John 15:4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
Jesus uses the image of a gravevine to illustrate an important spiritual truth. After all, grapevines were everywhere in Jesus’ world since grapes and wine were a staple of the Mediterranean diet. In this metaphor God the Father is the vine-grower, Jesus is the vine, and we Christians are the branches that bear fruit. Like most things in creation, grapevines do not bear fruit year-around.
There are times when the branches have to be cut back and the entire vine given time to rest. This generally happens during the colder months when branches are pruned. The branches that have been pruned almost look like they’re cut off completely, but they’re not. There’s just a nub left, but it’s still there. And while nothing appears to be happening with the branches during this time of abiding, nothing could be further form the truth.
During this non-growing season the entire vine and all the branches are being strengthened in preparation for the next growing season – when the branches will grow again, flowers bloom, then fruit emerge from the branches. So there is a rhythm of bearing fruit in the growing season, pruning, then abiding for several months to start the entire process over again.
In our passage Jesus says that Christians cannot bear fruit if we do not abide in Him. Like the plant, we need times of rest to be strengthened, renewed, and refreshed so that we can once again bear fruit for the Kingdom of God. One form of abiding is taking a Sabbath day each week. But periodically we need longer breaks, like retreat/vacation.
This coming week I’m taking time to abide, which means I will not be posting here until the following week. If you’d like to read earlier posts to this blog in order to continue your discipline, please feel free. I’ve posted 1,605 entries into this blog so there’s plenty to choose from!
I’ll look forward to resuming my writing on 6/29.
Lord Jesus, give us grace to abide in you, for you are the source of our capacity to grow fruit for your Kingdom. We pray this in your holy name. Amen.