What did I learn about Jesus?
- Fruit-bearing is a natural part of being a follower of Jesus
- To bear fruit I must remain connected to Jesus
What did I learn about disciple-making?
- Disciples who remain connected to Jesus can ask for whatever they wish! (7)
- I bring glory to the Father when I bear fruit. (8)
Extended thoughts and observations from Pastor Mark:
Good morning disciple-makers:
I want to look at one aspect of the first half of this chapter. I’ll leave it to others to tackle the rest. As you read the passage, underline the word “remain” and count how many times it appears. Also, circle the word “fruit” and count how many times it appears. Go ahead…do that now, and then come back to finish reading.
One of the remarkable things about John’s gospel is that we find no parables! This passage on the Vine and the branches is about as close as John gets to that kind of teaching. He uses this metaphor to describe our relationship as a disciple with the master. According to this word picture, what is the sign that we (the branches) are truly disciples of Jesus (the Vine?) We bear fruit. (We also obey his commands and love one another…both ideas come out in this passage.) But the dominant theme of this chapter is fruit-bearing.
Before we continue, ask yourself this question: what is the fruit of my life in Jesus? Can you name 2-3 specific things that are born out of your life because of your relationship with the Lord?
And what is the key to fruit-bearing according to this word picture? Remaining in Jesus. Some Bibles say “abide.” Obviously, if a branch is chopped off of the vine, it can’t bear fruit. Eleven times Jesus uses the word “remain” to describe the nature of our relationship with him. Abide. Stay attached. Cling to him…and keep clinging to him. All of these give the idea of the word “remain.”
I had lunch with a man this week who has been at the same company for 30 years. Since I’ve been at Chapel Hill for 27, we were comparing notes about long-term service in one place. His advice? “Just show up.” Of course he didn’t mean just arrive at work and draw your paycheck. He meant that the biggest part of life is to keep at it; to persevere; to be faithful; to not stop. To arrive every day, give it your best shot, leave…and come back again the next day.
It may not seem like very spectacular advice; not as sexy as the high-flyer who dashes from one adventure to the other. But in the end, there can be something deep and real and good that arises out of a life that is lived faithfully and consistently in one place, one marriage, one community, one career, one church. And one Lord! We live in a culture of immediate gratification. We want what we want now…and we expect that of our religion, too. But Jesus speaks of a consistent, persistent, faithful “remaining” in him that produces a fruitful life of discipleship.
Today, ask yourself this question: am I a good “remainer?” Can the Lord count on me to hang in with him, to trust him, to cling to him, in good times and bad, in fruitful times and desert times? What is the key to a fruitful life in Christ? Just show up! Faithfully, every morning…show up. Remain.
Your thoughts…because there are lots of other great morsels here.