Have you ever thought of yourself as a branch? It may sound silly but in John 15:1-6, Jesus uses the analogy of a vine and branches to describe the relationship that He shares with His followers. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." (John 15:1-6). Let us see what lessons we can glean from this analogy.
First of all, we need to identify exactly who or what the branches are. Many teach that the branches refer to different denominations. This is proven false when you notice that Jesus told the disciples that "Ye are the branches". Later, He says that "if a man abide not in me". He is not referring to different groups of people but to specific individuals. Those who try to use this passage to justify denominationalism are simply wrong.
Since we now know that we are the branches; what is our relationship to Jesus? Jesus called Himself the "true vine". Just as a vine supplies all of it branches with the nutrients that they need to produce fruit; so Christ supplies all of His followers with all that they need to produce spiritual fruit. "But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." (John 4:14). Yes, Christ provides us with all that we need to produce fruit and please Him. "According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue" (2 Peter 1:3).
The next question to ask is: "What is this fruit?". I think that we should let the Bible answer that question; "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." (Galatians 5:22-23). As a Christian, we must strive to produce the fruits of the Spirit. Also, notice that when the branches produce fruit it says that the Father "purges" them so that they can bring forth more fruit. When we live in such a way that we are producing spiritual fruit, God, through His providence, and the teaching of His Word, will help us to thrive.
Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention the consequences of not producing fruit. Jesus says that the branch which does not produce is cast forth into the fire. A branch that does not produce fruit is a burden on the rest of the plant. Therefore, the husbandman, (the Father) cuts that branch off so the others can flourish. If we do not produce good fruit in our lives of service to God, we will be cut off from Him forever.
-- Ralph Price, December 2001 --