When looking for a genuine product, we will certainly examine beyond the label. We know that the market place is flooded with copies that try to pass off as authentic. To identify the real from the fake, we often turn to the manufacturer’s specifications for specific distinguishing marks.
When we consider what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, it is important that we hear from Him the distinguishing mark that is absolutely essential. There were many who followed Jesus around when He was on earth. They were impressed with what they saw and heard. They must have thought it would be beneficial to be counted as His “followers”. But the many who jostled to be close to Jesus soon dropped out – when they realized He would not fulfill their aspirations.
Listen to Jesus’ declaration in this passage:
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” – John 15:5 (NLT)
Jesus used the metaphor of a grapevine. We can picture many twinning branches attached to the main vine, with luscious clusters of grapes hanging from the branches, ready for harvest.
The key word here is “remain” (NLT) or “abide” (ESV). A branch that is attached to the main vine will receive life-giving water and nutrients flowing through its veins. Conversely, a hewn-off branch will not be connected to the source of life. Jesus was pointing to the obvious: anyone who is His disciple must remain vitally connected to Him. This is the truth enunciated – An authentic disciple of Jesus Christ is one who is vitally connected to Him. This is the indelible mark.
Two significant consequences follow:
There will be evidence of growth and fruitfulness
In this verse, Jesus promised that those who are connected to Him “will produce much fruit”. As His life-giving water flows through, there will be the joy of growth and fruitfulness.
These days, some artificial plants look very real. But they don’t grow. Neither will they bear fruits, for there is no life in artificial plants. Indeed, a person who is vitally connected to Jesus will grow spiritually and bear much fruit that is pleasing to the Lord.
There will be evidence of trust and obedience
The life of a disciple is one that requires on-going trust in the Person of Jesus Christ, whom we call Saviour and Lord. Our trust will be reflected in our obedience to Him. The Lord has given us His revealed Word and the promised Holy Spirit to guide us. All true disciples of Jesus Christ will be students of Scripture and will want to walk in ways that will please Him. Indeed, Jesus pointed out, “For apart from me you can do nothing”.
This is the message that Paul preached powerfully: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved….” and “Anyone who trusts in Him will never be disgraced’” – Romans 10:9-11 (NLT)
The apostle Paul has shared his personal experience. He wrote, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” The secret to our ability to doing that which will be pleasing to Christ is to remain fully reliant on Him.
An authentic disciple of Jesus will acknowledge Him as Saviour and Lord, recognising that He has borne our sins and received the punishment due us, and that He has given us new life. All who identify themselves as His disciples must remain vitally attached to Him.
By David LT Yap, Advisory Pastor (YCKC Bulletin 20 November 2016)