Much attention is given to the last words and advice from those who are approaching death.  That which is superfluous and inconsequential seems to pale into insignificance as one nears the final days and hours of this earthly life.  Our Lord took the occasion of His impending arrest to teach His disciples a most important lesson.  It is recorded for us in the Gospel of John in chapter fifteen. Judas Iscariot had left the room where the Last Supper was held to carry out his plan of betrayal.  Jesus and His eleven disciples depart from that upper room and pass along the Kidron Valley lined with its grape vineyards.  It is in this setting that the Teacher presents a magnificent lesson on abiding in Him.   John records the Lord’s opening statement … "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser” (John 15:1 NASB).  Note that in this opening statement there is no mention of the branches for two other persons are of greater importance.  The true vine, Jesus Christ, identifies Himself with the vinedresser, God the Father.  This is a reaffirmation of His Deity, for He has previously stated … “I and the Father are one.  The Jews took up stones again to stone Him” (Jn 10:30-31 NASB).  These eleven disciples have placed their faith in the Messiah of Israel.  That has sealed their eternal destiny making them a child of God through faith in Christ.  However, they need to advance spiritually past the point of salvation to become those whose life bears much spiritual fruit.  Jesus identifies three types of branches whose sole purpose is to bear the fruit.  The branch does not make the fruit, but only functions to bear the fruit that the vine produces.  Thus Jesus, in talking to his disciples, describes the three branches. These represent believers who are connected to the Vine.  Two of these believers are contrasted ... “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit” (Jn 15:2).  The third type of branch pictures a believer in Christ who continually fails to maintain fellowship, that is, to abide with the Vine. The Apostle John writes … “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (Jn 15:6).  There is no glorification of Christ in this wayward believer.  He ignores the discipline that God brings upon him and thus experiences much misery in life.  At the Judgment Seat of Christ there is loss of reward and his human production which glorified self is burned away (1 Cor 3:13-15). However, let’s return to the first two believers, both abiding in Christ, but one is fruitful and the other unfruitful.  Recall that the branch bearing fruit is pruned by the vinedresser so that it might bear even more fruit.  The unfruitful vine appears to have been damaged, perhaps by the circumstances and storms of life.  The result is a lack of fruit bearing causing the vinedresser to take away or lift up [“airo”] the branch.  B. Rigby comments that the latter meaning of “airo” is preferred and is in keeping with the actions of the vinedresser as he lifts up those branches that have fallen to the ground or have been damaged so that they can once again be exposed to the light of the sun [Son] and bear fruit.  What a marvelous picture of God’s love and grace toward those who are His.  He desires every branch to bear fruit to His glory; therefore He prunes and nurtures the healthy branches. He is compassionate toward those damaged branches, a picture, at times, of each of us, so that once again we might experience that wonderful fellowship of abiding in the Vine and bear fruit.  The Apostle Paul, when writing to the churches in Galatia stated …  “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law” (Gal 5:22-23 NASB).  This is the fruit that represents Christ to the world, and He invites all mankind to “taste of the kindness of the Lord” (I Peter 2:3).

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