Authored by Martha Dodd
Read: John 15:4-5
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
In this season of upheaval and disruption, as we enter the 11th month of a global pandemic, what reassuring words do you long to hear? Would you have thought of these verses from the above passage?
Last week, Pastor Ray preached on these verses as he continued to unpack our position in Christ. Do you remember the context for these words? Jesus was in the upper room with his disciples, preparing them for His imminent departure. He had just promised that He would send the Helper, the Holy Spirit, who would be with them, to remind them of everything He had taught them. It was as they began their walk toward the Garden of Gethsemane, that Jesus spoke these words. He knew that the next few hours ahead would challenge each of the disciples to the core, and He wanted to give them a clear picture of their position in Him.
So, He used images of a vineyard to both reassure their frightened hearts – and ours – and remind them – and us – where the power would come from to be transformed into people who bear much fruit. Jesus said to them and us, that we are the branches – that’s our position – and He is the Vine. When we abide in Him, we will bear much fruit- the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) as well as the fruit of good works He has prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
What does it mean to abide? Pastor Ray reminded us that it means to “stay right here, to remain, to stay close to Jesus.” And he encouraged us to continually be cleansed by the “washing of water with the Word” (Ephesians 5:26) as we spend time listening to, reading, studying and meditating on Scripture. When we do this, we place ourselves before God so that He can transform us.
Reading the Bible, prayer and worship don’t make us bear fruit; rather, they create space for God to do the trans-formative and healing work in our thoughts and attitudes, which in turn, allows us to bear good fruit.
Does this require any effort on our part? We each have the capacity to choose how we will respond to Jesus’ invitation to “Come to Me.” We can choose whether or not we will present our hearts, minds and bodies to abide with our friend, Jesus. And as we do, the Holy Spirit does in us that we cannot do for ourselves, by our own willpower – He transforms us from one degree of glory into another to be more loving, joyful, peaceable, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle and self-controlled people. This is the “much fruit” that brings glory to our Father.
Thank You, Lord, that You are the same, yesterday, today, and forever. Please help us to reframe the uncertainty of these days with the reassuring certainty of Your promise, that You are the Vine and we are the branches. Thank you that as we abide in You, Your Spirit enables us to bear much good fruit – fruit that will last.