Focus on Jesus Series
Gethsemane and the Cup of Wrath
by Ed Vasicek
Jesus compared Himself to a vine and His followers to branches. Ron Moseley (Yeshua, A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church) comments upon this figure:
At the time of Christ, a golden grapevine was draped across the four columns at the entrance to the Temple. Josephus records that its beauty was such that it was known as a 'marvel of size and artistry to all who saw with what costliness of material it had been constructed.' The Mishnah [a collection of ancient Jewish rabbinic writings] says that people would sometimes make a freewill offering by purchasing a golden leaf, berry, or cluster which the priests would attach to the vine. Often those who gave generously to the Temple had their names inscribed on the golden leaves. This was a custom that all were familiar with in Jerusalem. When Jesus depicted Himself as the True Vine, He was undoubtedly contrasting Himself with this artificial vine, suggesting that if the disciples would offer themselves to Him to the degree that people offered their substance to this golden symbol, the result would be abundant spiritual fruit.
The use of the term “fruit” is common in the New Testament. It denotes the produce of spiritual maturity: virtues, influences for the Kingdom, depth of character and spirit. The genuine Christian produces good fruit; the counterfeit Christian does not. Fruit does not make a plant good or evil, but it merely reveals the nature of the plant (or branch). Lack of fruit or poor fruit denotes insincerity and a hard heart. Note some of the uses of the word “fruit” in the New Testament.
Matthew 7:16 “By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles?”
Matthew 21:43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
John 15:8 “This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Romans 7:4 “So, my brothers, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit to God.”
Galatians 5:22 “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness....”
As is plain to see, God’s goal for us is to BEAR FRUIT. Or, to put it another way, we exist to glorify God, and we glorify God by bearing fruit. Although “fruit” does include reaching others for Christ and expanding the Kingdom, fruit-bearing is not so much about achievement as it is developing spiritual depth. Fruit is what God and others can see in our lives, the result of the Spirit of God conforming us to the image of Christ.
Highland Park Church
516 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, Indiana, USA