Jesus defines being a disciple as one who bears His fruit. In John 15:1-8, Jesus describes the believer’s relationship with Him as analogous to the relationship of a branch to the vine. Jesus explains that He is the True Vine, and we, believers in Him, are branches. Our responsibility is to abide or remain in Him, and His responsibility is to produce fruit through our lives. In John 15:8, Jesus says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” When we bear fruit, we show ourselves or demonstrate that we are disciples of Jesus.
The key to understanding this passage is interpreting what Jesus means by “fruit.” Seen in its agricultural context, fruit is the outward evidence of the inward nature. The evidence that a tree is an apple tree is the fruit of apples it produces. The evidence that a tree is a pear tree is the pears it produces. This line of reasoning holds for all fruit-bearing plants. In Jesus’s illustration, Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. Fruit is the outward evidence of the life of Jesus in us. He is the producer of His fruit, and He produces that fruit in our lives. When a believer demonstrates the fruit of Jesus in their lives, it is a mark of being a growing disciple of Jesus.
The Apostle Paul in Colossians chapter 2 expands on this same truth. In verses 6-10, he encourages believers who have received Christ to continue to walk in Christ. He describes this walk as being rooted, built up, and strengthened, and overflowing. The outward overflow of our lives demonstrates we have received Christ. The Apostle Peter agrees with this truth when he commands us to “add” to our faith the virtues of Christ in 2 Peter 1:3-8. In this passage, he states that we have everything for life and godliness in Christ. For this reason, Peter says that we are to add to our faith the various virtues of goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love. He concludes by saying that if we possess these qualities in increasing measure, we will be fruitful in our knowledge of Christ, sure of our election to Christ’s eternal kingdom. The adding and increasing of Christ’s virtues demonstrate the fruit of Jesus, which confirms that we are His disciples. One of the marks of a growing disciple is the bearing of Jesus’s fruit in their lives. The bearing of fruit glorifies God and give us the confidence of our eternal life with Christ.