Christians are to be not just faithful but fruitful. Jesus said, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:8).
In his small volume simply titled Meditation, Jim Downing paints a beautiful picture of the fruitful Christian. He points out that for every New Testament truth, there is an Old Testament illustration, or picture. Jesus’ familiar discourse about the vine and the branches in John 15 has an Old Testament picture in Jeremiah 17:7, 8:
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit."
This tree in Jeremiah’s illustration faced severe heat and drought. However, despite adverse conditions, it remained green and yielded fruit in its season. What was the tree’s secret? It spread its roots by the river, tapping into the life-giving nourishment it needed.
This vividly illustrates Jesus’ words in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” Through day-by-day connection with Jesus, we share His life and bear His fruit, regardless of our circumstances. This is the picture of the fruitful Christian.
By examining the rings on the stump of a fallen tree, we can know its age. But these rings reveal even more. Large rings indicate that nourishment was plentiful that year; narrow rings reflect years of drought.
Phillips’ translation renders John 15:5 “It is the man who shares my life and whose life I share who proves fruitful.” It’s been discovered that a small amount of nourishment sustains what life is already in the tree. When the nourishment is more than the tree needs to sustain its life, the tree grows. But if the nourishment is over and above what is needed to sustain life and cause growth, it is transformed into fruit. Fruit, then, is excess life!
This sheds new light on another familiar saying of Jesus: “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10, NKJV). To have abundant life is to have life in excess — not just enough to stay alive and to grow, but surplus life that becomes fruit.
(Reproduced, in part, from the Bible Advocate, December 2008.)