THE SHARED LIFE
"I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing." John 15:5
In the last article I discussed the satisfaction of God's heart and the expression of that satisfaction, which is glory. By the Lord Jesus saying "I am the vine," He is saying that He is the life whereby the Father is fully satisfied. Al of the Father's hopes, expectations, intentions, and purposes are fulfilled in Christ. Not only that, but Christ is the expression of that satisfaction of the Father. He is the glory of God! He is the only one who can glorify the Father; the only one who can fully satisfy the heart of God.
You are the Branches. . .
It's the Father's purpose not only to express Himself through an individual, but also, and more fully, through a corporate vehicle. Why? Because that is the nature of God. He is not just an individual. The Godhead is a corporate fellowship of three Persons. So, of course, His expression would also be corporate.
But if Christ is the only One who could express the satisfaction of God, how could this expression ever become corporate? Only Christ can glorify the Father. How can a body of people ever do this? It can only happen through an absolute identity in life. This is what the picture of the branches is all about. The branches are part of the Vine. The branches are one with the vine. The same life flows through the vine and the branches. It's very interesting to note that the Lord did not use the illustration here of a regular "tree" and branches. With a normal tree, it is much easier to distinguish the trunk from the branches. But how do you do that with a vine? The branches are so intertwined with the vine that you cannot tell where the vine stops and the branches begin! They are one in the same.
This beautifully illustrates our life with the Lord. His life is not separate from us. We share the same life. He is our life! It's not that we come to Him and are attached or glued on to Him. It's not even that we come to Him and sit down closely next to Him. No! We are in Him! And He is in us! So now the satisfaction of God's heart can be expressed corporately because of the oneness of life shared with the Son. We know that any glorifying of the Father that happens will come from Him, not from us.
The Object of Fruit
Another reason why the Lord used the illustration of a vine is the single "minded" purpose of a vine. A vine exists for only one reason; to bear fruit. There is no other use for a vine. It's not like a tree that you can use for other things. If the normal tree does not bear fruit, then you can still chop up the trunk and use it for lumber. But a vine is useless without the fruit. Without the fruit the vine is good for nothing except throwing into the bonfire.
The whole reason for the existence of the Church is the glorification of God. He wants to express Himself, His purpose, His satisfaction with His Son, and this can only be done corporately by the branches bearing fruit. "Herein is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit." He wants much fruit. But the "much" referred to here is not just in quantity, it's in great measure or quality as well.
This fruit is the result of life. The life that flows through the vine must come out somewhere! It must be expressed. It must have an outlet of some kind. The fruit is the outlet of divine life flowing through the vine. The fruit is the evidence of life in the vine. The branches do not have to work hard to produce fruit. The fruit is just the natural result of life! The life of Christ flows through His Body. She expresses His character and qualities. The life that comes out and is expressed in this realm is a sweet tasting feast for the table of the Father!