“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Jesus used the simplest pictures to say the most profound things. I think that’s why I like them. They’re simple, and I like things simple. Like Bread and Water. The simplest things but the most profound pictures that Jesus painted through words.
And so, Jesus talked about the vine, and about the branches. The vine is where the Life is. And the branches attached to the vine have the Life of the vine flowing through them. And these branches bear fruit. Simple.
A branch that is not attached to the vine is still a branch. But it has no Life flowing through it, and it can’t bear fruit. The branch needs the Life of the vine to bear fruit. Detached from the vine it withers and bears no fruit.
When attached to the vine, the Life of the vine determines the fruit that is produced. The branch will produce the fruit that the vine intends it to produce, because of the Life that flows from the vine. The branch simply receives the flow of Life and the Life produces the fruit.
It seems to me that Jesus implies that the only fruit that matters is the fruit that comes from him, the Life that flows through us.
“Apart from me you can do nothing.”
I wonder also what other things we might be joined to, and what fruit they might be producing? It seems to me that we could be joined to something different, and be producing different fruit. Fruit that doesn’t matter to Jesus.
Just like the True Bread and the fake bread picture, there is the True Vine and the fake vine.
Maybe there are things masquerading as vines that aren’t even vines at all. Or maybe there are just fake vines which aren’t the true vine.
To explain the branch being attached to the vine, Jesus uses the words “abide” and “abides.” I automatically think of the words “abide in me” as meaning “to live in him.” And it is that.
But then I realised this. It’s so much more. The first meaning of the word abide in the dictionary is:
comply with, obey, observe, follow, keep to, hold to, conform to, adhere to, stick to, stand by, act in accordance with, uphold, heed, pay attention to, agree to/with, consent to, accede to, accept, acquiesce in, go along with, acknowledge, respect, defer to
The fruit produced is solely dependant on the Life from the vine. The branch obeys the instruction it receives, and produces the fruit the vine wants to. The branch can’t produce different fruit from what the vine intends. It’s what the vine intends or it’s no fruit at all.
And the amazing thing? Any branch that abides in the true vine can’t fail to produce his fruit. It’s actually impossible for the branch not to produce the fruit of the true vine, because the branch simply receives the Life and instruction of the vine and fruit is produced.
Eat the Bread, drink the Living Water. Abide in him in the fullest sense of the word!