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Meditating Verse by Verse: John 15:5

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” –John 15:5

There is a lot of commonality between verses 4 and 5.  They both tell us to remain in Jesus as He remains in us and they both tell us that we need to remain in order to bear fruit.  So why did Jesus seemingly repeat Himself with verse 5?

I am the vine; you are the branches.

The initial thing that strikes me is that this is the first time He actually says that we are the branches.  We already knew He was the Vine, and that branches need to remain in the vine to produce fruit, but up until now He has not called us the branches. 

This sentence serves to remind us of the hierarchy and our relationship to Jesus.  Just as, in verse 1, Jesus said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.”  There is relationship and hierarchy in how the parts interact and submit.  Jesus solidifies our place in the garden by telling us that we are branches.  Branches that grow from Him.  Branches that need Him. 

If you remain in me and I in you.

Verse 4 had me puzzling over how an object could be in something, while that something is also in the object.  The image of an empty vessel submerged in water really helped me understand how that is possible.  And yet, here we are again with Jesus telling us to remain in Him while He is in us. 

At least in English, we do not say that a branch is IN a vine or tree.  We usually say “on”.  The branch is on the vine.  But again, Jesus is insistent that the relationship between a vine and branch is “in” and not simply “on”.  And honestly, when we go down to the cellular level, it helps me understand.

If you want to sever a branch from a vine, where do you make the cut?  Probably as close to the connection point as possible, right?  But how do determine that you have truly separated one from the other?  That you did not take any of the vine’s cells with the branch, or leave any of the branch’s cells with the vine?  You can’t!  You can’t see the technical end of the vine and the beginning of the branch.  The cells are intertwined and stacked on one another.  They are surrounded by one another.  The branch is truly in the vine.  And the vine is in the branch.

(Jesus says) “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves.” –John 14:11

Just as we are to remain in Jesus, and He in us, He is in the Father, and the Father is in Him.  We do not have the ability to see where one ends and the other begins.  And as we are growing in Jesus, we should allow Him to infiltrate all portions of our lives so that there is no easy way to separate us.

You will bear much fruit.

Will.  Not might.  Much.  Not some.  But why is Jesus so confident in His statement that we will bear much fruit if we remain in Him (as He is in us!)?  I’m not that confident in my abilities! 

A branch produces fruit, not because of itself, but because of the nature of the vine it grows from.  The strength of a branch is meaningless, if it is not growing from a healthy and fruitful vine.  The branch bears the fruit that the vine comes from; not that the branch comes from.  The branch came from the vine, the vine is what came from the seed.

Jesus is confident in His nature in us.  He is confident that if the connection remains strong and healthy, we WILL bear MUCH fruit!  Because of who He is in us, not who we are.

Apart from me you can do nothing.

In verse 4 we recognized that a branch needs to go through the vine in order to access the benefits of the roots.  The vine has the roots; the branches do not.  However, there is another key difference between a vine and a branch: a vine can grow a new branch, but a branch cannot grow a new vine.  If you separate the branch from the vine, it will stop growing.  But the vine will continue to grow new branches. 

When we separate ourselves from Jesus, we will also stop growing.  Apart from Him we can do nothing.  Now, obviously we are not actual branches, and Jesus is not a literal vine.  So our bodies remain alive and active, even when we do not follow Jesus.  We do stuff.  However, the “nothing” that Jesus is referring to is related to God’s glory.  Apart from Jesus, you will not be growing and increasing God’s glory. 

“Everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” –Isaiah 43:7

 “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” -1 Corinthians 10:31

We were created for God’s glory.  We have been commanded to glorify God with our lives.  And if we are apart from Jesus, we are not living up to that.  We can work and work and try and try, but nothing we do will be to God’s glory if our relationship to Jesus is severed. 

“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” –John 15:5


Jesus is master over us; we are less important than He is!  We grow from Him, but He does not need us to grow.  Yet, He desires to be in us.  The fruit He helps us grow glorifies God, and He knows that when we are separated from Him, we are doing nothing for God’s glory.  We should learn to remain with Him in our daily Christian walk.  Like hands intertwined, it should be difficult to separate us from Him.  We should cling to Him as He clings to us.

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