I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. John 15:5-6
From the vantage of the law (Romans 6:14), this passage brings a healthy dose of fear (1 John 4:18) in one’s heart. Suddenly the accuser has his door of access into our mind:
“You don’t bear fruit, look at what you said to your spouse this morning.”
“You don’t bear fruit, listen to your language.”
“You don’t bear fruit, when was the last time you introduced Jesus to anyone?”
On and on the thoughts pour in, judging our ever word, action, and intention. The crux of it all? You are simply not good enough! Under the law (Romans 6:14), we are pushed into a perform of die environment.
THIS IS NOT OUR GOD.
I intentionally left out the first five verses, though I’m referencing them, due to the lawful mindset of so many. First, let me say that where fear lives, love is absent. Say it again? Love and fear, like oil and water, do not mix. You either have fear, or you have love. You cannot have both (Matthew 6:24; Luke 6:13).
God’s thoughts for you are only of blessing, healing, and goodness (Isaiah 55:9; Psalm 139:17-18; Jeremiah 29:11). He does not give us fear (2 Timothy 1:7). So, let’s look at this wonderful teaching, and what it means for is.
As a descendant of farmers, I have some direct cultural experience in the understanding of crop management. Grapes, in particular benefit from heavy trims, especially after winter. It allows the branches to maintain a certain size, while putting all energy from the plant into fruit production.
Jesus gives a few keys for us. He is the vine. He is the one who is solely responsible as the vine to provide life to the branches. It is the root structure of a grape vine that determines the fruit production. Good producing vines must suffer, and work hard to grow (Isaiah 53:10). Jesus suffered, bled, and died so that we wouldn’t have to. He paid our debt in full, because we couldn’t.
The next key is that Jesus said we must abide in Him, or we could do nothing. This is powerful. What Jesus is saying is that His grace is all we need. He is calling us to stay in grace. This is not a call of performance, but abiding. It’s all about resting. Jesus said the Father is the vine dresser. Our Heavenly Father is the one who ties us, the branches securely onto supports so that we can rest. The root of the vine suffers, the branches are tied down to rest. The vine supplies sap and life to the branches—but how? The answer is the wood. There is no difference in the wood of the vine or the wood of the branch.
Paul wrote to Galatia and said, “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain (Galatians 2:20-21).”
In this passage, Paul identifies the cross—the wood of the vine as the connection to life and grace. Paul says, “Christ lives in me.” This statement shows us that through the cross we are attached to the vine, where the life of Christ in grace is what causes us to live.
As a result of the cross, we are bound through the same wood of the vine to receive all that the life of the vine contains, life, faith, love, righteousness, grace, and fruit (see Luke 15:1-6; Galatians 2:20).
From the vantage of grace, the abiding Jesus is talking is one of staying on the cross (1 Corinthians 15:31), and as a result allowing the life of Christ to flow in and through us. The fruit, which is the direct result of the suffering work of the vine is ours to bear, freely given from the vine, “for without me you can do nothing,” Jesus said.
Come to Calvary, Rest in grace, and you will bear much fruit—he loves you so much, that the reward of His work is freely given to you to display for the Father (the vine dresser), and all who are hungry and thirsty.