Abide in me, and I in you.
As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself,
unless it abides in the vine,
neither can you,
unless you abide in me.
I am the vine;
you are the branches.
Whoever abides in me
and I in him,
he it is that bears much fruit,
for apart from me you can do nothing.
Who was Jesus’ audience? The disciples. In a sense, these were His last words to the disciples before He went to the Cross. It was in the Upper Room. After Jesus washed their feet and shared the Lord’s Supper with all of them, even Judas. By now, Judas was gone.
It’s not like this was new information to them, but probably more of a concise summary of the most important things He wanted them to remember from all He had taught over the last 3 years.
The general tenor of His talk here is on the importance of relationship over performance. That was downright revolutionary! It was one more reason why the Pharisees and other religious leaders hated Him so much.
No, they weren’t there that night, but they had heard most of this teaching along the way and even in the parables, they got what was being taught. They hated it! Their lives and hope for the future were in their religious performance. They didn’t want to hear this talk about having a relationship with Jesus! Then they would have to admit that their good works weren’t good enough. Who would want to do that?
Relationships are way too messy and inconvenient!
They had the number of steps allowed on the Sabbath counted out…to such an extreme that if a person like the man in the story of the good Samaritan, was lying on the side of the road, they wouldn’t dream of helping him. Why? They had all kinds of reasons not to help him!
- They would use up their steps getting him help and might not be able to go to Temple.
- They would become ceremonially unclean and wouldn’t be able to function in daily life, much less go to Temple, particularly if the person turned out to be dead.
- They found it easier to keep a set of rules than to relate to a holy GOD whose standards were really higher than their rules they set because it dealt with issues of motives and thoughtlife.
- They didn’t want to deal with an authority higher than themselves. They had built a god in their own image, after their likeness. They could keep the rules he made and were content to do so. Jesus, who claimed to be represented the GOD they said they believed in…came with a message that destroyed all the things they were trusting in. Of course they hated Him.
Jesus was calling for a relationship with Him as the Vine. He wanted intimate contact such as that of a branch connected deeply and intimately to a vine. It doesn’t happen by keeping rules. It happens when anything we do must be energized by Christ and our love for Him.
When we realize that our goodness comes from Christ,
we will find joy in what we do for Him
It happens when someone is aware that they can’t do anything good on their own. That Christ is the only One who can meet the requirements for their salvation because not a one of us can meet His perfect standard. The only way we could ever be able to communicate with GOD was because Jesus lived the perfect life required. He paid for ALL our sin on the cross…all of it!
Then, in a sense, when we become His child, we recognize we can’t do life, even the Christian life, apart from Him. We give Him our record book of all the sin of our entire life: past, present and future which He died to pay for and free us from. And He hands us His perfect record book. It is a perfect life lived on earth for 33 years. He was perfect in thought, word and deed. Being “in Christ” means that my record before GOD is now that perfect record!
It is an uneven exchange. He dresses me in His righteousness. I give Him all my sin. Talk about unfair!
That’s why the whole process is awesomely, amazing! I am now a member of the family of GOD. I can now be a branch connected to the Vine and have a relationship with GOD, the same GOD I couldn’t even approach before because of His holiness.
That’s why devotions isn’t something to check off my to do list. It is a time to visit with Him, to share my neediness with Him. To get away from the mundane and get His perspective, from His Word and in prayer, on the world around me and on the people that I both love and hate.
What is your attitude toward your devotional time?
How do you need to change…if at all?