(The book of John takes us through many deep discussions that Jesus gave at various times in His ministry. Please click herefor Study #1 — Jesus and Nicodemus; Study #2 — The Woman at the Well; Study #3 — At the Pool of Bethesda; and Study #4 — Bread of Life; and Study #5 — The Shepherd and His Flock. The next 7 devotionals are from John chapter 15, and they focus on the lessons we can learn from Jesus’ famous discourse, “The Vine and the Branches.” )
Last week, in The Vine and the Branches, Part 6, we learned some vitally important steps for staying connected to “the Vine.” We have also learned in previous parts of this study that the reason we need to stay connected to the vine is so that we bear the fruit of the Spirit in order for the gospel message to be adequately spread to the lost world, and we have learned that the consequences of not bearing fruit are that we will be pruned back from the vine!
But is fruit-bearing the only benefit of staying connected to the vine?
Given that this reason is stated five times in as many verses, “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.”(John 15:1-5, NKJV)…and then is stated three more times in the next 11 verses, I would say that it is definitely the most important reason!
But is this the only reason to stay connected to Jesus?
Not according to Jesus!
In this famous discourse, Jesus goes on to mention 8 other benefits for staying connected to the vine:
1. “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.” (John 15:3, NKJV)
Jesus states here that abiding in the vine will make us “clean!”
2. “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 15:6)
Another wonderful benefit of abiding in Jesus is that we won’t be cast off. We won’t suffer hell fire. Now there’s a notable benefit!
3. “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7) and “…whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.” (John 15:16, NKJV)
Abiding in Jesus ensures that our prayers are answered! Why? Because when we abide in Him, then our will begins to resemble His, and we begin to pray according to His will, which has now become our will.
4. “By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15:6-8, NKJV)
Abiding in Jesus ensures we will be His disciples.
5. “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.” (John 15:9, NKJV)
Abiding in Jesus allows us to abide in His love.
6. “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11, NKJV)
Here Jesus is speaking of fullness of joy. Abiding in Jesus results in utmost, absolute, complete, unending joy.
7. “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends…” (John 15:14-15a)
Abiding in Jesus ensures that we are not His servants, but His friends. Isn’t it wonderful to think that the God of the universe is your friend?
8. “…for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15b)
Finally, abiding in Jesus ensures that we have access to knowing the will of God.
Now that’s quite a list of benefits! But to get this in perspective, we must remember that these benefits, as wonderful and desirable as they are, are only mentioned once each in the discourse. Thus, in light of the fact that fruit bearing is mentioned eight times, they must be considered “fringe” benefits. Bearing fruit is still considered the biggest benefit for staying connected to the Vine.
But why would this be considered a “benefit?” I mean, bearing the fruit of the Spirit and spreading the gospel take work. This doesn’t seem that appealing in a mentality that has learned to do things primarily for personal gain. Why would Jesus emphasize this eight times, and only mention the other benefits once?
Because Jesus knew something that we just can’t seem to comprehend. Jesus is trying to show us that when we, indeed, make our primary priority to draw others to Jesus by working on our fruit-bearing, only then do we make room for other, powerful fringe benefits to touch our lives. Thus, it is in giving that we find utmost joy, peace, and happiness.
It seems backwards, I know. But the truth is that it is in giving — and not in receiving — that we are filled.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. You can now follow me on Twitter!
(To access the rest of this mini-series, please click here.)