I Am A Branch in Christ, the Vine
A FULL CLUSTER OF grapes, chilled and dripping with water. A ripe red apple, shiny on the outside and juicy on the inside. A newly picked orange that sprays liquid sunshine when peeled and split. Few things are as attractive to the eyes and pleasing to the taste as fresh, sweet fruit.
While physical fruit is appealing and satisfying to man’s flesh, it pales in comparison to the deep beauty of the spiritual fruit that can be produced in the life of a Christian. How is it that such fruit comes in the life of a follower of Christ? Because a Christian enjoys a link with God through Christ, that makes it all possible. You are somebody if you are in Christ because you are a branch of Christ, the vine.
In John 15:1–10, we find a wondrous description of the relationship between the Savior and the saved. Christ compared the relationship to that of a vine and its branches. This comparison helps us to understand better our tie to Christ, the need to work to keep the tie strong, and the results of the tie. Let’s look together at this passage with keen interest as we find four important principles concerning life as a branch in Christ, the vine.
1. Christ is our lifeline. Just as a branch receives its nutrients and moisture from the soil through the vine, the Christian draws his spiritual nourishment through Christ.
As branches, we have an important responsibility in maintaining this connection to Christ. The Lord, in verse 4, commands His followers to abide in Him. How can this be done? Verse 10 tells us that if we keep Christ’s commandments we will abide in His love. The principles, the standards, the instructions found in the New Testament are the key to abiding in Christ. If our life is in harmony with them, our lifeline to Christ will be open and strong.
2. Fruit will follow. If we abide in Christ and He in us, then fruit will be produced. A plant is at its peak of beauty when it is either full of blossoms (expecting fruit) or laden with fruit. Likewise, we are at our peak of beauty when we truly abide in Christ and allow Him to work in us. Our attitudes and actions are attractive to behold and pleasing to be near, to God and to those around us.
Even the most brilliant sunrise, the loveliest flower, and the cuddliest newborn baby do not compare to the beauty of one person who gives his life to Christ and bears fruit for Him. The greatest sight to see is one who once was chained to sin but now has been freed to live in Christ.
What is this fruit? Is it souls converted to Christ, visits made to the sick, or classes taught at Bible study? Examine Galatians 5:22–23 and 2 Peter 1:5–8. In both of these passages, the inner qualities listed are described as either being fruit or resulting in fruit. The fruit that should follow are attributes or virtues developed in the life of a believer. If these attitudes are present, actions such as conversions, visits, and public teaching often follow. When looking for the fruit, look for the attitudes first, not the actions.
3. The fruitful will be pruned. As a boy, we always had fruit trees on our land. Every now and then my father would prune these trees. After he was finished, I always thought, “Dad, you’ve cut too much. The trees will be damaged.” You know what? Many of those same trees are still standing and bearing today. Why? Because my father knew what he was doing when he pruned them. Likewise, our Heavenly Father knows what He is doing when “… He prunes, so that it will bear more fruit” (verse 2).
What would we be like if we never had disappointments, discouragement, pain, or trials? How grateful would we be? How much would we pray and study? How much would we feel a need for God? As James put it, we should “… count it all joy …” when we face such tests (James 1:2). God is pruning us. He “cuts on our character” so that we might be better people and bear more fruit for His glory.
4. The unfruitful will be cut off. I also remember having a grape vine at the edge of our yard when I was growing up. But one day my father cut it down and destroyed it. Why? Because it stopped producing grapes.
What will happen to those of us who bear no fruit? We will be taken away from the vine and destroyed (verses 2 and 6). The relationship that we can enjoy attached to Christ is a rich and precious one. Yet, it can all be lost. There is no state of suspended animation in serving Christ. We can’t push the pause button on the relationship. To abide in Christ means to grow and produce. If we cease to grow and produce, we will eventually be cut off.
How blessed we are to be a branch on the vine of Christ. Because of this link, our life can be a fruitful one—one that is glorifying to God, helpful to others and meaningful to us. Let us always abide in Him. (1)
(1) Mullins, P. (1988). I Am A Branch in Christ, the Vine. In S. Hall (Ed.), Christianity Magazine: December 1988, Volume 5, Number 12 (S. Hall, Ed.) (15). Jacksonville, FL: Christianity Magazine.
From Expository Files 23.1; January 2016