Jesus was a big-time fan of metaphors and imagery. He was able to captivate the attention of the crowds that gathered to hear him speak, by using imagery to paint a deeper picture than words ever could.
In John 15:4 Jesus says;
“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.”
Jesus isn’t just passionately talking about gardening. In fact, Jesus is communicating a foundational statement of faith.
He is reminding us that if we are to grow, survive and bear fruit we need to remain in him. Jesus is talking about the connection we have with him. Connection with Jesus is easier said than done and for many of us we find it hard to work out what connecting with him looks like in our lives.
This is where Jesus’ use of imagery takes us to a deeper level.
Why did Jesus pick a vine? Just like the countless variety of vines, there are countless ways we can connect with Jesus. A vine has numerous branches, that have interesting ways of growing everywhere and anywhere. They show creativity in the way they do that and they can be relentless in their pursuit of light. The very attribute that makes a vine different from any other plant is that it ‘trails’ or ‘clings’. It is a reminder to us that we should exhibit that same tenacity and creativity in connecting or ‘clinging’ to Jesus.
If we removed a branch from the vine what would happen? There is nothing we can do as human beings to make that branch bear fruit. We can prolong that separation, by watering and caring for it but without being reunited with the vine, it will eventually wither away. The only way that branch will ever be fruitful is when it is grafted back in.
But let’s be honest, however good the image of a vine is sometimes, we can lose that tenacity and eagerness to cling to Jesus. The lack of things to look forward to, ongoing restrictions and lack of human interaction can discourage and cause us to wither within ourselves. This has a real impact on our willingness to respond to this challenge. The solution is found in remaining connected with Jesus (the vine).
There is something we haven’t mentioned, probably the most important part! Jesus says that we should remain in Him, as he remains in us. This is a promise that he does and will remain in us. We can take great courage in this. However, we are feeling, whatever is going on, this is a promise from God that He is with us.
That same tenacity a vine shows in its growth, Jesus shows us in our relationship with Him. He is asking us to cling to him as he clings to us. Let us connect with him and like the variety of vines we see let’s be creative in the way we do that.
Take encouragement from the truth that he is with you. That is a promise!