Branches, Leaves and Fruit (John 15:5)

I am studying the occurances of the word (0r form of the word) “leaf” in the Bible.  God is stirring up something of a message in it.

As I read several passages about leaves tonight, God kept bringing up the words of Christ saying “I am the vine. You are the branches.” found in John 15:5 (for further reading check out a writing I did November 2006 called “Remaining In (John 15:1-17)“)  That verse is:

John 15:5 (ESV) 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Because it’s become obvious in my studies that I cannot study the leaf, without also studying the branches and the fruit.  According to this verse, I am a branch plugged into the true vine (or think trunk, for a tree).  So my question is becoming this:

What is the “leaf” vs. what is the “fruit”?

Several places in the Scriptures, the word “fruit” is often associated with the words “in season,” which would imply there are times that we do not produce fruit.  (See: Num 13:20;  Ps 1:3; Hos 9:10;  Matt 21:34; Matt 21:41; Acts 14:17 as a few examples of fruit associated with season).

This opens up a whole line of questioning about what I’ve always defined as “fruit” – think the Gal 5:22-23 “fruits of the Spirit”.  If there are seasons of no fruit by definition, then “fruit in season” can’t mean what I’ve thought it meant, because I should be producing the fruits of the Spirit, year round, regardless of the season.


The Actual First Leaf (Gen 3:7)

Genesis 3:7
7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.

OK, I missed this form of the word “leaf” as it was the plural, “leaves”.

I find this verse interesting that Adam and Eve used leaves to cover themselves after the fall. That was the best they could come up with to cover themselves. God’s solution required the death of an animal – the spilling of blood – as does his requirement for all sin.

Thus, the leaf, in this verse could kinda be a picture of the fruit of their fallen life. The best they could come up with. It would never be good enough, however as the leaves would eventually dry up and tear, and they would just have to be getting and making more. Of course, there was no death at this point was there? They likely hadn’t seen any dead leaves at this point. They may have thought they would be a long-term solution, but it wouldn’t be.

So, I guess this could paint a picture that the leaf is evidence of what our life is about. Evidence, in this case, of a sinful life.

I am going somewhere with this series …

The First Leaf (Gen 8:11)

Genesis 8:6-12 (ESV)

6 At the end of forty days Noah opened the window of the ark that he had made 7 and sent forth a raven. It went to and fro until the waters were dried up from the earth. 8 Then he sent forth a dove from him, to see if the waters had subsided from the face of the ground. 9 But the dove found no place to set her foot, and she returned to him to the ark, for the waters were still on the face of the whole earth. So he put out his hand and took her and brought her into the ark with him. 10 He waited another seven days, and again he sent forth the dove out of the ark. 11 And the dove came back to him in the evening, and behold, in her mouth was a freshly plucked olive leaf. So Noah knew that the waters had subsided from the earth. 12 Then he waited another seven days and sent forth the dove, and she did not return to him anymore.

So, as I mentioned in my first post. God has captured my attention on leaves and tonight I looked up all the references to the word “leaf” or “leaves” (the noun, not the verb). There were much fewer than I anticipated. There are twenty-one references that I found tonight. It’s possible I’ve not exhausted all the ways to search for the word in my bible program, but I’ll start with that for now.

This verse is the first mention of the actual word “leaf”. It is implied many times in the first chapter of Genesis when God is creating the world with trees and seeds and plants and vegetation. But here, is the first accounting of a leaf.

In this verse, the leave is freshly plucked.

  • It shows life. It signifies signs of growth after a purification and cleansing of God. It demonstrates that God does not destroy his creation, but makes it new. It screams newness, freshness and being alive.
  • It thrives on sunlight. So the leaf, biologically, is required to receive the energy from the sun. This is where photosynthesis occurs. From Wikipedia: Photosynthesis is a metabolic pathway that converts carbon dioxide into organic compounds, especially sugars, using the energy from sunlight. Were I a botanist, I bet there is a whole host of biological processes that are incredible pictures of how God relates to us and loves us and how he created us to be. I imagine the entire study of plants points directly to God. From my non-botany background, I think it’s cool that the plants of the earth cannot live with out the Sun.
  • It’s where the dove went to.  I think you know as well as I do that the Holy Spirit is often demonstrated as a Dove (Matt 3:16 – The Holy Spirit came on Jesus like a dove).  In verse 12, once the waters had receded, the dove landed on the branch.  It was where it needed to be.  It was where it wanted wanted to take up residence.

How do I mirror the leave of Gen 8?

  • I cannot live without the Son.
  • The evaluation becomes for me is this. Am I showing life? Am I signifying signs of growth after God cleansed me? Do I demonstrate the new creation I’ve become? Do I scream newness, freshness and being alive?
  • Am I where the Holy Spirit wants to dwell and take up residence? Am I living fully submitted so He can?

I am sure there is at least one more object lesson in the fact that it was an olive leaf.  But it’s late and I’m tired.

I’ll dig into more of the “leaf” verses over the coming days….