John 15:4-8 – “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.”
Here’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.
Abiding. Here’s how good old Webster’s 1828 defines abiding – “Dwelling; remaining; continuing; enduring; awaiting.”
It’s kinda like the wheels on a car. They have to be in line to work properly. If one is out of whack, the car drives crazy. You can’t have one wheel in front of the other. They have to work together to make the car go straight.
We have to allow Jesus to dwell in us. We have to abide or stay in Him. If we get out of line, everything goes crazy. We can’t stay on the narrow way when we are out of line with Him.
And then there’s the whole fruit aspect of these verses. We kind of touched on this in the last blog post, but in case you have forgotten – you can’t bear fruit without Jesus. You have to be attached to Him.
Now you can grow yucky fruit. Fruit that is not sweet or pure or beneficial. But this kind of fruit has no benefit. It does not make life better by knowing it is there.
If you want to grow and produce some type of fruit, the plant has to have a source for nutrients. The branches where the fruit is produced must be attached to a base or a vine that can sustain the plant and give it what it needs to grow good fruit. There is a reason Jesus used this analogy – those He was speaking to knew farming and gardening. They understood and realized the necessity behind what He was saying. This wasn’t rocket science. This was real life.
They understood that if a branch in their vineyard wasn’t producing, the logical thing to do was cut it off and burn it, get rid of it. They knew that in order for the grapes to grow, the branches where the flowers bloomed must stay attached to the vine. This was their life; this is what they knew.
Jesus wasn’t speaking to them in some weird language. He was speaking to them in a way that they can understand and that people throughout the ages could understand. I may not tend a vineyard, but I know enough to know how things like that sort of work. I can get the gist of it.
God still speaks like that to us today. He is telling us here in these verses – “You MUST be attached to Jesus if you want any thing productive to go on in your life. And if you aren’t doing something, well then, drastic measures are going to have to go on to get your attention and to get you back to where you need to be. I do this because I love you and I want you to be the best you can be.” (Melissa interpretation here.)
I know when I have had a garden in the past, I go out there and hope that there will be nothing that I need to do to make the vegetables grow. I hope that the plants are growing up with no issues, that the weeds are not there and that all of the branches are producing fruit or vegetables. But deep down, I know that will not be the case. I know I will need to pluck and prune and rake the soil around a bit. I know that if I want a bountiful harvest, I’m going to have to work at it.
God is the same way. He would like for things just to go along smoothly and everyone accept Jesus for who He is and what He has done. But He knows that it takes work. The human race has been work since day 1 and we will continue to be work until the very last day. But God is full of grace and mercy and He wants to make our life here the fullest and most profitable that it can be. We just have to let Him do the pruning, the raking, the weed pulling and the fertilizing. And above all else, we MUST stay attached to the Vine. Otherwise, we will perish without His nurturing love.