A Fruitful Bough
“Joseph is a fruitful bough (a main branch of the vine),A fruitful bough by a spring (a well, a fountain);Its branches run over the wall [influencing others].
Of the many typical servants of God in the Old Testament, Joseph is perhaps the most perfect. Yet while Scripture reveals no apparent flaw in his character, we know well that his was no easy pathway. When did his troubles begin? Surely with his dreams. They represent spiritual vision. In them he saw what God would do, and his own place in the divine plan. It was his dreams that started things off, for he saw what his brothers could not see. “This dreamer,” they called him and plotted his downfall. So he was sold for a servant and lay in chains of iron.(Psalm 107:17) Yet Joseph could survive it all to become at length God’s means of fulfilling a mighty purpose for his people. He stands firm to the end who can see.
Jesus talked to us about bearing fruit. In the fifteenth chapter of John’s Gospel He tells us something important.
You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and I have appointed placed purposefully planted you, so that you would go and bear fruit keep on bearing, and that your fruit will remain be lasting, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name [as My representative] He may give to you.
Christ removed any idea that we were the ones who made the choice. Instead He makes it clear that He chose us and He chose us for His purpose. Christ didn’t choose us to merely call us His own and then leave us to plan and choose our own way. In this verse He continues by saying, “I have appointed you.” Webster defines “appointed” as chosen for a particular job beforehand. What Christ is saying is that even before we responded to His offer of salvation, He had already chosen and assigned us a specific task. We don’t have to wonder what that assignment is for Christ defines it as “bearing fruit.” Christ says that He placed, and purposefully planted us. That phrase indicates that wherever we are, we didn’t get there by accident nor by our own efforts. The Bible teaches that God directs the steps of His children and that means that if you are a Christian that He is directing you.
In another place Jesus says “except a corn of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it abides alone, but if it is planted it produces a multitude of wheat.” (John 12:24)
To become fruit bearing, we must first be planted and that means giving up our wishes, desires and ways and fully surrendering all to the mastery of Christ.
Paul describes this a daily dying:
“I assure you, believers, by the pride which I have in you in [your union with] Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily [I face death and die to self].”
1 Corinthians 15:31
In the story of Joseph, we see this work of God. Through the betrayal, slavery, and prison, Joseph’s character was molded so that he could become a “fruitful bough.” And that wasn’t bearing fruit for his own consumption but to be in place so that his family might be blessed. That’s what Christ is saying to us. Our fruitfulness isn’t to benefit us but to bless others. Having said that, let me also say you can’t be a blessing without being blessed for we can only give what we have and that we have has been given to us by God.
Jesus carries the conversation farther as He tells us that we aren’t fruit bearing by ourselves for we are grafted into God.
“I am the true Vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every that continues to bear fruit, He [repeatedly] prunes, so that it will bear more fruit [even richer and finer fruit]. Remain in Me, and I [will remain] in you. Just as no branch can bear fruit by itself without remaining in the vine, neither can you [bear fruit, producing evidence of your faith] unless you remain in Me. I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in Me, he is thrown out like a [broken off] branch, and withers dies; and they gather such branches and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. My Father is glorified honored by this, when you bear much fruit, and prove yourselves to be My [true] disciples.”
John15:1-2, 4-6, 8
Jesus says that He is the Vine and we are branches. In other words our ability to bear fruit hinges solely on our being connected to God through Christ. But He also tells us that we are expected to bear fruit and if not we are removed from the branch. We ought not take the story of the barren fig tree lightly. You know the one that looked to be healthy with loads of green leaves but no fruit. And so because of that it withered away. Oh Jesus isn’t going to zap us but I promise you that those who never fulfill their God-given purpose only become hollow, empty shells of humanity.
Then Jesus says that the fruit-bearing branch isn’t left to itself but is continually “pruned” by the Father. John the Baptist expresses it this way:
“He must increase [in prominence], but I must decrease.”
The pruning has the purpose of making it less about us and more about Jesus. Christ can only produce abundant fruit through us when we open ourselves to Him fully. We must learn and the pruning is designed to assist us in becoming less of us and more of Him. Christ says that the only way we can produce fruit is by remaining in Him for without Him we can bear no fruit but through Him we can bear much fruit.
Our world is filled hurting, hungry people who need some sweet flavored fruit to brighten up their day. In the natural, for me, I love good fruit. Somehow it always hits the spot and leaves me feeling pretty contented. I love being around people whose lives bear the fruit of the Spirit. The joy, love, and peace they exude fills the room and my heart with its fragrance. No matter how my day may be going, these have the gift of making it brighter.
That’s what Christ wants to produce in us and through us. He wants to make the fruit of God available to humanity and we are the branches through which He makes it available.
Dr. John Thompson