In John 15 is the well known section where Jesus illustrates that he is the true vine (as opposed to Israel, Jesus is perfectly faithful) and we are the branches, we are to abide. Our word “abide” is to remain, to stay with. In other words, don’t leave Jesus for sin – stay with him, trust him that his words (commandments) are truly better for us than sin.
What I was struck by this morning was how many times we see the words “bear fruit.” I would say clearly the focus of this passage is the instruction to bear fruit for the glory of God. Yet, quite often we hear other things emphasized more strongly in this passage – things that are about us. How many times have you heard emphasis on v7 “…ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you”? (As if God is a genie to grant all our wishes) Or v11 “…that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (as if feeling happy is our main goal in life) Joy is good, but we can’t disconnect it from the source of joy and the main focus of the passage.
If we call ourselves his disciples we are to faithfully stay near to him, not depart his side for sin, act in obedience to his word and bear fruit for his glory – in this is our abundant joy as we then are fulfilling the purpose for which he made us!
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:7-11 ESV)
What does it mean practically to bear fruit? Scripture is chock full of describing the fruits – but a good quick reference is the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Jesus says that his disciples bear much fruit…are our lives full of much of these things? If not, pray that they will be and get after them!