”I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.”
John 15: 1-4
Jesus did not say, “abide in me or else”. Instead, he says, “Abide in me, as I abide in you.”
This is a promise, that no matter what happens, Jesus will be with us, abiding in us.
Regardless of the circumstances, Jesus will hold onto us, and work through all things in our lives, good or bad to bring about a good end In those experiences, we will be able to look over our shoulder and see how God was with us.
No matter what happens, we have God’s promise in Jesus to work for good for us.
If you recall, Jesus spoke these words just before he went to the cross. The cross became the chief example of God’s commitment to humanity to wrestle life and hope from the very place that appears to be totally empty of life and hope.
The cross where Jesus suffered and died was where God chose to take part in our human pain and suffering, the very place where our disappointments of life seem to end in futility. God chose not to sit back and be removed from the pain of our mortally difficult life in this world. Instead God came in Jesus Christ to be joined to all that our mortality involves – all of the ups and downs, the hopes and disappointments, the weaknesses and faults of our life in this world, even death – so that we would know that God is totally committed to us.
The cross is a testimony to just how much God already loved us and promises to be with us through all things.
Likewise, the resurrection of Jesus is God’s loving promise that no matter how much tragedy or pain and anguish we undergo, these hardships are not the last word. God brings life even out of death.
These words of Jesus are encouraging us to stay close to him, to allow ourselves to be nurtured as repeatedly by God, and as easily as a branch is nourished in a vine. We need to know that for us to live as children of God nothing can take the place of God’s regular nourishment. For we know in our hearts and minds and souls that nothing can take the place of this spiritual nourishment God will provide if we stay open and connected to him. Jesus is offering us an amazing gift in these words. He is showing us how we can have the source of life itself in daily nourishment from God.
We simply must stay connected to God’s source of life in Jesus Christ that never ends.
When I allow my own bus-i-ness of life’s dealings and trials to take up all my time, and don’t welcome God’s constant source of nourishment that God make available to me through prayer, worship, reading God’s Word, meeting with other Christians, I starve for the nourishment God wants to offer me, and my spiritual life begins to wither and die, as the branch on a vine that has lost its constant support of nourishment from the vine to which it is connected. That is why I have to be pruned from time to time in order to realize what I have been missing, and how much I need to stay in conversation and in openness to my relationship with God.
Abiding in Jesus is God’s way of keeping me nourished with the Holy Spirit who gives me the spiritual nourishment I need to grow in God’s love.
- Will you ask yourself, how am I being nourished daily by God through Jesus?
- How are you abiding in Jesus, the vine, to get your spiritual nourishment?
- What are some obvious evidences of your nourishment?
Sue is NLS Spiritual Director, since 2019 and is a retired Lutheran Pastor (ELCA). Active in VdC since 1995, she has served two terms on the Board of the Texas VdC Secretariat, and also on the Texas Gulf Coast VdC Board as Spiritual Director since its start-up in 2017.