I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener . . . 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. John 15: 1, 4 -5
If we were asked today, what have been your greatest accomplishments in life thus far, how would you answer? I am sure it would give us pause, and then we might consider things that have brought us a sense of pride, such as in our jobs, our communities, our churches, or our families. We might name our children whom we have raised to be good adults, or we might even list material things, such as having enough money to be able to care for our families or to retire, or being able to buy a home or start a business of our own.
Surely all these things seem to be worthwhile endeavors, but in God’s eyes, would any of these be major accomplishments worthy of His praise? A humbling thought, isn’t it?
This verse makes us realize what God considers most valuable or important in our lives, and that is that our primary desire and purpose should be to bear fruit for Him.
I love the different analogies found in Scripture: Christ as the Shepherd, and we, as His lambs; God as the Potter, and we, as the clay; Christ as the bridegroom waiting for His bride – we, His believers who will spend eternity with Him when He comes for us; and this one, God as the Gardener, Jesus as the vine, and we believers, as His branches.
This one is equally as beautiful and is found as part of Christ’s discourse to His disciples at the Last Supper shortly before He was arrested and crucified. It was His final message to His faithful followers, and He knows how important it is that they understand that He is leaving them and that they must “remain in Him” by faith.
He presses upon them the need to love one another and find comfort in each other. He knows they will face many hardships as they carry on His gospel, and He wants to prepare them for what lies ahead. He especially wants them to understand that they will not be alone, that He will always be with them.
He compares Himself to a vine and the disciples and all other believers as branches who must remain in Him to bear fruit – fruit that will carry His Word throughout the land, will help others to know His love and grace, and will bring peace, hope, and joy to many.
What a beautiful message not only for his disciples, but for us as well, as we are reminded that we must always abide in Christ, to let Him live in our hearts. “Our branches” need to be connected to “the vine” at all times, for without Him, we can do nothing in and of ourselves.
It is the life of Christ flowing through us that produces the kind of fruit the Father desires. The branch has no life within itself. It draws its life from the vine. There is nothing more worthless than a dead branch that is not connected to the vine and does not bear fruit. We believers, like branches of the vine, are weak and insufficient to stand alone. We need Him to help us to honor God, to do good, to live the exemplary life we desire, and especially to guide us as we let others know about His grace and love.
It is in His divine power that we live and have our being. It is only through Him that “the vine” and His Word can spread throughout the earth. May we always “remain” in Him.
Dear Lord, thank you that you live in us and stay connected to us, for without you, life would have such little meaning. May our lives bear fruit for you and glorify your most holy name. Amen