home > Pastor’s Desk > 2024 > May 17th > The Vine and the Umbilical Cord: Life, Abiding and Bearing Fruit

 

THE VINE AND THE UMBILICAL CORD:
LIFE, ABIDING AND BEARING FRUIT

 

Jesus’ allegory in John 15:1-17 of the vine and the branches provides a beautiful picture of the intimate and living relationship available to those who would abide in Him, the true Vine; and it illustrates how naturally the Holy Spirit is able to produce fruit in the lives of those who are willing to be branches abiding in the vine.

 

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 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 15:4-5

 

The vital connection existing between the stem of a grapevine and the branches which grow out from the stem shares a certain similarity to the life-giving connection a foetus has to the mother through the umbilical cord. Before each of us was born, while still in utero, we relied on the umbilical cord to provide a life-sustaining connection to the placenta and our mother. Without this connection we would have lacked a way to receive the life-sustaining oxygen and nutrients we needed to grow, or to filter out the carbon dioxide and waste products which, if not eliminated, would have proved toxic. For an unborn baby the umbilical cord is vital. In some respects, we can say life is in the cord. The imagery Jesus uses in John 15 as He speaks with His disciples shows that for the Christian ‘The Vine’ is vital. Life is in the Vine, and to quote Jesus Himself: He is “the true vine.”

 

“And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
1 John 5:11-12

Jesus uses repetition to emphasise the importance of abiding in Him; as well as the import of having His words, love and commands abiding in those who follow Him. The bi-directional nature of this abiding helps highlight the union possible between Christ and those who love Him, and the intimate relationship available to those who know God.

The gospels provide a window into some of the ways Jesus actively maintained His union and connection with His Father. We can learn from these examples. Firstly, Jesus often withdrew to a solitary place to pray and spend time with His Father (Luke 5:16)  and (Luke 6:12) tells us that before calling the twelve disciples Jesus spent the night praying to His Father. Jesus made it a habit to invest regularly in His relationship with His Father by frequently withdrawing for prayer; and He invested a significant amount of time in the relationship. We can also learn from the willing obedience of Jesus and how He attentively listened to His Father. John 5:19 tells us Jesus did not do anything by Himself and could only do what He saw His Father doing. Do we tune our ear to Him regularly enough that we recognise His voice and leading? And do we willingly obey when we hear?

When we as believers abide in Christ the sap of His righteousness flows into our life, naturally causing us to bear fruit – we begin to bear the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:22-23), the fruit of righteousness (Phil 1:11) and the fruit of light (Eph 5:9). As a result, our lives, and not only our lives but the lives of others, are transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God thereby extending God’s kingdom.

 

 

Why is fruit the natural outcome of abiding in Christ? Because we receive from Him that which is of Him.

Marcus Dods in The Gospel of St. John (1892) says: “What we expect to receive by being connected with Christ is the very Spirit which made Him what He was.” (p181)

It is through us that Christ sends His fruit into the world. Can I encourage you to actively abide in Christ by fostering a living connection with the word of God. If you have the words of Christ abiding in you, they will start to outwork by the power of the Holy Spirit as fruit which takes the form of deep-seated character and lifestyle change resulting in a righteousness made manifest through obeying the commands of Jesus and loving others as He loved us. The sap of His life and love will flow through you. Others will see this displayed in your life and may come to know Christ.

Why not start by reading and meditating on one simple Bible verse this week with the aim of memorising it, allowing it to become part of a scriptural treasury deep within your heart. Allow God to transform you by His word and then bring forth His fruit.

Amen.

Online Discipleship Facilitator,

Kate.

Let me know what you think below in the comment section and feel free to share this someone who might benefit from this Pastor’s Desk.

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