John 15:1-8; Galatians 5:22-23; James 3:17
At the end of the day, how are the branches on the vine?
traveled many miles with lots of smiles, but
have the branches been online with the Vine?
the nectar flowing from the Vine into the mind
the aim, to be inline with the source, The Divine,
The Word, The Bread of life, The Shepherd, The Living Water
Remarkably, all that HE is, can be all that we are.
Sad to say, the chosen people of a former day
took it upon themselves, their Choice of God to betray
a brood of evildoers, given to corruption (Isa 1:4)
God’s just response, death and destruction (Isa 10:22-23)
End of story? Good news! Out of nowhere came hope and restoration
like a hen seeking to gather her chicks under her wings, yet they refused
The result, devastating desolation (Luke 13:34-35)
It was time for the vine to be redefined—a new vine, the True Vine
ethnicity, heredity, genealogy, geography, no longer the issue
A new day dawning, the Son-rise of all sunrises appearing on the horizon
new connection, re-connection, divine direction
The vineyard, now with potential for verdant branches and abundant fruit
while the lifeless twigs of a former day, cut off, burned to ashes
But branches with advances—budding, blossoming, blooming, fruit-bearing
manifesting love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control, purity, yes, purity
peace-loving, considerate of others, merciful, impartial, sincere
Ashes or advances—it all depends on being online and inline
the branches attached to the Divine Vine
Life Application Questions
Stories with life-changing turbulence flow from Jesus like waters over Niagara’s falls. Truth tumbles over and into the lives of those around him. Some stories (today’s passage), are immediately understood by everyone. Some of his stories are meant to disguise spiritual truths (Matthew 13:11-16).
The story we read today begins simply: “Jesus then began to speak to them in parables: ‘A man planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a pit for the winepress and built a watchtower” (Mark 12:1).
Our Lord insists a familiar Scripture (to his first-century listeners) provides the story’s application. It is a soul-disturbing picture of Messiah’s acceptance and rejection. “The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:22-23).
We should always remember that each of Jesus’ initial disciples were Jews. Yet, other members of Abraham’s extended family rejected Jesus as Messiah. Using stories and parables individuals were blessed with spiritual insight, becoming disciples. The rejecter’s considered scandalous the inference that Jesus might be Messiah. Mark’s Gospel reports: “Then the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders looked for a way to arrest him because they knew he had spoken the parable against them” (Mark 12:12)
The drama, turmoil, and eventually Jesus’ death, are each part of the accounts, stories, and parables recounted in the Gospels. Some of these we find refreshing and life-giving. As disciples, we agree Jesus is like Niagara’s waters. He is the spiritual river-source of our lives (John 4). Other parables leave us reminded that we too, sometimes live like prodigal children having run from the One sent by the Father (Luke 15:11-32).
How does this parable help you when dealing with people who do not honor Jesus as Messiah?
An online resource for a listing of Jesus’ teaching through parables is available at: https://www.kevinhalloran.net/a-complete-list-of-jesus-parables-in-the-new-testament/
Matthew 3:7-10, 7:15-20; 12:33
When I was a child, we had many fruit trees in our yard. Several of the trees had really good fruit. We enjoyed delicious applesauce and our favorite—cherry jam. Part of having an orchard required discerning the fruit and trees. After picking the ripened fruit, we had to discern between the good fruit for preserving and the bad for the garbage. Even as kids, we understood the trees that didn’t bear good fruit were going to be cut down and made into firewood.
Jesus taught about fruit and trees, but it wasn’t a lesson in agriculture. He called out the Pharisees and Sadducees for their bad fruit, saying, produce fruit in keeping with repentance (3:7-8), and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (3:10). Jesus warned the disciples to watch out for false prophets…by their fruit, you will recognize them…a bad tree cannot bear good fruit…Thus by their fruit, you will recognize them (7:15-20). Jesus also said A tree is recognized by its fruit (12:33).
So how do we discern a bad fruit tree? Many of our trees had beautiful leaves and a sturdy trunk. But when harvest time was drawing near, on the bad trees, there was no good fruit. Jesus said, Abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me (John 15:4).
First, we must know the real thing, the good tree, the good fruit. To be an expert in the real thing, we must immerse ourselves in the Word of God. Satan used Scripture to tempt Jesus, but he twisted it. Do we know the Scriptures well enough to identify a twisting of the Word? Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved…who accurately handles the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15). See 2 Peter 1:4-11 for further insight into how to escape the corruption that is in the world.
Bearing good fruit and being a good fruit inspector come from abiding in the source. This takes effort, much like looking over the fruit several times—like the Bereans who search(ed) the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true (Acts 17:11). It involves regular researching of the Scriptures and examination of the lives of the false teachers to discern the bad apples.
Why all this focus on good fruit and good trees? Jude warned Certain persons have crept in unnoticed… persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord Jesus Christ (Jude 3–4 NASB). Peter’s warning was similar: False prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them, the way of truth will be maligned.
Why is this important today? If we are to be a flourishing vineyard, we need to humbly discern between the good fruit and the bad fruit.
Life Application Questions
Isaiah 27: 2-6
Welcome to our class on Fruit Bearing. We will have some guest speakers to help us learn how to get the most out of our spiritual vineyards. Our first guest is a renowned leader. He is known for his care of the oppressed and his leadership skills; He has been a voice for the people’s freedom from oppressive leadership. He has been a world traveler, most recently in Egypt. Yahweh has told him, “…I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires, you will be King…”(1 Kings 11:37) Our speaker has created his own vineyard where he is the keeper of the vines. Please welcome Jeroboam to our class. In his own words, “…he thought to himself, ‘the kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. If these people go up to offer sacrifices…in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to Rehoboam…”(1 Kings 12: 28)
Scholars, our speaker will tell you that the moment, he claimed the kingdom for himself, fear drove his thinking, God was removed from the equation, and the vineyard could no longer flourish. What captivated our speaker, Jeroboam’s heart fueled his actions. What has captivated your heart and fueled your actions? God, himself, tried to provide direction for our guest speaker, “If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right…by obeying my decrees and commands. I will build you a dynasty…” (1 Kings 11:38) Unfortunately, our guest, Jeroboam chose his own way to bear fruit and his tale is a cautionary one for our class members.
Our next speaker in our class is an older gentleman. He seems to be traveling far and wide with his message. His sandals are dusty from travel and his voice seems hoarse. He has been busy trying to get the word out about some “wild grapes” and a legitimate vineyard. He has not been very popular with the leadership of his country. He delivers a lot of dread warnings that threaten the demise of the vineyard. Students, our guest has been quick to compare God to the careful and industrious cultivator of a vineyard-Israel. “..Then He looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.” (Isaiah 5:2) Our guest speaker, Isaiah, will not only rail against spiritual corruption, but he also delivers a message of future hope. The Lord is the keeper of the vineyard, he waters it and guards it. “Sing about a fruitful vineyard…” (Isaiah 27:3)
God will determine that Israel will leave behind her “wild grape” days and become a fruit bearer.
Let’s meet our third guest for Fruit Bearing 101, let’s give him a warm welcome. This man has walked the dusty roads of Galilee and been an eye witness to miracles, hardship, and the Messiah. He is reporting to us, an eyewitness account, from Jesus, on how to become fruit bearers. Be sure to take notes, this will be on the test. “Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:4). It appears that John, our illustrious speaker, has given us some clear guidance on how to become a fruit bearer.
We really appreciate our guest speakers and what they have contributed to our understanding of fruit-bearing. King Jeroboam let his heart be captivated and chose fear over obedience and had a vineyard that didn’t flourish. Students, guard your thoughts and take them captive. Our guest, Isaiah, warned us of the “wild grapes” of disobedience and a promise of an eventually fruitful vineyard. Will you be a wild grape or a cultivated fruitful vineyard? So Fruit Bearing 101 scholars, what grade would you give yourself: A Jeroboam D- in obedience or a Wild Grape C in fruit cultivation or a John A+ in fruit-bearing? How will you improve your grade?
Bible students are familiar with Jesus’ teaching about the vine and the branches in John 15. It’s an important lesson about the need to stay connected to the vine (Jesus) so the intended harvest of grapes will be abundant. Of course, Jesus didn’t just pick illustrations “out of thin air”; in this instance, he builds on the teaching of the Lord in Isaiah 5. It’s another story of the vine and its fruitfulness.
"When you cut a branch from a tree, it still looks good. If you give it a day or two, that branch is completely dried out and dead because it was disconnected from its source. Friends, we have to stop disconnecting ourselves from God and expecting to be healthy!" (Heart After God, 8/1/21)
These seven beautiful verses in Isaiah 5 help us understand the New Testament teaching where the emphasis is that Jesus-followers are expected to produce fruit—and lots of it! In Isaiah, there is a similar love relationship between God and his chosen people, Israel. “The nation of Israel is the vineyard of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. The people of Judah are his pleasant garden” (v. 7). He said in v. 1, that they are “the one I love.”
And they had a beautiful vineyard with rich and fertile soil. It was protected with surrounding walls and even a watchtower. There was a winepress ready for the treading of the grapes to produce rich wine. And God expected “sweet grapes,” “a crop of justice,” and “righteousness.”
But instead “the grapes that grew were bitter.” Instead of justice, “he found oppression”; instead of righteousness, “he heard cries of violence.” (Kinda makes you think of the 21st century, doesn’t it?) The disappointment, of course, didn’t begin with Israel’s disobedience and unbelief. It started in the Garden of Eden. God’s plan for a perfect, beautiful, fruit-bearing creation and a long-lasting intimate fellowship with his creation was usurped (but only temporarily, gratefully) by the disobedience and unbelief of the first human couple.
See the "disconnect?" Is there a disconnect in your life? How would you describe it?
It’s frightening to read of God’s response to Israel’s failure to produce a good crop. The hedges were to be torn down and the vineyard destroyed; it was to become a wild place. The metaphor of the vineyard and its history is the perfect illustration of what happens when God’s people do not demonstrate faith in his provision and seek self-fulfillment rather than God’s sufficiency.
How do we RE-connect?
The same sort of design, disappointment, and discipline is demonstrated clearly in the teaching of John 15. Pruning, cleansing, separation—all are characteristic of God’s discipline of his children. But the writer of Hebrews encourages us to understand that his discipline is proof that we are his children. Discipline doesn’t mean punishment (though’ it may include some), and it’s for our development (Heb. 12:7-8), our personal profit and benefit (v. 10), to develop “fruits of discipleship (vv. 11-17). “No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening--it is painful! But afterward, there will be a quiet harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way” (v. 11 NLT).
It's time to RE-connect with the vine.
jbd & gmd