In Isaiah 27, the prophet has a vision of a glorious future in which Israel would be restored to God, which he expresses using the metaphor of a vineyard. “In that day, a pleasant vineyard, sing of it! I, the Lord, am its keeper; every moment I water it. Lest anyone punish it, I keep it night and day…In days to come, Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots and fill the whole world with fruit.” For Israel, the ultimate consequence of being reconnected with God as a source of life would be the redemption of their purpose: the power to transform corrupt, self-serving actions into actions that please God and better the world… which Isaiah calls, “fruit.”
Jesus explicitly references this passage during a series of “I Am” teachings that span John 14 and 15. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.” Here, he illuminates the metaphor of the vineyard with new revelation…if God is the one who tends the vine,Jesus is the vine. This revelation changes the meaning of the teaching. It is not just God’s will to tend the vine and for the vine to produce fruit. In other words, God doesn’t just watch over us and hope that we produce good actions. Instead, he provides the power to make this possible: by being rooted in Jesus. Jesus is actually the vine that produces good fruit, the source of heart transformation in us. By being rooted in Him, we are transformed to produce fruit like Him, actions that please God.
“Already you are clean because of the word that was spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in you, he it is that bears much fruit.”
Already you are clean! As Christians sometimes we can spend time obsessing over whether we are really clean, really accepted by Christ, really good. But I love what Jesus says in this passage. It’s like he’s saying, “Already you are clean! We’ve established that…Now move on to the task of abiding in me! Then you will have those good actions that you feel incapable of producing on your own! Spend less time thinking about yourself and how you will be better next time…and spend more time thinking about me!”
What does “abide in me” mean? Take the example of a house. When you abide (live) in a house, you become familiar with it. You come to know its shape, its structure, its character. You come to know which rooms to go into to get what you need. Abiding in Jesus is similar–it means living in Him. Growing in your familiarity with Him. Being willing and excited to explore his precepts, his way, and how He’s shaped His purposes for your life. Again, this comes back to seeking Him as the most important discipline of our lives. If we don’t have time for Jesus, but we have time for good works, that makes no sense. This passage is clear: without the familiarity of being with Jesus and knowing what pleases Him, we can’t produce fruit.
-How would you characterize your attitude towards producing fruit in Jesus right now? Are you eagerly jumping towards/seeking heart transformation that leads to actions that please God? Is there fruit (heart transformation) that God has been trying to give you, but you haven’t wanted to receive yet?
-Take five minutes to reflect on what it means to abide in Christ, and how that may look in your own life. Then take five more minutes to implement it! Even five minutes a day of abiding in Christ makes a huge difference.