Jesus uses the example of a branch in a vine to demonstrate the relationship between Him and us (John 15:1-8). Jesus is the vine; we are the branches and God the Father plays the part of the husbandman.
The illustration is simple enough, as the branches we cannot survive away from the vine. The keeper of the vineyard, the husbandman, prunes the branches from time to time to help them bring forth more fruit.
If you are a Christian, you are a branch in the vine of Christ. If you are not a Christian, you are not a branch in the vine of Christ. “For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes” – Luke 6:44.
In the middle of the story, Christ speaks of us bringing forth fruit; in fact, He talks about us bringing forth “much fruit.” “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:4-5). Also, as already mentioned, He tells us the reason the Father purges the branches is for the purpose of bringing more fruit (John 15:2).
What is this fruit? Christ doesn’t give us any particular details of the fruit here in John, but the Bible does speak of fruit every Christian should have. Galatians 5:22-23, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
These fruits of the Spirit are progressive. You can’t just pluck a few off the list. Can anyone have true peace in their lives without love and joy? Can we suffer long in a godly way without love, joy, and peace?
Here is how it works. When a person has saving faith and receives everlasting life (John 3:16), the Holy Spirit comes and dwells inside of them (Romans 8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:16). This action places them in Christ; they are now a branch grafted into the vine. The Husbandman, God the Father, now works in the vineyard. He will prune the branches from time to time to help them produce more fruit.
In practical terms, once a person is saved God will work in an individual’s life to cut back on the unnecessary or unwanted things to cultivate the fruits of the Spirit in their life.
Don’t forget the fruits of the spirit are progressive, so the first thing God will work on is our love.
When Jesus gave us the illustration of the vine and the branches (John 15:1-8); as soon as the illustration is finished He talks about love, the first of the fruits. John 15:9-10, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.”
Again, showing the fruits are progressive, in the very next verse Jesus teaches about joy, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you and that your joy might be full” (John 14:11). Without the love, there could be no joy. The fruits are progressive.
Please notice the connection between loving God and keeping His commandments. In fact, earlier in the conversation, Jesus put it bluntly to the Apostles, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). When we love someone we want to make them happy, we don’t want to disappoint them or make them angry. Just as we are disappointed and sometimes angered at our children when they do things they shouldn’t, God is disappointed and angry at us when we break His commandments. By mingling love and keeping His commandments together so firmly, God is expressing to us His desire that we follow Him because we love Him and not for other reasons.
When we obey Him because we love Him, we follow His word not out of a fear of punishment or even a sense of duty, but because we do not want to disappoint Him. We obey because we want to make Him happy; we obey because we love Him.
As a Christian how much fruit does your branch produce?