In this chapter the Lord compared Jerusalem to a vine. Verses 2-3 read,
“Son of man, how does the wood of the vine surpass any wood, the vine branch that is among the trees of the forest? 3 Is wood taken from it to make anything? Do people take a peg from it to hang any vessel on it?”
Vines grow in various places but one thing all vines have in common is their tendency to grow toward the sun. In the forest where sunlight is harder to come by vines can be quite aggressive and these kind of vines when planted in a garden or other landscape will be invasive and take over, choking out the other plants. Most vines can’t even support themselves, they must attach to a tree, a wall or some other structure.
What good is a vine on its own? It has no useful purpose except as fuel for a fire. What if it is rescued from the fire? The partially burned vine is even less useful and still can only kindling. The Lord compared to Jerusalem to vines. He said she was good for nothing and even the fire didn’t improve her. Those whom He had rescued would still only be thrown back into the fire as tinder. Verses 6-7 put it this way,
“Therefore thus says the Lord God: Like the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest, which I have given to the fire for fuel, so have I given up the inhabitants of Jerusalem. 7 And I will set my face against them. Though they escape from the fire, the fire shall yet consume them, and you will know that I am the Lord, when I set my face against them.”
But vines are good for something when they are properly cared for. When the vinedresser plants them, when they are attached to a strong and good vine they produce fruit. Without the vinedresser and without the true vine there is no fruit. Fruitless branches are pruned and thrown into the fire before they can invade the other branches and make the entire thing unserviceable and nonproductive. In John chapter 15 verses 1-6 Jesus describes it like this,
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”
The Israelites just wouldn’t abide in the Lord. Jerusalem saw herself as something special, above reproach and protected by God. But she refused to let the Lord be her God. She didn’t rest in Him nor depend on Him. She looked elsewhere for help and rather than be a rich vineyard full of grapes for wine and food, she was a fruitless bramble good only to fuel a fire.
We are no more special than they were. We can’t bear fruit on our own. We need to be grafted into Jesus, the True Vine. We need His righteousness to produce His fruit in us. It is the fruit of the Spirit, the harvest of goodness that shows who we are and glorifies the Lord God, our Father.
Abiding in the Jesus, doesn’t mean sweating and struggling to create fruit in ourselves. It means resting in Him and letting His righteousness, His virtue and goodness do its work in us and allowing Him to form and grow the fruit in us. John 15:7-9 read,
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.”
Just stay in Jesus’ love. Just remain in Him. Stay faithful to Him and let Him be God. We do that by obeying Him. What are His commandments? Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew22:36-39). Jesus simplified it for us, He said, “Love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12).
All vines grow toward the sun. Are you getting your sustenance to grow from the sun of this world or from the Son of God? Is your support structure a tree or the True Vine? Are you a fruitful vine? When people look at you do they see evidence of God? Is He glorified in your life or are you glorified in your life? Do you desire the ability to love as Jesus loves and receive it when you ask? Do you love others by God’s great power?
What is the fruit you should be bearing? The characteristics of Jesus, whose image you are being conformed to by the Holy Spirit. Galatians 5:22-24 read,
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. 24 And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”
If you aren’t bearing fruit, if God isn’t glorified in your life, then ask yourself if you are truly grafted into Jesus, if you truly depend on Him and only Him. If not then repent and ask Him to graft you in and give you life. If you are grafted in and yet you see no good fruit, maybe you are not truly abiding in Jesus. Maybe you are not loving one another as Jesus loves you. Do you have some “one-anothers” to love and be loved by? You are not the only branch on the vine. Look around and love your one-anothers.
You can’t produce your own fruit. Only the True Vine can give you what you need. Only He can produce the fruit in you. Only the Vinedresser can properly prune, trim, and shape you properly to ensure your fruit is bountiful and prime.