My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father. — John 15:8

Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, London, is a place where anybody can get up on a soapbox and say whatever outrageous things come into his or her mind. Some of the speakers speak mainly to themselves, but the more dramatic orators draw a crowd. There’s something about human nature that is incorrigibly curious, and curiosity draws a crowd.

This was certainly the case in the Lord’s ministry. Jesus had no difficulty attracting an audience, but that did not mean that people readily became His disciples. There were several occasions when the crowds that enjoyed His miracles turned away when Jesus began to make practical applications (see John 6:66).

Jesus knew the hearts of those who crowded around Him, and He could easily differentiate between those who were superficially attracted by the drama and those who were true disciples. He said, “My true disciples produce much fruit” (15:8). Physically, fruit is the outward expression of the life hidden inside a tree. Spiritually, the fruit of which Jesus spoke is the practical working out of the life that He puts in the hearts of true disciples.

Discipleship is a matter of believing, but not solely of believing. It is about behaving, too, in a way that Jesus said “brings great glory to my Father” (15:8). True disciples seek to live in such a way that will point people toward God and will demonstrate the power of God at work in human beings.

True disciples glorify God by refusing to live for themselves. There are many ways in which this is borne out practically. Jesus identified one of the most obvious when He said, “I command you to love each other in the same way that I love you. And here is how to measure it—the greatest love is shown when people lay down their lives for their friends” (15:12-13).

A loving, sacrificial lifestyle is powerful evidence of true discipleship! To some, this sounds cheerless and unappealing. But Jesus said it leads to a life in which “Your joy will overflow!” (15:11).

What is the secret? Jesus explained, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit” (15:5). True discipleship is all about having an intimate relationship with the living Lord, a relationship as close and necessary as the relationship between a branch and the vine.

Severed branches are fruitless and dead. True disciples are not fruitless, because they’re not stupid—they stay attached to the vine! They know that, as Jesus said, “you cannot be fruitful apart from me” (15:4). So they stay close at all times, trusting and obeying God.

Dependence and obedience are the key words of Christian discipleship. Independence and disobedience are the things that ruin the fellowship and destroy the fruitfulness and tarnish the joy. So, check your faith and examine your obedience.

For further study: John 15:1-17

Content taken from The One Year Book of Devotions for Men by Stuart Briscoe. Copyright ©2000. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.