“I am the true vine…”
A vine is the source of life for a branch. Branches have meaning and purpose as long as they are attached to the vine. Cut a branch off of the vine and support is severed. Life is lost. “Dead sticks” is how we refer to branches no longer attached to vines.
“I am the true vine,” Jesus said in John 15:1, “and my Father is the vinedresser.” Vinedressers exercise authority over vines. They “take away” every branch that does not bear fruit and “prune” every branch that does, “that it may bear more fruit” (15:2).
The branch’s responsibility in all this? To “abide.”
“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.” (15:4)
“Abide” is closely related to “abode.” My abode is my home, my habitation, where I dwell or reside. I abide in my abode. But how is it possible to “abide” in someone? Someone I’ve never seen? How could I ever hope to “abide” in a person who lived 2,000 years ago?
In his first letter, the same apostle John offers insight and encouragement to those of us who weren’t in the upper room that night.
Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. (1 John 2:24)
Jesus’ words continue to be a source of life. As we submit to them, drawing our sense of meaning, purpose, and support from them, a “home” is established. “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). Abiding leads to an abode we share with the life-giving vine and the gracious vinedresser.
By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:5-6)
To “abide” in Jesus is to listen to him, to follow him, to trust the pruning work of our mutual Father in heaven.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit…” (John 15:5)
Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness. Gentleness. Self-control. The “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal 5:22-23). When we “walk by the Spirit” (Gal 5:16), following the lead of the Spirit (Gal 5:18), keeping “in step with” the Spirit (Gal 5:25b), living “by” the Spirit (Gal 5:25a), we are “abiding” in Jesus. We are “at home” with the Source of life, as branches are “at home” through their connection to a vine. “Apart” from him, we can do “nothing” (John 15:5). Apart from him, we die.
Our responsibility, our privilege is to “abide.” Trust. Follow. Believe. Bear. Endure. Enjoy. Wait. Anticipate.
Little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. (1 John 2:28)
The vine lives today. The vinedresser isn’t through with you yet. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples” (John 15:8).