“Apart from me you can do nothing.”
While I was walking today, Jesus was speaking these words to me. What Jesus says about the vine and the branches has been a revelation to me. I love the simplicity. I love how at the same time as being incredibly simple, his words are also deeply profound. And I love how incredibly exciting it is to simply abide, to be a branch and let Life flow.
I’ve probably said it before, but as he reminds me, when he says there is nothing we can do apart from him, he really means it. What he says is completely true. And I definitely need reminding from time to time!
Jesus disciples were given plenty of instruction. They were given a commission, but it’s John who reveals the most intimate, deep and profound conversations that Jesus had with his disciples. Those that leave us in no doubt that it’s all about Christ in us, the Life of the Vine flowing through us as branches, or it’s nothing.
He highlighted the words of the prophet Isaiah today too.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.”
But in the light of Jesus revealing our relationship as branches of the Vine, every commandment takes on a new meaning.
Apart from him there is no bringing good news to the poor; no binding up the brokenhearted; there is no setting free of captives; no opening of prisons to those whose are bound.
And we can go on. Apart from him there is no healing the sick, raising the dead, or casting out demons.
Apart from him we can’t give Love. Peace. Joy.
Apart from him; nothing.
Jesus is so clear. A branch on its own, not abiding in the vine, cannot produce anything at all. The Vine, and the Life of the Vine are everything. With him is all. Apart from him, nothing.
The other thing that I was reminded of today is the difference between being a vessel for God to fill and a branch for the Vine to flow through.
A vessel has a finite capacity. There is always a limit. And the supply of a vessel can be exhausted too.
But the wonderful relationship that Jesus reveals to us as branches is that a branch doesn’t have to worry about it’s capacity. There isn’t a need for a branch to worry that the supply will run out. The Vinedresser makes sure of that. Life simply flows. Life doesn’t have to stop; Life doesn’t ever stop. Life flows as long as the branch is abiding in the Vine, and as long as fruit is produced. Those are the two things that matter to the Vinedresser says Jesus.
I find I need reminding regularly of my place. And I find that he is very ready to remind me! “Know your place. I’m the Vine. You’re a branch.” I become acutely aware of the fact, which it is, that apart from him I can do nothing. Everything depends on remaining in him.
Nothing else matters.
Eat the Bread, drink the Living Water. Let Life flow afresh today.