I an the vine, you are the branches. He
who abides in me, and I in him, he it is
that bears much fruit, for apart from me
you can do nothing.   If a man does not abide
in me, he is cast forth
as a branch and
withers; and the branches are gathered,
thrown into the fire and burned. If you
abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask
whatever you will, and it shall be done for
you. By this my Father is glorified, that
you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my
disciples.                   John 15:5-8


Second only to the desire to know God more perfectly is
the desire in every one of our hearts to bear much fruit.
We want our time in this world to count for something.
We see how staggering is the harvest and how few the
laborers, and we want to be of use.


There is probably no area of our lives which frustrates
us more than this tension between the longing in our
hearts to bear much fruit and the obvious evidence that
not much seems to be happening out there on the end of
our branch.


- We pick up books that tell of the exploits
  of men and women who are really bearing
  fruit ... of saints of God who did mighty
  things in days gone by.


- We hear of fellowships that are expanding
  so rapidly they can't enlarge their buildings

  fast enough,


- We read of communities of believers involved

  in impressive ministries in Washington, Boston,

  New York, Nairobi, and Rio.


   Then we look down at our own feeble efforts,

           the meager results,

           how little we have to show for

years of labor!


Jesus promised that if we abide in Him and His words
abide in us we will bear much fruit. But, He never
promised that this much fruit, which we absolutely will
bear, would bring us any glory. He said the fruit will
glorify the Father. There will be much fruit and it
will prove our discipleship to Jesus. But the glory -
all of it - will go to the Father.


- The grain of wheat falls into the ground

  and dies and bears much fruit.


- The Lamb of God goes to the cross and dies
  and bears much fruit.


- The followers of the Lamb bear much fruit
  ...exactly as He did.


Our frustration is not because there is no fruit, our
frustration is that we have allowed our hearts to be
deceived into confusing fruit with glory. We don't
seem to think there's any fruit coming unless we hear
the bands playing and the crowds roar as we make our
spiritual touchdowns. But the fruit that abides never
comes that way.  


 - Fruit that abides is mysteriously stripped

   of all human glory.


If the same standards had been applied to Jesus as are
used to evaluate people's worth in most present day
Christian literature, Jesus would have been a dismal


What do you think Jesus looked like when they dragged
Him before the chief priests and the elders of Israel?

Thirty-three years of obedience to God

and what is there to show for it?


- Absolutely nothing!

   They march Him in front of Pilate.

 "Are you the King of the Jews?
Who are you?

Why are these people so hell-bent on killing you?
....What's the matter? Can't you talk?

Don't you realize I have the power to have you
crucified or to release you?"


   They drag Him on to Herod the real Jewish king.

"At long last we meet! I've heard about you.
 Well, let's see what you can do. Ha, just

      as I thought, you're a loser. You can't even talk!"


There isn't a TV preacher in the country who would have
had Jesus on his show that night. What kind of testimony
could He have given? Where was His fruit?

His fruit, which will one day cover the earth with the
knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover
the sea, was hidden in that bruised bleeding body which
was soon to die and would only begin to come forth when
He did die.


Note well, Jesus never worried about how much fruit He
was bearing because He was absolutely confident that
fruit would come, and that nothing could prevent it.
Jesus concerned Himself with two things as far as His
ministry to men was concerned:


1. Touching human lives with the mercy of God.


2. Getting to His cross...   that's all.

Jesus didn't waste time building an organization,
                                   writing books,

                                   revolutionizing the Roman govern-
ment, or reforming Israel's stagnant institutions.


Jesus never sought publicity as a means of bearing fruit.

He avoided it like the plague.


Jesus never begged for money as a means of "expanding
His outreach." He stuck to two things:


1. Touching lives with the mercy of God.

2. Getting to His Cross.


At that very hour some Pharisees came, and said
to him, "Get away from here, for Herod wants to
kill you." And he said to them, "go and tell
that fox, 'Behold, I cast out demons and perform
cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I
finish my course. Nevertheless I must go on my
way today and tomorrow and the day following;
for it cannot be that a prophet should perish
away from Jerusalem."'    Luke 13:31-33


There it is clearly stated.   "Go tell that fox what I'm
doing. He'll never stop me. Today and tomorrow I cast
out demons and perform cures. The third day I go to
Jerusalem to lay down my life."


You want to bear fruit?... This is all you have to do:

- Abide in Jesus and let Him abide in you

                  ... as you touch lives with the mercy of God.


   - Abide in Jesus and let Him abide in you

                 ... as you go to your cross.


If any man would come after me,
let him deny himself, take up
his cross, daily, and follow me.


Many of us seem to think that to deny ourselves is some
morbid negative thing, like giving up cherry pie. To deny
ourselves is positive.   It's doing what Jesus did --- denying
ourselves in favor of the oppressed,

          the hungry,
          the poor.

Yes, and our own neglected families ... to deny ourselves
in order that we may touch their lives with the mercy of


     And to take up our cross and follow Jesus means that we

start heading with Jesus to a Calvary of our own.


- Touch other lives with the mercy of God.

- Head for a Calvary of our own.


If we will settle for these two things and forget all the
fancy stuff, we will bear much fruit.


1. Touching lives with the mercy of God.

Is not this the fast that I choose;
to loose the bonds of wickedness,
to undo the thongs of the yoke,

to let the oppressed go free,
and to break every yoke?


Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
     and bring the homeless poor into your house;
when you see the naked, to cover him,,

and not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
Then shall your light break forth like the dawn,
and your healing shall spring up speedily;
your righteousness shall go before you,

the glory of the Lord shall be your rear guard.

Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
you shall cry, and he will say, Here I am.


If you take away from the midst of you the yoke,

the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness,

If you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy
the desire of the afflicted,

then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.


And the Lord will guide you continually,
and satisfy your desire with good things,
and make your bones strong;


and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,

whose waters fail not.


And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;

you shall raise up the foundations of many

you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.

Isaiah 58:6-12


Stop worrying about how much you're getting done.
Stop trying to count how many souls you think you've
saved. Forget about what your ministry looks like

- to Herod,

- or Pilate,

- or John the Baptist,

- or your best friend,

- or your worst enemy,


and concentrate on what the Spirit singles out here in
Isaiah. The oppressed,

    the hungry,
                the poor,.
                your own neglected flesh--meaning your own



How different from the currently popular theories about
fruit bearing ... where they would have us learning how to
reach executives for Christ, how to find and win the
leaders (then every one else will follow). Nowhere in
scriptures are we told to go after the big fish and

let the little fish follow. Always we are told to concentrate

on the little fish -- the very ones whom this world counts

as nothing.


"Go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

Good brothers and sisters will accuse you of wasting
time when you take this route, just as John the Baptist
questioned Jesus,


"Is that all you're ever going to do? Mess

 around with the nobodies? Are you the one

 who is to come or do we look for another?"


But if we are going to abide in Jesus --- really abide ---
and have Him abiding in us, we have no choice but to

be about His business among the poor and the maimed and
the halt and the blind.


Perhaps a reader is worried about the executives. The
executives, my friend, have good noses. They can always
smell when there is something good around.   And they have
mobility - they know how to get to the good stuff.


Jesus didn't chase Nicodemus all over Jerusalem trying
to reach an executive for Christ. Nicodemus came to
Jesus while Jesus sought the lost sheep ... and those execu-
tives who are for real will gladly forsake all to follow
Jesus just like every other disciple.


2.   If we are going to bear much fruit we are going to
daily move toward our own Calvary.


And when we get there, like Jesus we are going to disappear

from the eyes of the world totally. We are not heading toward

fame, we are heading toward oblivion in God.


And he said to all, "If any man would come

after me, let him deny himself and take up

his cross, daily, and follow me.


We may not fully understand what our Calvary is. We may
have to wait until we get closer to it to see clearly
how it will be. But this much we now know:


- Our goal is not "success"

- Our goal is a cross!


And every day we take up our cross by laying down our
life in one hundred little ways -- thus moving one day
closer to the moment when we shall finally lay down our


What freedom this gives us!


- We don't have to be anything,

- We don't have to prove anything,
- We don't have to out-do anybody,


all we have to do is keep following Jesus toward Jeru-
salem. We don't even have to be afraid anymore, for
when our goal is a cross, who can intimidate us?


If Herod threatens to kill us we too can say,


"Go tell that fox, 'Behold we cast out demons

and perform cures today and tomorrow and the

third day we finish our course.'"


And when we finish our course you can be absolutely sure
there will be much fruit, fruit that will glorify the
Father and rejoice the heart of the Son.


Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain
of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it
remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much


Much fruit is an absolute promise to each of us if we will;


- forsake "Vanity Road",

- leave all the glory to God,

- concentrate on following Jesus to this world's



....and if we will follow Jesus on to the
Jerusalem, and the Calvary which the Father
has prepared especially for us.