Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
By Gary Wilkerson
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches” (John 15:1-5).
On Jesus’ final night with his disciples, after they finished supper, he asked them to walk with him so that he could impart one last teaching. “Rise, let us go from here” (John 14:31). As they walked, Jesus summed up our relationship to him and the Father. The vine is Jesus — the source of all life flowing into us — and we are the branches extending from him. Overseeing all this life-flow is our heavenly Father, the gardener who tends to our growth. Could there be any more serene image of our life in Christ?
Yet, also embedded in this analogy is a different kind of image: “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away” (15:2). Many Christians flinch at this verse; nobody likes the thought of being “taken away” by God. This verse is reason enough to cling to a performance-driven religion, a system by which it can be measured whether we’re bearing fruit or not.
Our compassionate, loving Lord, however, is more than a life source to us — he is the life source. Other “vines” may promise life but none contain true life as he does. Christians may seek life from sources that seem good and legitimate — ambition and drive, success and comfort — but these vines in themselves are lifeless. Jesus wants us grafted into him so that we may drink deeply of his abundant life every day.
The vinedresser, our heavenly Father, tends his garden lovingly and perfectly, putting the right things into place to make them grow. But the good vinedresser also prunes — and that can be painful. However, Jesus makes it very clear that as we abide in him, the pruning will bring forth fruit that is glorious and could not have been produced on its own.
Jesus gave his disciples these beautiful, parting words: “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (15:11).