The biblical image of the vine is very precious. It captures the life of real relationship that Jesus is calling us into. It serves as a potent image of fertility and hope. It provides foundations that are deeply rooted in God and the promise of abundance of fruit for all those that remain in the vine.
Such fruit accentuates the blessings God promises his people, his elect. They are his people not only because he loves them but also because he painstakingly prepares the land, plants and carefully protects it:
Now I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My beloved had a vineyard on a rich and fertile hill. He ploughed the land, cleared its stones, and planted it with the best vines. In the middle he built a watchtower and carved a winepress in the nearby rocks. Then he waited for a harvest of sweet grapes But the grapes that grew were bitter. (Isaiah 5:1-2)
Sadly, despite all of God’s efforts the fruit is not always as intended, it goes bad. Usually such tainted vines can only be destroyed and yet in Jesus we find an image of restoration and new fertility.
Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. (John 15:5)
By identifying himself as the vine Jesus claims fresh opportunities for participation in His life. He challenges us as we remain in him, and keep his promises, that we must seize these opportunities to grow, develop, and mature as his followers. This is not a task that he is calling us to rather it is a more intimate language of relationship. We should not strive towards achieving the fruits of the Spirit instead we ought to allow the Spirit to work in our lives and produce His fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). This transformation is a journey of a life time as each fruit develops in its time to be more Christ like. Colossians says that we are to:
Lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God. (Colossians 1:10)
As we remain in the vine and allow it to shape our lives we will experience and witness the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. ‘All of these things are the fruit of a life lived for Jesus and guided by the Holy Spirit.‘ (1)
Dunfermline West Baptist Church
Chalmers Street, Dunfermline