Jesus holds up fruit-bearing as a prerequisite for glorifying God, which is the chief end of man. If we want to live as Jesus’ disciples, we must bear fruit (15:8). I’m not sure John 15 could be clearer. Bearing fruit is essential to the Christian life.
When I was just a little guy, my parents planted a peach tree in our back yard. The tree grew as I grew. By the time I turned seven, the first few peaches appeared on that tree. I was so excited. However, the next year, we moved from that home. I never got to enjoy the fruit from that tree again, but someone did because that tree kept on bearing fruit.
- If you plant a peach tree, you have failed if the tree does not produce peaches.
- If you plant of field of wheat, you have failed if heads of grain do not appear.
- If you plant a grape vine, you have failed if it does not bear grapes.
In John 15, Jesus is about to leave His disciples. They will carry on Jesus’ work in His absence. As He walks from Jerusalem to the garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal, Jesus guides the disciples past the grape vines. He uses the scene around them to teach His people the key to bearing fruit—we must abide in Christ.
In this passage, Jesus provides a logical progression:
- To glorify God and demonstrate that you are Jesus’ disciple, you must bear fruit. (15:8)
- To bear fruit, you must abide in Christ (15:4–5).
- To abide in Christ, you must keep in ongoing communication with Him (15:7–8).
In my next few posts, I will address each of these items. Here, we will begin with fruit.
What is Fruit?
Jesus does not directly define what he means by fruit in John 15. The disciples probably made a connection between what Jesus was saying and passages like Isaiah 5:1–7 where God compared Israel to a vine that produced wild grapes.