Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener…. 5 “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.” (John 15:1,5)
Jesus uses the analogy of a vineyard to explain some important things. God the Father is like a gardener, and in His vineyard, Jesus is like the vine. In Israel, vines in a typical vineyard grow about 3 feet out of the ground, and then from there, the branches grow. If all is well with the branches, they produce fruit: grapes. In this analogy, who is represented by the branches? Believers in Jesus are.
We are the branches, Jesus is the vine, and God the Father is the gardener. Now, think about this for a moment. Where does the life of the branch come from? The vine, who is Jesus. It is not us, the branches, that bring life to another branch. You cannot be someone’s vine. Only Jesus can. Sometimes we think and act like we are the vine. But God didn’t make us to be the vine. He made us to be branches. If you think about it, this is really good news for you and for me, because it takes the burden off us. We can let Jesus do his work and nourish souls. Life and hope and joy and peace come from Him.
The other problem that sometimes happens is that we lose sight of the true vine. Sadly, some of us go to someone or something else to be our vine. Maybe it’s a spouse, or a friend, or our kids, or our job, or success, or health, or beauty. But none of those things or people were ever meant to be our vine. Only Jesus can be the source of joy and strength and hope and life that we need. His life flowing to us, and through us enables us to produce fruit—the fruit of good works.
Good works/deeds or “fruit” is something that we do which shows what we believe. It is making a meal for someone in need. It is holy living. It is spending time in prayer. It is meditating on Scripture. It is sending a note of encouragement. It is showing hospitality. It is sharing the gospel with someone. It is using our time, treasure, and talents to serve others and in doing so serve Christ. Jesus said that the purpose for his followers is to “bear much fruit.” Yet, notice how we can do that? We must “remain” in Him, or as some English version say, we must “abide” in Christ. This means to go to him each day: To talk to him; to spend time with him; to hear from him; to respond to him in obedience. Fruitfulness flows from that relationship with Christ. Will you let that relationship be your number one priority? Your spiritual fruitfulness depends on it. Apart from Him we can do nothing.