“’I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will 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. 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.’” John 15: 1-5
The Believer’s Bible Commentary has an enlightening take on these verses:
“The Christian has been placed in Christ; that is his position…A branch abides in a vine by drawing all its life and nourishment from the vine…Christ himself is the vine; believers are vine branches. It is not a question of the branch living its life for the Vine, but simply of letting the life of the Vine flow out through the branches. Sometimes we pray, ‘Lord, help me to live my life for You.’ It would be better to pray, ‘Lord Jesus, live out Your life through me.' Without Christ, we can do nothing. A vine branch has one great purpose—to bear fruit. It is useless for making furniture or for building homes. It does not even make good firewood. But it is good for fruit bearing—as long as it abides in the vine.” Believer’s Bible Commentary by William MacDonald
I love this because transferring our “live out my life for You” to “Lord, live out Your life through me” really does put God in the position of Gardener, not us. So often we co-opt Christianity and forge ahead without, in true humility, taking every thought captive to Christ. It’s like trying to grow sunflowers in shade or woodland Trilliums in full sun. We think we can will things to happen through sheer determination instead of allowing the life of Christ to grow in and out of us through His Holy Spirit.
The only way Christ can live through us is when we allow Him to take His rightful place as Vine, God to take His rightful place as Gardener, and we our rightful place as branches that exist only because Christ gives us life through Himself. We don’t exist first, and then Christ outside of us. God tends, Jesus anchors and feeds and we bear fruit as a result. The process cannot be reversed or re-arranged, as if we could somehow grow Christ.
Today I give God His trowel and pruning sheers back and take my rightful place as a branch on the True Vine of Jesus Christ.
“If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given to you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:6