This Lesson is part of John’s Gospel Easy Notes Series.
Israel the Vine and Jesus the True Vine
Jesus is speaking about the intimate union we can have with him. In a theological sense, Israel was the vine that God had planted (see Isaiah 5:1—7). But it continually failed to witness to God and was not the light God wanted it to be to the nations of the world. Now Jesus is applying the image of the vine to himself. Therefore he emphasizes the word “true” vine. Through belief in him, we the branches, the church or the body of Christ can bear fruit by abiding or remaining in him.
The warning in this passage should not be missed. God the Father cuts off every branch that does not bear fruit. As far as the vine is concerned this is literally true. Too many branches without fruit take away the nutrients away from the fruit-bearing branches. Therefore it was important to mercilessly cut off branches that did not bear fruit. And the wood of the vine was good for nothing except to be burned and destroyed!
As we are busy with Christian activities including that of in social media, have we forgotten to bear fruit? Busyness is not the same as fruitfulness! The possibility of being rejected by Christ because of our uselessness in his kingdom is a very serious warning. Jesus is calling us to remain in him. Any busy Christian activity without remaining in him comes under the threat of this warning.
Remember that the only reason why Jesus cursed the fig tree was because it had plenty of leaves and gave an appearance or pretense of fruitfulness but had no fruit in it (Mark 11:12—25). It can happen to you and me if we do not produce fruit.
God the Father prunes the branches. Often the difficulties that come into our lives are part of this pruning process. The process itself is painful. But there is a purpose. That is to make us even more fruitful.
Pruning can also be compared to a sculptor like Michael Angelo creating a statue, for example, out of marble. He chisels away all that does not look like an angel if he is making the statue of an angel. The process is painful if the statue indeed had life in it; isn’t it?
A Disciplined Life
The call to remain in him or abide in him is a call to a disciplined life. It calls you and me to give up sinful attitudes, rebellion, pride and disobedience to God.
“To ‘abide in me’ expresses the continuous act by which the Christian lays aside all he might draw from his own wisdom, strength or merit to derive all from Christ” – Godet.
Prayer is a continual expression of our remaining in Jesus. When we pray in the way God wishes us to, our prayers will be focused on bearing fruit for God’s glory rather than on getting our selfish desires met. It is only when we pray for God to be glorified in our lives can God answer our prayers in the name of Jesus. In Biblical times a name represented the entire personality and character of a person. So our prayers should always reflect the character of Jesus for it to be answered.
There is nothing wrong in asking for our needs to be met. But when we forget the fact that Jesus came to this world to save sinners and that message has to reach the ends of the earth and we have to do our part; then our prayers will take a different tone.
Griffith Thomas points out, “There is scarcely a passage in the Gospels without a self-assertion of Jesus coming out in connection with his teaching. His message and his claims are really inextricable.” If you remove His claims, you will have to remove His life and teachings also. These three are so closely linked that you cannot remove one and keep the other – from The Supremacy of Christ by Ajith Fernando.
Abide in Me
Remain in me.
Never forget this lesson.
Do not try to be too busy for God.
What he desires is that you come and spend time with him.
Most of us were taught to spend five minutes in reading a Psalm and in prayer each day.
How misleading that advice was.
If you can rise up early than usual you can easily spend an hour with God.
It will become a habit.
It is love for him that makes it possible.
Don’t ask me how to do it. If you thirst for him you will find him. See Jeremiah 29:12, 13.
I read somewhere the story about a novelist who fell in love with a woman. He tried to win her heart but she was not interested. Anyway he presented her a copy of the latest novel he had written. She took that and just threw it in some corner of a shelf in her room. After some years she for some strange unknown reason fell in love with him. The first thing she did was to find that copy of the novel she had thrown somewhere and read it in full. What made her do it? Love for the author. Simple; isn’t it?
Bible reading becomes a joy when you fall in love with the author. Bible reading then becomes a secret meeting between two lovers!