Without Jesus - Nothing!
The point of this passage is not just fruit, but more fruit. (v.2)
This is made clear in verses three and eight where we read: " much fruit."
This is no ordinary vine.
It is one with unlimited life and vitality.
So, throughout, the assumption is that its branches will bear with the greatest possible abundance.
This is the glory of the vine.
Therefore no true branch will want to make it less.
Those who are bearing little fruit have reason to examine their connection with the Vine.
The reason why he that remains in Jesus bears much fruit is put into negative form:
"...for apart from me you can do nothing." not: " joined to me you can do at least something."
We have only two alternatives: much or nothing at all.
Joined to Jesus and under the Father's care, so much grace comes to us that the result is always " much fruit."
The alternative is separation from Jesus and the Father's care which means no fruit of any kind.
" Apart from me" means just what it says: severed from Jesus.
All who are "apart from Jesus," (those who have no connection with Him)
can do nothing in the way of acceptable service to God.
They may think that they are doing much.
They may be doing works which the world lauds and applauds,
but in the eyes and words of Jesus, they are doing absolutely nothing. Read Matt. 7: 22,23.
The alternative, "much," is seen in the branch
that Christ has grafted into the Vine so that it is not barren, but fruitful.
It is seen in the great distinction between the person who has private ambitions and the person who abides in Christ.
The one with personal ambitions, that is, the one not abiding in Christ;
and is not connected, seeks to erect a monument of some kind for himself.
It may be an oak carving or a structure of brick and mortar that will last for years and keep the memory of that person alive.
Remember: fruit is eaten and disappears, but it passes into human life and becomes part of the stream that flows on forever.
Therefore, so is the one who is abiding.
The person not abiding longs to execute a monumental work, and does not much care for man or God.
A great war or a great disaster will serve his purpose.
Really anything that draws attention to himself will do.
But he, who is content to be only a branch of the true Vine, will not seek the admiration of people.
He will be content to abide and let Christ produce His fruit through him.
He is willing to remain obscure.
He is willing to have his labor absorbed without notice or recognition.
The fact is: he has died to self and Christ lives in him.
The best uses and ends of human life and its endeavors cannot be attained apart from Christ.
Only in Him is attainment of life possible.
Only in Him!
He is as necessary for the spiritual life of men as the sun is for our physical life.
We use candlelight to its fullest.
We may be quite proud of our electric light and think that we are so self-sufficient that we could do without the sun.
That would be totally foolish to think that we could dispense of the sun.
So, here is the great truth.
Christ is the one spiritual stem apart from whom we are not bearing and cannot bear the fruit that God desires.
We cannot dispense of the Son.
So, with these words: " without Me," the Lord Jesus shattered the whole of our human conception of service.
Consider the word, " nothing."
When we say this, so often we mean " not very much."
Someone says: " Do you have any money with you that you could loan me?"
We answer, "No, I have nothing."
We may actually have a few dollars, but "nothing" means " not very much."
However, the word "nothing" that Jesus used is a special word meaning: " Nothing, not even one."
What He actually said was, " For without Me you can do nothing, not even one."
What a challenge this is to our hopes and desires for much fruitful service.
It is possible to be in this blessed position only when I have learned the secret of abiding in Christ
and Christ abiding in me; Christ working through me; Christ using me as His instrument for His purposes.
This is the only way to the fruitfulness of much fruit.
The only alternative is "nothing," that is to say: "not even one."
It is essential to remember that the "me" in whom Christ dwells,
and through whom He operates is the trinity of my personality: my mind, my spirit, and my will.
The life of the Vine must flow through the branch - through every section of the branch.
I am so glad that without Christ we can do nothing,
because I fear that if the church could do something without Christ - she would.
She would try to live without Him.
If we could teach without Him and lead others to salvation without Him, we would.
If there could be work done by the church without Jesus, there would be rooms into which He would never be invited.
These rooms would soon become a chamber of horrors.
Something that we could do without Christ would be horrible!
We would work with all our methods and the mass machinery that we could produce.
Then, all that is truly real and all that really pleases God would be neglected.
So, it is a blessed thing for the church that we must have Christ everywhere.
" Without Me you can do nothing!"
If this be true of apostles, then how much so of opposers.
So, if His friends can do nothing without Him, it is even more true that His foes can do absolutely nothing against Him.
The world is full of people doing "nothing" in this sense.
Therefore, let others whittle and trim as they can until they make a new birth out of works and a tree out of fruit.
They must still prove the truth to this saying of Jesus in our text.
And out of it all there shall come nothing.
This person can do no work that is acceptable to God.
So, apart from Him, we cannot bear the fruit that God desires.
If we are not bringing forth fruit..If we are conscious that the results of our life and activity are not the results
as He has purposed and cannot be traced to Him, this is because there is something about our abiding in Him
that is loose and needs examining.
Christ calls us to Him to be His branches and bear His fruit,
which will be the same kind of fruit that Christ Himself would bring forth.
For it is Christ who brings forth these fruits.
So, we can say with Paul: "...Not I, but Christ in me."
If the will of Christ is not being fulfilled through us, then we had better look into it.
It is not some unaccountable blight that makes us useless.
It is not that Christ has placed us where bearing His precious fruit is impossible.
He chose us and chose the place for us.
He knows the quality of fruit that we should be bearing.
The reason for our fruitlessness is a simple one.
We are not abiding as we should.
HOW IS IT THEN?
How is it with ourselves?
There is an examination and it is made by One who has come for the express purpose of gathering fruit.
He knows the kind of fruit we are bearing.
We must abide!
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org