Lucy Blog

Meditating Verse by Verse: John 15:6

“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” –John 15:6

If you do not remain in me.

Thus far in the chapter, Jesus has been telling us to remain in Him so that we will bear fruit.  However, now He shifts focus to the consequences of not remaining in Him.  Which implies that it is possible to not remain in Him.  But it strikes me that Jesus doesn’t mention His status in this verse.  In previous verses He said, “Remain in me, as I also remain in you” and “If you remain in me and I in you”.  But this time He only mentions our part of the equation.  Does this mean that He can remain in us, even if we do not remain in Him?

You are like a branch that is thrown away.

Like.  Like a branch.  In verse 5 Jesus told us that we ARE the branches.  But in this verse He is just offering a comparison to what we remind Him of when we disconnect from Him. 

There is such grace and kindness in this!  No condemnation!  He is not declaring an identity of death over us, but rather reminding us that He is the only source of life.  We aren’t thrown away, we are just acting like a branch that is thrown away.

And withers.

Wither isn’t a word that I use very often.  So it stands out.  Hearing it reminds me of another time I hear the word “wither”: the story of “Jesus Heals on the Sabbath”, also known as “The Man with the Withered Hand”.  The Greek words used in John 15:6, and in Mark 3:3 come from the same root word.  We can take encouragement from the fact that Jesus is fully capable of overcoming and reviving the “withered” parts of us. 

He healed the man’s withered hand and made it useful.  He is also able to revive us if we allow ourselves to become disconnected from Him.  We can have hope that Jesus is willing and able to save us, if we will turn back to Him.  “Withers” is not a point of no return when it comes to Jesus. 

Such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.

Remember, God is a good gardener.  He is not going to allow dead things to fill up His garden and make it ugly.  Instead, He transforms what is dead into something useful: fire.  Fire provides a person with heat, the opportunity to cook, and the opportunity to purify things.  Fire has value, and it needs fuel.

Disconnected from Jesus, there is still a use for you.  You aren’t going to like it very much, though.  God will use our lives for His purposes, even if we decide to be disconnected from Him.  He is not a wasteful God, and He redeems everything. 

“If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” –John 15:6

Conclusion:

The tone that Jesus uses in this verse is more of a warning, rather than a threat.  It is a gentle reminder of the consequences of rejecting Him as the Vine, not a declaration of our depravity.  And ultimately, God will use us for His glory.  Would we rather be full of life and bearing fruit, or fuel for the fire? 

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” –John 3:17

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