“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NLT2)
John 15 reveals the secret to the victorious Christian life with two pictures of the Christ follower: branches and friends. Jesus reveals both our privileges and our responsibilities. As branches, we have the privilege of sharing His life and the responsibility of remaining in Him. As friends, we have the privilege of knowing His will and the responsibility of obeying.
To understand this chapter, it’s important to identify the characters portrayed in the picture Jesus draws. The Father is the Gardener. Jesus is the Vine. You and I are the branches. Each has a vital role to play for fruit to be produced. It’s a beautiful picture of living the Christian life in the fullness of the Spirit. None of us can produce the fruit of the Spirit. Only the Holy Spirit can produce the fruit that reflects the likeness and character of Jesus in our lives. Branches bear the fruit the vine produces to the degree that the branch is connected to the life-giving source of the vine and remains healthy. The Gardener will sometimes prune the branches or cut them back so that they will be more fruitful!
For our lives to be fruitful, we must remain in the Vine. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to produce what only God can. Our job is to remain restfully available and instantly obedient. A branch simply abides. It bears the fruit the vine produces.
My favorite verse in this chapter is verse 11:
“I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!”
Our joy overflows when we share that intimate friendship with the Lord Jesus that God intended. Just as Jesus obeyed the Father, we are challenged to obey Him in everything, resting in the confidence that He will produce all that He expects in our lives as we remain in His love. How do we remain in His love? He tells us in verse 10:
“When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.”
What a privilege God has given us to be called His friends! It is a personal relationship with a depth of intimacy the world cannot understand or share. God chose you and appointed you to live a fruitful life with significance and meaning. A life that overflows with joy! As you read John 15, consider your role. Are you abiding in Christ? How connected are you? Have you been trying to produce what only God can do? Commit to abiding in Him. Remain in His love. If you’re feeling disconnected, it’s time to reconnect and open your heart to Him.