An Examination of John 15:1-8
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches.
He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” – John 15:1-8
Our excerpt today is from F.B. Hole’s Commentary on John (1947).
The surest proof that we are in Christ is that we abide in Christ; and the surest proof that we abide in Christ is that we produce fruit in life and service; the very character and ways of Christ coming out in us. Without Him we can do nothing. Abiding in Him there is much fruit; we are brought into communion with His mind so that we ask with liberty and have our desires granted, the Father is glorified, and our discipleship is proved genuine beyond all question.
It is a great privilege, as well as a great responsibility, to be left on earth to bear fruit; it is even a greater privilege to know ourselves to be the objects of divine love. The love of Jesus rested upon these disciples—and upon us also—just as the Father’s love rested upon Himself. In the knowledge, the consciousness, the enjoyment of His love we are to abide. This abiding is maintained by obedience to His commandments.
Words of Grace for Strength
The idea of “abiding in Christ” that we find in this passage is explained by the understanding that it is the Word of God (Jesus is the Word, See John 1:1-5), that is being spoken of. Abiding in the Word means living by the truths and doctrines of the Word. This takes place when the Word has taken deep root in the life of the disciple of Jesus Christ. He has a true affection for the Word, the Word is truly food for his soul. When the disciple of Jesus abides in the Word, he is able to know it, understand it, teach it, and stand fast in it.
This passage establishes this truth, abiding in Christ ensures fruitfulness. There is a general truth stated here when Christ says: “I am the vine.” But, it becomes personal to the disciple when Christ says; “You are the branches” because it brings each individual disciple into a connection with Christ. So now, the truth is made definite and becomes a personal application when we continue to examine His statement in verse 5; “He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.”
Jesus is not merely setting forth a law here, but instead is giving a promise that will be completed in the disciple by the action of Jesus Christ Himself. Notice when Christ is speaking of bearing fruit here, He says “much fruit.” The inference here is that as disciples we are not to be satisfied with a little fruit or immature fruit or shriveled up fruit. Instead, by abiding in Christ, the fruit we bear is plentiful, lush, sweet, and mature.
In other words, abiding in Christ will produce in the disciple, a character rich in the manifold graces of God which bears fruit. Indeed, those branches that are fruitless are taken away by the Father as the vinedresser in order to preserve the health of the fruitful vine, those who bear fruit are pruned, tended with loving care so as to allow even more fruit bearing as one grows more fruitful in Christ in one’s walking in faith with Him as a growing disciple.
So this union of the disciple with Christ as he or she abides in Christ produces fruitfulness which in the end glorifies God, and increases growth in the disciple. Christ’s life is all about glorifying God. Our lives also should be all about glorifying God. For our lives are not our own if we have truly given them to God when we accepted His gift of salvation. A mature, fruitful branch within the vine is now part of the vine; no distinction can be made of it as separate and apart from the vine itself, they grow as one.
Abiding in Christ means we are “In Christ” becoming every day more like Christ as His disciples. This discipleship will only be completed at the point in time we are ushered into the physical presence of Jesus Christ. As we live here in our earthly bodies we are in the continual process of becoming, His true disciples and servants.
If we bear much fruit because we are abiding in Him, the bearing of fruit will cause us to grow closer to Him and be more of a disciple, which in turn will cause us to bear more fruit. Discipleship in Christ produces character, and character produces conduct which rests not on the character of the disciple, but in the character of Jesus Christ.
When Christ’s Word abides in us it is more than intellectual understanding or acceptance of His Word. It means the entire consciousness of our very being is saturated with His desires, His affections, His understanding. In other words we have surrendered our will to His will.
This brings us then to verse 7. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.”
This must be understood not of temporal things such as riches or honors, profit, pleasure or anything that the natural man might desire, but of things spiritual which are limited by the restriction that what is promised, is, as according to the will of God. Christ in His earthly ministry cared little for physical comforts as long as physical needs were met. The true focus was on the spiritual needs and growth of those who had chosen to follow Him; for God is Spirit and will be with us in Spirit and in love.
When we look back to verse 3, we find the phrase “because of the word” which tells us how the working of the word is what has made us clean. Verse 4 then says “abide in Me, and I in you” and warns that we cannot bear fruit unless the disciple will “abide in Me.” Now in verse 7, again we read “If you abide in Me, My words abide in you,” which is significant in that it illustrates a position of obedience in the life of the disciple. “I in you” demonstrates that we are possessed of Christ, while “my words abide in you” demonstrates action on the part of the disciple to be a disciple.
In other words, the disciple has completely given his will to the will of God. In doing so, the disciple’s will is no longer his own, but instead is God’s will; what the disciple desires or asks for is what God desires for the disciple to receive. In verse 8 we are given the key to understanding this entire passage: “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” It is all about the fruit!
Our prayers should always reflect God’s will for us. What we should desire, what we should ask for, is to bear “much fruit” and in doing so we are accomplishing the will of God in our lives, and are becoming His disciples. A fruitful branch grows deeper into the vine (the Son), and is tended carefully by the vinedresser (the Father), and lives to produce fruit by the indwelling of God within us (the Holy Spirit).
Become His disciple and bear fruit!
Dr. Tuck Whitaker and Andy Coticchio
Rafter Cross Ministries