“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)
In John 15, Jesus used an extended metaphor involving a grapevine and its branches. He Himself was identified as the ‘true vine.’ The Father was the ‘vinedresser’ or caretaker of the vine. And the vine had two types of branches: 1) branches that bear fruit, and 2) branches that do not bear fruit.
Some people profess to be followers of Christ, and they genuinely are! Their lives are a testimony to their faith in Jesus. Others think or even say that they are Christians, but their lives say something else. (Some branches bear fruit, while others do not.)
Some interpret the metaphor to say that both the fruitless branch and the fruitful branch refer to true believers. But nowhere in the New Testament are nonbelievers said to be ‘in me’ (Christ). Therefore, the branch that does not bear fruit would represent someone distant from the Lord.
Others (the majority of evangelical scholars) conclude that there are two different kinds of branches. The fruitless one is like Judas – associated with Jesus but having no true connection with Him and therefore no fruit. The one that bears fruit, receives pruning, and bears more fruit, represents the true believer.
The true believer was to ‘abide.’ That word means to remain or stay around. Is that a good characterization of your relationship with Jesus? Are you in close fellowship with Him? Is your life on a trajectory of growth in Jesus? It may not be evident in ‘leaps and bounds,’ but it is progressive – it is moving in the right direction!
The teaching from this passage that has often caught my attention is found in verse 5 where Jesus said, “…apart from me you can do nothing.” A detached branch could not bear fruit – it would need to be connected to the vine. Believers need a close connection with our ‘Vine’ in order to bear fruit for His Kingdom. Is that happening in your life?
Terry Baxter recently spoke on renewal at Redeemer. He raised a question that relates to our relationship with the Lord. Terry asked, “Do you study about God, or do you meet with God?” As he continued to talk, a question kept coming back to me – “Can there be renewal without confession and prayer?” How important it is for us to ‘meet with God’! As I thought more about this, I realized the need for D.E.P.T.H. There is a need for an abiding branch to: Daily Enter a Position To Hear.
”Apart from me you can do nothing…” Can you…will you put yourself in a position to hear from God on a regular basis? Continue to meet with God and bear fruit for His Kingdom.