Today we continue studying discipleship, with a focus on John 15. In John 15:8, Jesus proclaims "This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." The definition for "disciples" is "student, follower." We are students and followers of Christ.
How do we produce fruit? We, on our own, can't. In John 15:4, Jesus says "No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." This makes sense, since a branch on its own cannot live without the vine. We must abide or live in Christ and He must live in us to bear fruit.
Jesus states that God, as the Gardener, will cut "off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." (John 15:2). It's inevitable, we will be pruned so that we will grow stronger and bear more fruit. To reiterate what Jesus said, bearing fruit not only shows ourselves as His disciples, but it also brings glory to God.
I know I've been pruned, usually through some sort of a life change - a move to another city, a death of a loved one, a change of habit, and so on. Yes, the pruning may have been painful, but whenever I look back at where I was before and after the pruning, I see growth. I also notice myself growing stronger in Jesus - my vine. I would rather be pruned than to be completely cut off from the vine. To be completely cut off from the vine leads to death.
What kind of fruit will we bear? Jesus answers this as well. Answered prayers (vs. 7, 16), obedience to His commands (v. 9), completed joy (v. 11), and love (vs. 9, 12, 13, 17). Once again, Jesus commands us to love another (see last week's post), even to the point of death. Let it also be noted that obedience to His commands is a result of living in love (v. 9). Love is crucial to being a disciple of Christ.
What kind of fruit are you bearing? Are you willing to be pruned in order to grow stronger and to bear more fruit? Are you living in love? More importantly, are you abiding in Christ? These are not just questions for you, but for me as well.