“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
I am absolutely hopeless with plants. Every time I think it would be nice to have a pot plant in my house, I inevitably kill it off. Recently, I thought it was different. On a recent trip to Kew Gardens, I developed a childlike fascination with the carnivorous plants, particularly the classic Venus Fly Trap. When we reached the shop at the end of my visit, I decided that I would buy one. This plant, I decided, would be different. I would look after it, and it would live for longer than a couple of weeks. Well, it did, but after the third week it died. I guess I’m just not cut out for looking after plants!
In today’s verse, Jesus compares himself to a vine. Vines are vast plants that shoot off hundreds of branches from the one central stem. My uncle, Rod, has one in his conservatory, and if he didn’t look after it, it would rapidly grow so that no one could sit in the sun. We, Jesus says, are like those branches. We need to stay connected to Jesus, the central stem of the vine, if we are to bear fruit. A branch that is no longer connected to the vine cannot grow any fruit, and will eventually die off. Those that are connected to the vine, however, will continue to bear fruit, year after year. If we bear spiritual fruit, then we demonstrate that we are still “in” Christ, and therefore can be assured of our salvation. If, however, we separate ourselves from Jesus, we can do nothing – we will be unable to produce any spiritual fruit at all. If that is the case, then like the branch that becomes detached from the vine, we will wither and die.
Are you rooted in Christ? Are you connected to the vine? Do you bear spiritual fruit that demonstrates that you are a follower of Christ?