Sometimes stories that we read in the Bible don’t hit home or speak to us because they are so familiar. Even words that Jesus spoke as recorded in the Gospels can run off us like water off a duck’s back. Just too familiar and read so often they lose their punch and impact. I found this to be true recently as I was reading and studying my way through the Gospel according to Matthew.
Matthew 21:43 NET states: “For this reason I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.”
Did you notice that last part “… given to a people who will produce its fruit.” Interesting to say the least.
The people are the Church, the called out ones who are to be a “holy nation” (1 Peter 2:9). The original plan was that this would be Israel. However, in the Parable of the Landowner (Matthew 21:33-46) we see that the Kingdom and all the spiritual advantages given to Israel would now be given to “other vine-growers,” symbolizing the Church which consisted mainly of Gentiles.
To be holy today usually means following a list of things we can wear, places we can and can’t go, people we can hang with and those we can’t. However, biblically “to be holy” means to be more and more like Jesus in thought, word, and deed. To live life as Jesus would and to do those things that He did.
Join 14:12 NET “I tell you the solemn truth, the person who believes in me will perform the miraculous deeds that I am doing, and will perform greater deeds than these, because I am going to the Father.”
The fruit includes the very character and nature of God Himself. In the Bible this is referred to as The Fruit of the Spirit
Galatians 5:22-23a “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”
Jesus Himself spoke of fruit as recorded in John, chapter 15… the story of the Vine and the branches (take a minute and read the verses slowly:
John 15:1-16 NET “I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener. He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit. You are clean already because of the word that I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you 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, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you. My Father is honoured by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples.
“Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love. If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Fatherʼs commandments and remain in his love. I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete. My commandment is this – to love one another just as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this – that one lays down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.
I believe “the fruit that remains” is lives rescued from hell – people who come to know the Saviour Jesus Christ. This happens as we obey the Great Commission, the marching orders and mandate of the early Church and still our command today.
Matthew 28:18-20 “Then Jesus came up and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
To bear fruit is not an option. But, it should be an automatic result of our intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus (branches attached to the Vine) and as we fellowship with His Spirit every day (2 Corinthians 13:13).