BRANCHES

By Cougan Collins

lgchurchofchrist@cableone.net

 

Have you ever thought of yourself as a branch? It may sound silly but in John 15:1-6, Jesus uses the analogy of a vine and branches to describe the relationship that He shares with His followers:

 

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned (John 15:1-6).

 

Let us see what lessons we can glean from this analogy. We need to understand that these branches are not referring to denominations as some like to teach because there were no denominations in the first century (1 Cor. 1:10-13). These branches refer to individual Christians. As Jesus said, "you are the branches".

 

Since we are the branches, what is our relationship to Jesus? Jesus called Himself the "true vine". Just as a vine supplies all of it branches with the nutrients they need to produce fruit, Jesus supplies all of His followers with what they need to produce spiritual fruit that will be pleasing to God. What is this fruit?

 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law (Gal. 5:22-23)

 

As a Christian, we must strive to produce the fruits of the Spirit, but we cannot do this unless we have been grafted into the true vine by becoming a Christian. One becomes a Christian by hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17), believing Jesus is the Son of God (Jn. 8:24), repenting (Lk. 13:3), confessing Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9-10), and by being baptized into Christ for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38; 22:16). One is put into Christ or we could say grafted into the true vine at the point of baptism (Gal. 3:27; Rom. 6:3).

 

We also learn that when the branches produce fruit it says that the Father "prunes" them so they can bring forth more fruit. When we live in such a way that we are producing spiritual fruit, God, through His providence, and the teaching of His Word, will help us to thrive (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet. 1:3).

 

Finally, we would be remiss if we did not mention the consequences of not producing fruit. Jesus says that the branch that does not produce is thrown into the fire. A branch that does not produce fruit is a burden on the rest of the plant. Therefore, the vinedresser (the Father) cuts that branch off so the others can flourish. If we do not produce good fruit in our lives as we serve God, we will be cut off. The question is, are you a branch that is producing fruit or one that is about to be cut off. We invite you to worship and study with us to learn more about first century Christianity lgchurchofchrist.com.

 

Adapted from Ralph Price.