In this Chapter:
1-17: Jesus, the True Vine
18-27: The World’s Hatred
The Vine Parable:
Jesus lays out another key principle to being one of His disciples. Remember, at this point, He is teaching them all they need to know so that after He leaves they will be able to continue their life of faith.
In order to prepare them, He uses the picture of a grape vine and its branches. In this particular plant, the vine carries the nutrients to the branches, which then gives the nutrients to the fruit. The vine is the source of life to the fruit via the branches. The branch is just the “middleman”. The vine causes the fruit to be produced by way of the branches. The job of the branch is not to produce fruit but to simply stay connected to the life-giving vine and allow the vine to produce fruit through it. If a branch were to be detached from the vine, it would shrivel up and die. The branch alone is incapable of producing fruit by itself. The only way that fruit can grow on a branch is if the branch is connected to the vine. Makes sense, right?
Jesus uses this to show his disciples that it is not up to them to produce fruit (good works that are pleasing to God). In fact, Jesus says that the disciples are totally incapable of producing fruit based on their own efforts. He says that apart from Him, they can do nothing.
Jesus is trying to get into His disciples heads that a life lived as one of His followers is not about trying as hard as they can to do good stuff, giving their best effort, and relying on their own strength to please God. Rather, it is all about their continued relationship with Him. Jesus doesn’t want them to just try things on their own, because they would fail every time. He wants them to be dependent on Him as their source of life, because He knows that as they do, they He will be doing good works through them.
How often do we think that life is all about us? We try our hardest; we strive to be the best, and hopefully we will please God with our actions. This is totally contrary to the model that Jesus wants for us!
Jesus also warns His disciples that there will be great cost in being His followers. He tells them that the world will hate them because the world hates Him. Because people are so against Jesus, they will also be against those who are His followers. It sounds contrary to rational thinking, but Jesus’s lifestyle of loving God, loving others and offering forgiveness for sins against the Creator is the same lifestyle that got Him hated by people and eventually murdered.
The Ante Up to Change Our Thinking:
For some reason it is engraved into our minds that we are on our own to try our hardest, to do our very best to please God. If we try hard enough, we will be able to earn His approval. However, we will never be able to live the life that Jesus calls us to with this mindset.
For US as the branch, it’s OUR job to “bear” fruit; not “produce” fruit. It is our job to be bearers of good works, not producers of them. Jesus is the one who will produce good works through us if we abide or remain in Him.
This new concept is a rad, encouraging revelation and actually fairly reassuring. The Christian life is not like the pursuit of a pro shred career. It’s not about working hard and being the best. It’s not about shredding hard every day and trying to impress sponsors or judges with all the awesome tricks you learned. No, the Christian life is about realizing that apart from Jesus, and His power working through us, we can do nothing.
So what does that look like practically? Build your relationship with Jesus, become dependent upon Him, read the Word. Celebrate how AWESOME He is, and He will produce amazing fruit through you.
Remember, though, there is a price to following Jesus. Are you ready to pay the price of pursuing Him? How do we practically pursue Jesus together with our homies and not worry about what others may think?