Wednesday, August 20, 2008



In John 15:1-11 Jesus gives the three primary relationships of life-your relationship with Jesus, your relationship with other disciples of Jesus and your relationship with the world. Each relationship builds on the other. The first is the most important of all and it pictures the disciples as a branch attached to Jesus, the vine. So, Jesus is the vine and His disciples are the branches who have the natural purpose of being fruitful. I want to work our way through the first 5 verses today and then the rest of this section tomorrow. 1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

Jesus begins speaking of two kinds of branches-one that is not bearing fruit and one that is bearing fruit. Note what is done to each one. First-the branch that is not bearing fruit. It says in most translations, "He takes away". At first glance, it sounds as if the unfruitful branch is somehow removed from being a branch. I don't believe this is what is meant here. The word used here might just as easily be translated "to lift up." TO LIFT UP THE BRANCH. Now that makes more sense to me! We're dealing with branches and a common problem with branches is when they droop down and touch the ground. Touching the ground will surely destroy the branch and its fruitfulness. So, God, the vine-dresser, when He sees a branch drooping and touching the ground, lifts up that branch and places it where it can be fruitful again. I love this! The Lord is so committed that we become fruitful that He is in the vineyard looking for those who have drooped to the ground.

Second-the branch that is bearing fruit. On the other hand, the branch that is bearing fruit must be pruned in order to increase its fruitfulness. That pruning is painful, because the pruning process requires that not only the dead parts are cut off but also part of the living parts as well.

So, have you ever been one of these branches? Have you ever been drooped down so low that you have become unfruitful? Or, have you found yourself questioning some of the painful experiences in your life? Either way, be assured that the Lord is more devoted to your fruitfulness than you are! He will do anything to bring you to Him and then to make your life meaningful and fruitful-anything!

It seems that there are two bottom-line requirements from Jesus here. FIRST-He requires that you be interested-interested enough to lean in with your heart and seek more from Him. SECOND-He requires that you cooperate with being a branch. He'll do the rest. You can't produce fruit; only the Lord can do that!

Jesus continues to describe this unique relationship between the vine and its branches and explains how it all works: 4 "Abide in Me, and I in you." This is the most dynamic principle you'll ever encounter! It's a reciprocal relationship! You abide-remain, stay with, wait on, hang out with, continue with-Jesus and Jesus remains, hangs out and continues with you. Are you getting this? Jesus, the Son of God, created you to be completely inhabited by Him!

Jesus goes on to say: "As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." Jesus goes on to say something that blows my mind! I have read this over and over and talked about it more than most passages of Scriptures, but Jesus is speaking of a daily, moment-by-moment reality. Just as a branch is unable to be fruitful on its own, so we cannot do anything without hanging on to our relationship with Jesus. But wait a minute. Does He really mean I can't do anything!!!??? What Jesus is saying is that we cannot do anything without recognizing, depending and drawing our strength from Him. Can this be true? Is it true in your life?

Dr. Dallas Willard, a friend and marvelous professor (USC) says on this subject: "However we may understand the details there can be no doubt, on the biblical picture of human life, that we were meant to be inhabited by God and live by a power beyond ourselves. Human problems cannot be solved by human means. Human life can never flourish unless it pulses with "the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe." (Eph. 1:19) But only constant students of Jesus will be given adequate power to fulfill their calling to be God's person for their time and their place in this world.

There is no better visual for all who want to walk with Jesus. Note that He doesn't say "If you abide in Me, you can be a more faithful believer." He doesn't give any alternatives to being a branch. He doesn't give any other option than being a branch. He gives absolutely no wiggle room at all. We are expected to be positioned as a fruitful branch, intimately connected with Jesus, the vine.

These words resonate with me: "Abide in Me and I in you. Without Me you can do nothing." Do you believe this? Do you see the power of this image of a branch and a vine? There is no way you can bear fruit on your own and there is no way you can do anything that really matters for the Kingdom, UNLESS you hang on to the vine for your strength, nurture and power. Do you want it? I want this with all my heart. Let's go for it together! Let's make like branches and abide in Him!