John 15:1-16 (CSB) 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. 10 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. 11 “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 12 “This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.
How does one even begin to narrow down the goodness of John 15 for a short blog post? It feels like cheating someone out of something. Go read it and enjoy the depth and glory of this chapter for yourself.
As we are walking together with Jesus to the cross let’s look at how Jesus told his disciples how to produce the fruit of belonging to his kingdom.
Those who by faith see Jesus for who he is and what he accomplishes have a mission to go and produce fruit that is lasting.
How do we do that?
Jesus is going away, but he promised to send another helper just like himself to be our ever-present guide and be his very presence with us.
Eleven times Jesus uses the word “remain”, as translated in the CSB. You’ll see that word translated as “abide” in the ESV. The word means to “remain” or “abide”. Duh! Captain Obvious writing the blog.
So, our English translations do it justice. But what does it mean? It means that we are to stay somewhere for some purpose.
Jesus’ agricultural illustration makes the point clear. We are like branches and he is the main vine. God the Father is the Gardener. Branches don’t have life in and of themselves. Branches get their life from the vine. Our task is to produce fruit, and the only way to pull that off is to keep our physical, emotional, and spiritual location in Jesus. If we don’t remain and produce fruit, the Gardener will gather us up and get rid of us. But if we remain and produce fruit, the Gardener will keep us pruned so we can be more fruitful.
Just like when a branch in a fruit-bearing vine is broken off it stops producing life, so if we don’t stay in, remain, abide in Jesus we won’t produce the fruit of his kingdom.
This language sounds passive until you pay attention to it closely. The very illustration and language are anything but passive. In fact, it’s about as active as it gets. Remain. Stay. Abide. With everything that matters on the line, remain. That is an active effort. As the life-giving vine holds on to the branch, the branch full of life holds on to the vine.
In fact, the only way to produce fruit that will remain is to go after his mission by actively engaging in the conflict with the dark kingdom through prayer as an act of remaining. That’s not passive. That work of prayer is the starting point of every activity that God has given us to do, and it is most active!
To remain in Christ is the very active fight to not give up and to stay the course of following Jesus.
This is going to be vital for the disciples in the coming hours because Jesus will go to the cross, and they will scatter and go into hiding. Will they give up on Jesus? Will they remain his followers? Will they believe against all odds? Will they hold on to what Jesus told them by faith?
Remain. We don’t see him now, but we will see him as he is on that day. Will you remain?