“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 NLT
In the final days before his crucifixion and Easter resurrection, Jesus continued his work of teaching his disciples and preparing them for what was about to happen. Jesus used several metaphors to describe his character. “I am the good shepherd.” “I am the door to life.” “I am the light of the world.” “I am the bread of life.” In John 15:1 Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” How does a vine and a gardener describe Jesus and his disciples?
First, a vine has to be well rooted in good soil. Likewise, Jesus is solidly planted. He is unmovable and unchangeable. Yet he came to us. John 1 tells us that Jesus existed from the beginning and that he is one who brought forth life and light. Disciples know that Jesus is the solid rock and that he is Truth.
Second, Jesus is the true vine that brings life. Without Jesus there is no life. “For apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus is the source of life. All life originates from him and through him.
Third, branches grow from the vine. Branches don’t grow on their own. In fact, Jesus said that branches that are not attached will be gathered into a pile to be burned (15:6). Similarly, we must remain in Christ in order to grow and to produce fruit.
Fourth, the gardener prunes the branches in order to grow more fruit. The goal of a gardener is to have a healthy garden filled with an abundance of fruit. A gardener is not satisfied with a plant that does not produce. The Father Gardener prunes us – not to be malicious, but in order to make us healthy and to grow the best fruit. We are created to be fruitful. Jesus said, “When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” (15:8)
We are to remain in the love of Jesus by doing what he instructed us to do. And what exactly is that? Is it a long list? We have a habit of making “remaining in Jesus” something complicated that guarantees failure. However, that is not the way of Jesus. Multiple times he sums up all his commands like he did in this passage. “This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” (John 15:12). How much does he love us? “You didn’t choose me. I chose you.” (John 15:16) Out of all creation, he chose you just as you are. He loves you so much that he didn’t wait for you to choose him. He chose you. He loves you.
And now, love each other in the same way that Christ loves you. This command has the power to change the world. Let’s fill this world with the fruit that brings glory to the Father Gardener.