I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. You are already pruned clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up ……… My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. John 15:1-8
In the true vine metaphor—the focus is on fruit that remains. So what exactly is this “fruit”? “Fruit” is a common metaphor in the Bible but what does Jesus mean by the word in this context? Jesus had said earlier to the disciples,
“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. (John 12:24)
And then again Jesus said to them,
You did not choose me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in my name He may give to you. (Jn 15:16.)
It is plain that the major meaning of “fruit” in this context is that of the reproduction of disciples. This is the meaning of his choosing the disciples and their appointment. The whole discourse of the Lord Jesus here is to prepare the disciples for his departure and the coming of the Holy Spirit who will ensure Jesus’ work on earth will continue. The disciples, the believers, will do the works Jesus did, even greater.
In other contexts “fruit” may mean ethical fruit, the evidence of holy lives. Such “fruit” is of major importance and an essential work of the Holy Spirit. But if you read this and think Jesus meant only holiness, think again.
The pious thinking that Jesus was not referring here to making disciples and “teaching them all things I have commanded you” has led millions of believers to just become pew-sitters instead of bearing witness to Jesus and bringing forth fruit that remains.
The context shouts at us “reproduce!” This is the proof you are a disciple (Jn 15:8).
Again, let us stop worshipping Jesus in our own ways, the traditions of churches and denominations and dogmas. Let the heart of God, the promise of the Father grab us.
Let us follow Jesus, listen to his words, and put them into action. Today.