Have you ever been on a walk in the woods and found a fruit-bearing apple tree in the midst of the wild, overgrown forest? It’s such an unexpected blessing, a thing of beauty in the midst of an untamed wilderness and the only thing bearing life-giving fruit. So also, we, as fruitful branches abiding in the Vine, are like rare apple trees living amidst a forest of evergreens, hardwoods, or conifers. And just like the wild forest slowly tries to overgrow the lone fruit-bearing tree, so also the depraved and perverted world we live in slowly tries to squeeze us until we break. However, in John 15, Jesus told His disciples—which includes us!—to expect this.
What is one of the first things you think of when you hear the word joy? Do you picture the sheer excitement of a child on Christmas morning or the radiant smile of a bride on her wedding day? Well, this week we’re going to take a closer look at the meaning of joy, where to find it, and the many positive benefits of possessing it.
After laying out the sobering reality of what happens to the branches that bear fruit and those which do not, Jesus gives the reason why He was telling the Twelve these things:
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
The image of the grape vine is a vivid example of how our relationship with Christ ought to be. It consists of a main vine that extends out to many, many branches pruned by an expert gardener to spread far and wide and bear much fruit. Have you ever seen a vineyard of well-maintained grape vines? It is pristine and beautiful to behold, with endless, perfectly straight rows of greenery stretching to the horizon. If you’ve ever visited or passed through Napa County California you’ve seen what I’m trying to describe.