Weekly Devotional - March 29, 2017

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5) Scripture Reading – II Corinthians 1:3-11

The fruit produced by the branch is the same kind as the vine. It would be really weird if the branches of a grape vine produced oranges. The more we abide in Christ, the more we produce the fruit of Christ and will look like Christ. If we are continually abiding in Him, then what we desire will be the same as what Christ desires. The branches abiding in the vine cannot do anything on their own. Think of what would happen if the branch said, “I don’t want to remain in this vine anymore. I don’t want to produce grapes. I want to grow oranges.” Once the branch stopped being in the vine it would not produce oranges, but would immediately die. Abiding in the vine means producing the fruit of the vine.

But so often we do something similar to this by trying to dictate to God what we will do. We tell the Lord, “This is my dream. This is what I want to do with my life,” even though God has a completely different plan for us. In order to submit to God’s plan for our lives, we must first deny ourselves and the desires of our heart. God isn’t happy with just any type of fruit. The fruit that pleases the heart of God is the fruit that reflects the character and work of Christ. For this to happen, we must deny ourselves in the same way that Jesus denied Himself. Instead of pursuing earthly status and comfort, we seek first the kingdom of God. And in doing so, the Father is glorified.

It’s interesting to note the type of fruit Jesus chooses in this parable. Of all the plants that produce fruit, Jesus chose the grape vine to describe our relationship with Him. Why didn’t Jesus say, “I am the jackfruit tree”? Why did He say, “I am the grape vine”? You would have thought that Jesus would have picked a strong and mighty tree. I can’t think of a more interesting tree in the entire world than the jackfruit tree even though it produces one of the ugliest-looking fruits imaginable. Instead of being smooth, the fruit is lumpy with strange nodes on the skin. However, the fruit tastes delicious. Each fruit can weigh up to 35 kilograms. This means that that branches on the jackfruit tree must be able to support a very heavy weight. If the branches are not strong, they will bend to the earth as the fruit grows and eventually break off.

Yet, Christ didn’t describe our relationship with Him with a picture of a jackfruit tree. He, instead, chose the grape vine. Even without fruit, the grape vine’s branches are so weak that they must be tied up to wire so they won’t fall to the ground. These branches have no strength in and of themselves to support their own weight. And this is without the added weight of the leaves and fruit. Jesus is giving us a realistic picture of our ourselves. We are incapable of producing spiritual fruit in and of ourselves. We don’t have the strength to win in this spiritual battle. And even when we try to serve in our own strength, Satan opposes us with his much greater strength. Therefore if we don’t constantly abide in Christ and draw our strength from Him, we will not bear fruit.

The secret to bearing much fruit is abiding in the vine and being fully aware that we are weak and incapable of producing fruit on our own. You and I are not so special that we can do something for God in our own strength. Abiding in Christ is all about depending completely on Christ in every area of your life. If we try to bear fruit in our own strength, we will certainly fail. Fruit that lasts is only the result of the life of Christ working through us. That’s why Jesus said, “I am the vine.” Whose strength are you serving in? Your strength or Christ’s strength?

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