For months after my marriage, I was in what I call the “honeymoon bubble.” Every time I would hear “Mrs. Robbins,” it felt both strange and sensational! I must have had an aura about me when I was in that bubble, something like the cloud that hangs over Pigpen’s head in the Peanuts cartoon, for people would look at me and ask, “Are you a newlywed?”
With a huge grin I would giddily respond, “Three months!” or “Six months!” or “We just celebrated our first anniversary!”
Now on the precipice of celebrating my 15th wedding anniversary, I can say from experience, the honeymoon bubble eventually bursts! The “high” of romantic feelings wears off!
I have learned that marriage is both enjoyable and enduring. That doesn’t mean that one goes through marriage with gritted teeth. It means that unrealistic expectations of romance will soon give way to routine…and reality! It means immature love changes and grows into something that is able to handle the ebbs and flows of life.
In John 15, the disciples were emerging from the “honeymoon bubble.” They had spent years with Jesus, waiting for Him to do something sensational to prove that He was the Messiah. They longed for Him to declare Himself King and set up His Kingdom, defeating the Romans and giving the disciples positions of power within His regime. The triumphant entry (John 12) fuelled their excitement and expectation!
Jesus, however, doused their fire of expectation by declaring that He would not be heralded, but hated. Furthermore, so would they as His disciples (John 15:18-25). It only added to their confusion when Jesus filled a basin with water, tucked his robe into his belt, and proceeded to kneel and wash their feet.
They were struggling to comprehend all that Jesus had said and done in the upper room. But, they were beginning to understand that their relationship with Him was changing from a physical one, to a spiritual one (John 15:1-3). Then, as they walked with Him to theGardenofGethsemane, Jesus suddenly stopped and began to tell them a story of a vine and its branches.
With a picture of something very familiar to them, He revealed to His disciples their destiny. It is also our destiny as His disciples today – We were born to bear fruit!
Jesus is the True Vine.
We are the branches.
The Father is the Vine Keeper.
Jesus Is the True Vine.
The vine is not the long, thin appendage that can creep up high walls and along trellises. The vine is actually the trunk that grows out of the ground. There are certainly other trunks out there that we could attach ourselves to. But scripture is clear; Jesus is the one and only TRUE vine. He is the only true source of life and fruit. He is the only source of nourishment and strength. The branches cannot survive apart from the vine!
The Father is the Vine Keeper.
What does the Vine Keeper do?
He is the owner or caregiver of the vineyard. His task is to coax the maximum amount of grapes He can from His plants. So, with great care and love, He tends to the branches in order to help them become fruitful! Nothing will happen to a branch that the Vine Keeper doesn’t know about, or allow for the purpose of helping the branch bear fruit. Sometimes, He not only prunes away the dead, barren wood, but He also prunes away branches that bear fruit. He may choose to take the branch to the point where nothing is left except its attachment to the vine (John 15: 1-2, 5-8).
Nevertheless, it is up to the branch to decide how he/she will respond to the Vine Keeper’s pruning. This will determine how fruitful the branch becomes. In John 15: 2, Jesus is teaching His disciples, then and now, that there are defined levels of fruitfulness. Every branch is at one of these points at any given time.
We are the branches.
As His disciples, we are the visible manifestation of the vine. In other words, Jesus no longer walks this earth in His physical form, but He accomplishes His purposes through us. We are His hands, His feet and His voice. We are the body of Christ.
Therefore, we are the focus of the Vine Keeper’s attention. As His branches, our purpose is to go and produce fruit (Psalm 1:3).
How fruitful are you? Are you a barren branch? Are you content with producing “some” fruit or “more” fruit? Are you willing to allow the Vine Keeper to do whatever it takes for you to be a branch that is constantly yielding basketfuls of plum delicious fruit?
What does our fruit look like?
Although evangelism is one key fruit (John 4:36), we can also produce others. Fruit is anything that we do, say, or think that exalts God. In other words, it is anything that brings glory to God (Philippians 1:11, Titus 3:14). When I write Musings, I am bearing fruit. Volunteering to be a greeter at church, changing a diaper in the church nursery, choosing to put someone else’s need first, choosing not to gossip, fixing a neighbour’s flat tire – all of these are examples of how we can bear fruit…fruit that reflects which tree we belong to (Matt 7:16)!
A branch cannot effectively bear fruit without abiding and remaining attached to the Vine.
The word “abides” means, “to be held, kept continually, to remain as one.” It carries the same intimacy as a husband and wife relationship. It means, “to stay with, to wait.”
Yet, we tend to be restless. We tend to change jobs, careers, and marriage partners without much thought. No wonder we have a difficult time with abiding in Christ!
Jesus did not call you to Himself to just refresh you for a few hours! He called you to an intimate, enduring relationship with Him that lasts forever! He called you to a relationship where every moment of every day, you spend in fellowship with Him.
“Who would, after seeking the King’s palace, be content to stand in the door, when he is invited to dwell in the King’s presence and share with Him in all the glory of His royal life?” Andrew Murray
Don’t you long for that, my friend?
Does your heart not crave more and more intimacy with the True Vine?
Why do we feel disconnected and distant from God, rather than intimate?
One cannot abide without surrendering all to the Vine.
Many of us are not experiencing rest because we are striving to make our dreams come true instead of spending quiet, peaceful time with God. We are trying to reach our goals without Him. We seek guidance without consulting the Guide. We want the gift but ignore the Giver.
We are trying to abide on our own terms, not His. We spend little time in fellowship with Him; little time nurturing our intimacy with Him. We barely read His Word and rarely spend more time in prayer than it takes to send up a request for help to find a parking space! We fight His pruning and refuse to even acknowledge the sins in our life that are choking off our very life!
To abide in the True Vine requires two things of us as branches… trust and obedience. He will do the rest! His love empowers us. His faithfulness sustains us. We are able to abide in Him because He lives in us.
God will cultivate the inner fruit within our hearts (Gal 5:22) as we allow Him to transform us from the inside out.
So, let us submit to His pruning, taking care of our sin as He reveals it. Let us spend time getting to know Him better by reading His Word and praying. For if we do these things, as well as view every circumstance He allows in our life as His loving means to help us bear fruit, much fruit will be manifested! (II Cor 9:8).
Fruitfulness is not our obligation. Abiding is our obligation. Stop striving and start abiding and HE will make you fruitful!