You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last...
Sometimes I get uncomfortable with parts of the ‘abiding’ chapter, John 15. It is all well and good to think of abiding/resting in Jesus, but he also talks about us being ‘appointed’ to bear fruit and showing we are disciples by bearing much fruit. I can hear this as ‘required’ or ‘demanded’ to bear fruit—and lots of it! Just a bit of pressure there!
In the Vineyard
Reading this passage recently, I was struck by the word ’appointed’. It seemed a bit more empowering than my usual reading of ’required’. I did a bit of study and the Greek word means ’to place’ and could be translated as ’to plant’ or ‘to set in place’. Obviously ’appointed’ is a good translation.
The professor I had for my brief study of Greek wisely told us not to change our theology based on insights gained from just two semesters! However, given the extended grape vine analogy Jesus is using in the teaching here, I wondered whether you could gain some insight by thinking of ‘set in place’ in terms of ‘grafted in’. One method of grafting grape vines is to take a bud from a plant and ‘set it’ into a slit in a healthy vine. It then draws life from the vine and grows and does what it is designed to do—bear fruit.
‘Set’ up for success
Such a ’set in’ bud is being ’set up’ for success! It is placed where it can have access to all it needs to fulfill its destiny of grape-making. I find it encouraging to think in these terms. Jesus isn’t establishing a hurdle for us to jump over, but choosing us and then implanting us in himself, the Vine, so that we can have access to all the resources to fulfill our calling/destiny of fruit bearing.
You will notice from the graphic above that after the bud is set in place, it is bound around to keep it there. What a great reminder that the Vinedresser, the Father, binds us to Jesus in love through the work of the Holy Spirit.
We were made for this. We have been chosen for this. We have been set in place for this — that we would bear fruit and so show that we are being conformed to the image of Jesus, the true and fruitful Vine.