Just what is the fruit that Jesus is referring to in John 15?
IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING
Viticulture (from the Latin word for vine) is the science, production, and study of grapes. It deals with the series of events that occur in the vineyard. You don’t have to study it very long to determine that it’s primarily about pruning the vines, and it all centers around two principles:
- Deadwood must be ruthlessly removed.
- The live wood must be drastically cut back.
This drastic pruning is necessary because dead wood harbors insects and disease and may cause the vine to rot. (It’s also unproductive and unsightly.) The live wood must be cut back to prevent such heavy growth that the life of the vine goes into the wood instead of the fruit. Vineyards in the early spring look like a collection of barren and bleeding stumps, but in the fall they are filled with luxuriant purple grapes.
God’s Work in Us
In John 15, Jesus used the analogy of a vine and its fruit to show the relationship between believers to himself. As the farmer wields the pruning knife on his vines, so God cuts dead wood out from among his saints, and often cuts back the living wood so far that his method seems cruel. However, the greatest fruitfulness usually comes from those who have suffered the most.
It’s all about bearing fruit, and God’s divine order seems to be fruit, more fruit, much fruit. The more mature a believer becomes, the more is expected of him, but what exactly is expected? What is the fruit Jesus is talking about? Read through Chapter 15 carefully, and you discover the primary implied fruitfulness is a prayer life that brings answers:
If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it shall be done for you (v.7). Yes, chapter 15 deals with other marks of fruitfulness such as obedience, love and joy, but I’d like to focus on the very first kind or fruitfulness Jesus mentions—answered prayer.
AS I SEE IT
It makes perfect sense that if the dead wood in us has been pruned away and we are drawing our nourishment from Jesus, we are going to be so connected and dependent that our prayers will be His prayers, which, of course, will be answered. I don’t know about you, but I never saw answered prayer as the fruit Jesus was talking about. (I can be a slow learner at times.) But now that I see it, it forces me to make the connection where the rubber meets the road in my life. Are my prayers being answered? If not, why not? Could it be that I’m not abiding in the vine of Jesus as much as I think I am? Perhaps there’s more pruning to be done. (Oh, how I hope this isn’t the case. I already feel like a barren and bleeding stump.)
Abiding & Answered Prayer
The brief lesson in viticulture also has me wondering if there’s something in me that is draining nourishment away from the fruit that Jesus expects. If there is, some changes need to be made. Jesus gives these analogies for a reason. He wants us to connect the dots in our own lives. It all starts with abiding in Jesus, and if we are really abiding, we will regularly experience answered prayer, but only those that are based on what’s best for Jesus, not me. Ouch! I can feel the knife already.
Whenever I think of answered prayer, my mind goes directly to my trip through the Balkan nations a few years ago. One of the pastors I met was ministering in an area with a large Muslim population (mostly nominal Muslims). One particular village sent word for him to come and pray for them. No rain had fallen in a very long time and they were desperate. The prayers of the Muslim leaders had yielded nothing, so they called the Christian “Man of God” whom they knew loved them and his God. He came and prayed for their village. He then told the people that in fifteen minutes they would have rain. In fifteen minutes the rain began, right over their village and nowhere else.
God is still in the business of answering prayers in extraordinary ways. The brief time I spent with this pastor left no doubt that he (and his wife) knew all about abiding. What they accomplished with what they had was amazing. The results of God’s pruning in their lives was unmistakable. What an example for all of us. Genuine abiding yields amazing results.
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Pruned vine photo by daBinsi
Pray for rain sign by Billy Hathorn
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