In one of my visits home to the southern part of Brazil, I visited a vineyard. Grapes hold a deep significance and are a source of pride for those who live in that part of the country. The southern part of Brazil is known around the world for its amazing vineyards, which are the source of the most delicious grape juice and some of the richest wines!
During my visit I had what turned out to be a spiritual experience. It was harvest time, so the owner of the farm, a family friend, allowed me to harvest the grapes with the workers. He instructed me to eat as many grapes as I wanted while I harvested, and whatever I didn’t eat I could place in a basket to be sold. Since having that experience in the vineyard, I began to deeply love the passage of John chapter 15, and it has become one of those passages that keeps giving me new insight every time I turn to it. So I would like to share a few of these new perceptions that the LORD has opened my eyes to see.
The first insight is in relation to bearing fruit. I know it is very clearly stated in the passage, but it took the Holy Spirit speaking directly to my spirit to truly grasp that to live a fruitful life I need to do only one thing: remain in Jesus. Scripture does not say, “Work harder on bearing fruit.” It does not say, “Fix what is wrong.” It does not say, “Be more devoted or more disciplined.” Instead, Jesus simply says, “Remain in Me.” Remain in all the He is – in His love, in His truth, in His power, in His person! “Remain in Me and you WILL bear fruit.” I don’t need to worry about the fruit. The fruit will be inevitable!
Another insight is about the fruit itself. The fruit Jesus describes is not success or positive results that come from what we do, but the fruit is what His life bears within us. The fruit is truly the life of God, His character, His love being born in us for the world to see. The successful results we so strive for are really an extra blessing that we might get to enjoy while we remain in complete connection and dependency on the life of Jesus.
Last is the reality that apart from Him, apart from His life-giving self, we can do nothing. There is nothing like good fruit – fruit that wasn’t rushed to ripen, harvested at the right time, fruit that is fresh! – and it would be so silly for anyone to imagine this fruit existing without its tree. It would go against the laws of nature. I would be irrational, illogical and childish to think that a piece of fruit would just show up, out of nowhere. And I have wondered in my own life and in my own ministry what would be different if I truly considered in each moment how irrational, illogical and childish it is for me to think that I can produce anything of any value to the Kingdom on my own.
So this passage has once again encouraged me to Remain in Jesus, to allow Him to be my source, and I hope that it encourages you as well.