In John 15, Jesus uses an illustration of a vine and branches to help us understand how to truly thrive in life:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“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. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. John 15:1-11
This passage provides three simple truths to help us understand how to abide.
1) Jesus is the true vine.
The “true” vine is authentic and genuine, the trunk of a great plant which is the source of life for all the branches. Jesus is the true, authentic, vine that gives us abundant life.
If you break off the branch of a grape vine, sap starts to ooze out of it because the sap is under pressure inside the vine. The vine pushes life into the branches, as Jesus pushes life into us, causing us to grow. If we are connected to Jesus, He pushes His love, joy, and peace into our lives; all we have to do is stay connected to Him.
Jesus wants to fill you with life, but the only way to really experience thriving life is to stay connected to Him. Are you connected? Have you asked Him to do fill you?
2) We are the branches.
As branches, we are completely dependent on something else to give us life. We cannot make It happen on our own. Disconnected branches wither and die, as they seek life from things that can never provide it: power, money, success, careers, education, relationships, etc.
But because Jesus is the only source of life, branches that are connected to Him look different. When we are connected to Jesus, we bear fruit and we are overflowing with joy and love.
Jesus gives us three ways to stay connected to Him:
- Stay in His Word. When you have your coffee in the morning, open your Bible, and read a verse, and reflect on it. Listen to sermons when you drive. Download podcasts, watch the Miles a Minute app, read a devotional. Set your mind on godly things and listen to His voice.
- Obey his commands. Every morning, ask God, “What do you want me to do today?” with a wide open heart, and then do those things!
- Continue in His love. Come to Him when you make mistakes and confess. Find time to just relax with Him and spend time in His presence.
3) The Father is the farmer.
The Father is not simply a gardener who makes things look nice. As the farmer, He has a plan and He wants a crop that produces the maximum amount of fruit. The Father is committed to helping you thrive. It’s not your effort – it’s the Father’s.
He does two things to help us thrive:
- He prunes and takes away the excess that keeps us from reaching our potential. He prunes away depression, selfishness, bitterness, and other negative things that keep us from experiencing the full potential of His good spiritual fruit.
- He takes away unfruitful branches that block the sunlight from the fruitful branches. You may have relationships in your life that are shading you from God’s love. He may cut these away from your life and He may help you end these unfruitful relationships so that you can thrive and bear fruit.
So how can you respond to these truths?
- If you are not connected to Jesus today, get connected! Believe that Jesus is the only true source of life. He loves you, died to forgive your sins, and rose from the dead that you may have eternal life. Ask God for forgiveness and ask Him to graft you into Jesus.
- Ask God for forgiveness and guidance every day, spending time in His Word and listening to His voice. Do His will as He speaks to you and engage in fruit-bearing ministry.
- Respond to the Father’s pruning. It’s time to respond to God’s plans for you. If you feel convicted about something unfruitful in your life, ask Him to prune it away that you can start to bear fruit.