Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
Maybe you’re like me, and you’ve read this passage so many times that now you’re actually skimming over the verses instead of truly taking them in. How about we go back together and read them one more time. Before we do, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s Word in our hearts.
I love this parable from Jesus. I don’t have the best memory, but any time truth is paired with an illustration it comes to life for me. The idea of Jesus being the Vine, God the Father being the Vinedresser and the branch being a representation of us as believers is such a beautiful depiction of God’s kindness and desire for us to understand the rest we find in our relationship with him.
In this chapter, John uses the word “abide” eleven times. “Abide in me!” I read that statement and immediately see it as something I need to accomplish. Abiding is something we must do. But if we take a closer look at what the parable is saying, we see that Jesus is the one who will keep us and enable us to abide! Just as He is the one who saved us, He is the one who keeps us!
Without the vine, the branch can do nothing. The vine gathers nutrients and sustenance from the soil and provides it to the branch. And all that the vine possesses belongs to the branch! Abiding isn’t doing; abiding is accepting our position in Jesus, yielding to be kept there, and surrendering in faith to let the vine hold the branch. Our part is simply to trust and to wait and let God do the work.
For me, this has recently looked like intentionally turning my heart to a posture of listening. Positioning myself to pay attention when God speaks. Like Samuel to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10) And the crazy thing is, as I listen and trust and yield, God is lifting a weight of performance and striving off of my shoulders. He is reminding me that even my doing and working are the fruits of His work in me.
And so I pray each of us may rest in the freedom Jesus is offering us today with his invitation to “abide in me.” I pray as we surrender our hearts to His Spirit we’ll be propelled by His strength, His grace and His love!