When Jesus spoke about bearing fruit, does it mean telling others about Him?
Thank you for your question. The answer is important to understand. Jesus encourages bearing fruit in John 15 in the discourse on the vine and the branches. Inherent in the very analogy is the fact that the fruit is produced by the life of the vine—divine life. Therefore, the fruit is the manifestation of divine life, and the text describes two aspects.
First, there is the fruitful character of Christ within us (His love and joy noted in John 15:9-11; cf. Gal. 5:22-23). The fruit of the Spirit revealing the character of the divine life of Jesus is even stated in the very context. The word love is used nine times in nine verses beginning at John 15:9. The word joy is used twice in verse 11. Obviously, this parallels the first two graces listed in the fruit of the Spirit delineated in Galatians 5:22-23.
Second, there is the fruitful ministry of Christ through us (John 15:12-17, esp. 16). Jesus said He came not to be ministered unto, but to minister (Matt. 20:28). When we abide in Christ, He abides in us. As He abides in us, we are experiencing Jesus. Yet while we experience Jesus, He is ministering to those around us. They get to eat the fruit!
Ministry to others can involve many expressions. This ministry would include the lost, ultimately for the salvation of their souls. Jesus said we are chosen and appointed to “go and bring forth fruit” (15:16). The “going” seems to move beyond the fruit of the Spirit emphasized earlier to having an impact on others through that fruit. Certainly, this includes reproduction, especially since Jesus said that fruit should remain [lit. abide] and reproducing begins the whole process over again.
The first aspect of fruit, Christ’s life within us, pertains to genuine holiness. But accessing the fruit of the Spirit of Jesus opens the way for the second aspect of fruit, Christ’s life through us ministering to others.
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Thank you! So many associations popped up in my mind with your comment comparing vine life to divine life. I have struggled with the word abide, always felt something I have to do. As you said I experience Christ and He ministers through me. I thought of the partaking of the divine nature in 2 Peter 1:4. Also thought of the sheep whom Jesus told to enter His joy, they did not know when they had ministered to Jesus. The sheep were just abiding, partaking and Jesus was working.
Yes, abiding is the picturesque term for faith/God-dependence.