’t accustomed to growing fruit so sometimes gardening metaphors are lost on us. But I think we all clearly understand that unless a branch is connected to the main plant, it will not live and it will not bear any fruit. Branches are not independent organisms. They require a tree or, in this case, a vine to live and be useful.

Jesus uses this image to express what it will be like for his disciples to follow him. They are not capable of “bearing fruit” on their own. By bearing fruit, Jesus is referring to doing good works, growing in Christian character, and following God’s Words. 

As Jesus has already explained, God doesn’t require us to “bear fruit” in order to please him. But rather, God is pleased with us because of Jesus already. Then why “bear fruit” at all? What’s the point of doing good if God is already pleased with us?

Jesus gives two incredible answers. First in verses 9-10, he explains that obeying him is natural for those who love him. It’s not duty or fear that drives us. It’s love. Second in verse 11, he wants us to obey him, not because he’s a demanding tyrant, but for our own joy. Obedience to Jesus brings joy, not misery.

It is only our connection to Jesus that enables us to do good, to express our love for him, and to experience complete joy.

I AM THE VINE; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).

Ask yourself these questions and write down your responses:

  • What battles have you been fighting through your own strength alone?
  • What would it look like to “abide in” Jesus in order to bear fruit?
  • Does obeying Jesus bring you joy? Why or why not?

If you’d like to learn more about Jesus’ teaching about being the Vine, listen to this sermon from Pastor Tim: