home > Pastor’s Desk > 2024 > May 17th > 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.


Online Discipleship Facilitator,


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This year we have been laying a foundation for knowing God and then each Sunday building upon it. Throughout June we are focusing on how knowing God enables us to find our joy in Him and consequently to discover that He enables us to find joy in our relationships with others. But sadly, for many people who have vowed to love, serve, and follow Jesus, this has not always been easy to do. This is why the current sub-theme of humility is critically important if someone desires to truly experience joy in each of their various relationships with others. 


In the past few months, we have been hearing in Church and also by reading the Pastor’s Desks that through the Psalms and by the Fruit of the Holy Spirit, we can know God more. The Psalms show God as our Shepherd, God’s character is unchanging, we can be still and know Him, and that He is poetic. The Fruit of the Spirit reminds us that God is faithful, gentle and kind, and that we need to stay close to Him in the same way a baby gets nutrients from its mother through the umbilical cord. Knowing these things, we can become more like God as He helps us outwork His character in our lives. Philippians 3:10 challenged me in this regard some time ago.


What comes to mind when you hear the word Rules? For some, it is a welcome relief to all the chaos surrounding us. Rules can provide comfort, safety, stability, predictability and protection. But for many others, as soon as you hear the word rules, it causes you to sigh loudly, followed by the instant urge to do the opposite. It can cause an immense sense of frustration along with that feeling of being boxed or caged in. Then some rules are plain silly as they make no sense, or there appears to be no apparent reason for why the rule/s exists in the first place. 

Knowing God Through The Fruit Of The Spirit

I’m sure you can picture an occasion where food delicacies are served and someone is there who has lost all sense of decorum to the point of being rude to get to the food before others and is unable or unwilling to engage in any level of conversation for the sake of finding the choicest of foods. Maybe that was you or me on occasions. Or an All You Can Eat challenge restaurant. It is a picture of complete lack of self-restraint (especially if Homer Simpson is involved). Whilst we are away, I am looking forward to visiting a town (Kenilworth) with a bakery tourist attraction that sells 1kg doughnuts. I’m not sure what will happen there, but I can imagine many have risen to a challenge.


Australia is now grappling with a national crisis — the violent abuse of women by men. Every four days in Australia a woman is being murdered [Source]. The sad probability is that she was murdered by “a current or former intimate partner” [Source]. But added to this alarming statistic is the even greater and more horrifying statistic of number of women who are experiencing abuse – physical; sexual; verbal; financial; psychological – daily. In fact, it is so prevalent that most people working in this arena know that most domestic abuse incidents in Australia are not reported. Abuse is oppression. And since the Bible is so clear and consistent in its condemnation of oppression of the vulnerable you would naturally assume that this national crisis was being thundered and denounced as a great evil from the majority of pulpits around our country at the moment. This assumption is further reinforced by the guesstimate that one-in-four women in every Australian church is regularly abused in some way by a man. But I suspect that it is not.


My cat, Lola, had a beautiful, fluffy, soft coat. I had her for 13 years so I knew her very well. She loved a cuddle and snuggling at night sleeping in the crook of my arm. She loved me but with others she could be a rascal, hissing or swiping her claws. She never scoffed her food but was a grazer. It was common to hear her crunching her biscuits for a midnight snack and she loved ice cream. She loved hiding in cardboard boxes or in the pantry. She particularly hated the car evidenced by her continual mournful meowing til she got out. As I knew her, she also knew me. She knew I would feed her and give her pats or cuddles. When I called her she knew my soft voice, my touch, my smell. She knew my growly voice when she had done the wrong thing. When I’d take her to the vet she would be still in my arms as the vet examined her and vaccinated her. If she was injured or sick I would look after her.


The Bible is an amazing book. As we look through the book of Psalms we can so unbelievably clearly see God at work. And also most poignantly, this Psalm – Psalm 22 – prophetically points to, and closely mirrors Jesus and the events of the cross mentioned in the New Testament. This Psalm is well over 1000 years prior to Jesus.There are some well known passages of Scripture that stand out as being prophetic promises of the Messiah. These prophetic words show us that God is Omniscient; He knows everything. The first Messianic prophecy shows that the seed of the woman would eventually defeat the devil.


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So many thriller movies are just funny. Of course they are not meant to be and many people would find them more like nightmare material. The producers would be horrified to see me giggling at some of their ‘scary’ bits, but it’s just the way I’m wired. I see more of the special effects than the story line and I see the absurdity of the scenes that lack the necessary rules of consistency instead of the fear factor they hope. I once watched a movie where the victim lay dead bleeding from the mouth but the make-up blood had not dripped to the ground with gravity, but rather, accidentally dripped up. The whole movie just became hilarious from that point on.


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