“Little children,” Jesus said to His twelve apostles, “I will be with you for only a little while longer. Where I am going you cannot come.”
The apostles were heartbroken. They loved Jesus. They had walked and talked and traveled and worked with Him for three-and-a-half years. Now He said He was leaving them!
They still did not understand that to save them and everyone who would ever believe in Him, Jesus must die and rise again. Jesus wanted His friends to know that even though He would no longer walk and talk with them each day. He would always be with them. They would always receive strength from Him.
Just as children grow into adults, the apostles were to grow up in their understanding of the Kingdom of God. Jesus wanted to tell them how they could grow spiritually.
As they walked outside the city in the cool, clear night, they passed a grapevine with strong branches and big, green leaves. They could see the clusters of little green grapes that would grow into large bunches of purple fruit.
Jesus showed the vine to the apostles. “I am the vine,” He said, “and you are the branches.” He wanted them to know He would always be with them, “even to the end of the world.” Jesus and His followers would always be joined as closely as the vine and its branches, even after He returned to heaven.
“Live in Me and I will live in you, and you will bear much fruit,” Jesus told His apostles. “The branch cannot bear fruit by itself, but only when it grows from the vine. You cannot bear fruit unless you live in Me.”
The strong vine reaches down into the earth and gets food and water. It brings the food and water up to the branches. They carry it out to the bunches of grapes, which grow bigger and bigger.
All our strength comes from God. Any good thing we do or think or say comes from God. The branches of the grapevine can grow and produce grapes, only when they are attached to the vine. We can grow up spiritually, only if we remain attached to Jesus.
As they talked, Jesus told His apostles how to remain attached to Him as the branches to the vine. “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do,” He told them. We must trust Him for spiritual growth just as much as we trust Him to forgive us. We don’t have to try to grow all by ourselves. If we ask Him to live in our hearts and make us like Him, He will do it.
Without Jesus in our hearts, we are as useless as a branch that is cut off from the grapevine. Jesus said if we separate ourselves from Him we will wither away like branches that have been cut off. We will never bear fruit that way.
But if we think about ourselves, about our helplessness and our failures, we will get discouraged and give up. We can’t grow that way, either. To grow in Christ, we must keep our eyes on Him. We should read the Bible to learn what He did and what He was like when He lived on earth. We should think about His strength and power and love. And we should ask Him to live in us and make us grow to be like Him.
Jesus made another promise to His apostles and to all people who believe in Him. Because He could no longer walk and talk with His friends, Jesus said He would send a Helper. “He will abide with you forever,” Jesus said. “He is the Spirit of Truth, and He dwells in you.”
What a wonderful promise! How happy the apostles were to know Jesus would not leave them alone.
“The Helper, the Holy Spirit, will teach you all things,” Jesus said. Now the Holy Spirit will help us to understand what we read in the Bible. He will help us to let Jesus into our hearts to make us like Him. When we let Jesus live in us, our lives will change. We will think about different things. Some things that used to be important won’t matter any more. We will be seeking His kingdom above all things.
We will act and speak differently. We will bear the fruits of the Spirit. The Bible lists some of these fruits: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, righteousness and truth.
Don’t these sound like wonderful fruits? Wouldn’t you like to know a person who had all these qualities? Jesus is like that. And when we let Him take over our lives, we will become more like Him everyday.
Other people will see His fruits in us and they will be drawn to Him, too. Then we will be bearing another kind of fruit. The people who come to Jesus through us are called fruits of the harvest.
When we give all our heart and will and service to Jesus, He will live in us and will help us to harvest souls for His kingdom. We will be workers with Him. He will fill us with His strength and blessing and love.
All life comes from God. Plants, animals and people need many things to grow. The Bible uses these needs to show how God helps us grow spiritually. 1 Peter 2:2 tells us what new Christians are like. In Ephesians 4:15 we learn what Christians must do. What is the Lord called in Isaiah 60:19, in Psalm 84:11 and in John 6:33? What does Jesus give us to drink? Find the answer in John 4:10 and 14. Nine fruits of the Spirit are listed in Galatians 5:22 and 23 and Ephesians 5:9 names some more. Read about the fruit of the harvest in John 4:34-36.
These words of Jesus to His apostles and to us are our Treasure Chest Verse:
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit.” John 15:5