It’s difficult to single out a phrase from Jesus without reading the context, though this was our challenge this week. Verse 4 in John’s Chapter 15 is surrounded by some great words of wisdom, words to chew on, an analogy to help us grasp a concept by which to live by. Jesus teaches us so well that a couple of thousand years later here we are - still pulling it apart and grappling with the practical applications.
Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
After the upper room, where the Disciples are most likely feeling a bit confused by the thought that Jesus was going to leave them; on their way down to Jerusalem, they pass by a vineyard. Jesus pauses for a moment. He likens himself to the Vine, and His Father to the gardener/vinedresser. He tells us that we are the branches and can only produce fruit if we remain in Him.
While pondering this for a few days, the concept of Symbiosis popped into my mind. In and of itself a branch can do nothing but wither away. Only attached to the Vine can it grow, but only if the Vine is attached to the roots, and only if the roots are well planted and feed. Hence the fruit can only grow when the gardener tends to the soil. This relationship is such a beautiful one, and it all focuses on the production of fruit - fruit flowers are beautiful, the fruit gives so much life to the recipient and is important for life - yet fruit did not grow itself.... behind it is some pretty serious love and nurture. Remind you of something? (A teenager perhaps? US?)
“Remain in Me, and I will remain in you”.....
Cause and effect? Reciprocal? Conditional Imperative?
This relationship is 100% dependant upon human will.
Today - Will I? Or Won’t I?
Within a branch is where all the action happens. The outer shell of the branch scales, ages and sheds as the inside grows, plumps. The natural end of the relationship is fruit, but in order to get there the branch has to grow. The inner fibres and tissues receive life and cleanse itself through the vine.
Interestingly, as the branch gets bigger and older, it actually produces bigger and better fruit.
When the gardener prunes, He also prunes off good healthy growth that may subtract away from the fruit.
Fruit can be enjoyed and the seed falls to the ground to continue the cycle of life - perhaps likened to us imparting into another persons child, or older women training the younger woman? Food for thought..
What is this fruit that should naturally grow out of the healthy relationship between the branch and the vine? Galatians 5:22-23 gives us some insight to this natural end that should be characteristic of every believer...... love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control.
Here is a relationship of submission - the Vine to the gardener, the branch to the Vine, the fruit to the branch. As the branch, we should drink in the life giving water that the Vine provides - the Holy Spirit, this leads to the natural end of fruit production and hence new life.
The word ‘remain’ is used as a verb, an action word, to permanently tarry when all others leave. It again points to our decisions....
Today, Will I? Or Won’t I?
Remaining attached to the Vine is to submit to the Vine dresser. To source our life and direction from the flowing waters/nourishment of the Holy Spirit.
Will I get my direction from the world or the Word?
If you decide today to remain in Jesus, it will lead to blessing and life.
If you decide today to not remain in Jesus it will lead to curse and death.
CHOOSE this day.....