The friend I mentioned in the last post, who wanted to know what to expect from the Holy Spirit, is an engineer. He’s a practical guy, more comfortable with hand tools than he is with theology. “What’s going to happen to me with the Spirit,” he wants to know, “am I going to foam at the mouth; are my eyes going to roll around in my head? What?” He’s kind of like the guys Jesus hung out with. Some of them were fishermen. Probably had rock hard muscles, scarred and calloused hands. Jesus had just told them, “Guess what? I’m going to install my Spirit in you.” (John 14:15-21) Can you imagine saying something like that to your fishing buddies? If they didn’t just toss you into the lake, they would want you to speak plainly and tell them something they could understand.
That is the problem with the Holy Spirit. Even though we have all been designed to have Him living inside us, none of us start out that way. Trying to imagine what we can expect is kind of like a man born blind trying to imagine a sunset. So, when Jesus tried to explain what they could expect, he said it like this:
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 )
Something is lost in translation. The word “remains” means to live in, permanently. “If a man lives in Me and I in him… he will bear much fruit.”
Jesus’ fishing buddies would all have been able to “see it” when He talked about the vine (in this picture, the part growing straight up) and the branch (in this picture, the part that is attached to the vine and grows out to the right). Because that branch has the “life” of the vine flowing through it, it has lush, green leaves. When the season is right, it produces a couple of clusters of grapes. You can imagine how different the branch would look if you cut the connection to the vine, right? When we want to know what to expect from the Holy Spirit, Jesus says, “Picture what happens to a branch when it is attached to a vine.” When we are attached to Jesus, when we surrender in faith to Him and allow Him to do so, His life will flow through us and transform our lives, producing “fruit.”
But what do we have to do? How does the grape branch manage to produce the grapes? How hard does it have to work? How much does it have to know so it will do the right thing? Nothing! The fruit emerges naturally because it has the life of the vine flowing through it. Jesus said, “When you make your life in Me (His metaphor for believing fully in Him), My life will flow through you (His metaphor for the Holy Spirit.) And, He said, “you WILL bear much fruit.” How will you do so? By doing what a branch does.
But what does this “fruit” look like? Is this the part where I become the church lady? For a branch of grapes, the fruit looks like grapes. For a branch of pumpkins it looks very different. That’s because the design of the branches is different. Your fruit probably will not look like mine. But fruit from the Holy Spirit, like fruit from a branch, tastes good, feels good and refreshes those it is given to. When the life of Jesus flows through a person who has come to live in Him, Jesus causes that person to produce good things that restore and refresh others.
That’s what you can expect. Next time we’ll go deeper on what the fruit looks like.