November 26, 2023 | Duane Roberts
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“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. . . . 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. 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. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.”—John 15:1–2, 5–9 (NIV)
Have you ever given flowers to a loved one? Maybe you’ve been the recipient of a lovely bouquet. Flowers are truly a wondrous creation. They’re bright, vibrant, fragrant, and delicate examples of God’s creativity and beauty. We use them at weddings and funerals. We give them to one another on anniversaries, birthdays, and holidays—and sometimes on a random day to make someone feel special. We use them to say, “I’m sorry,” “Congratulations,” and “I love you.” They adorn vases, lapels, and gravestones. Flowers are firmly planted into the fabric of life.
The thing about flowers is that in order to give them, they must be cut off from their source—effectively killing them. If you’ve ever had flowers on your desk or at home, you know that eventually the petals will wither and fall off. Why? Because they’re no longer connected to their source, to their vine. They can’t bloom or blossom apart from their vine . . . and the same is true of us!
In John 15:1 (NIV), Jesus says to His disciples, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.” Now, when Jesus uses the word “true” here, it’s not in comparison to any other falsehood. Instead, true (alēthinē) alludes to the real, perfect ideal. It’s the only one, the genuine article, complete with a certificate of authenticity. True emphasizes the genuine and organic connection (authentic unity) between something and its source. And in this case, what makes Jesus the true vine is His connection to the vineyard keeper, God the Father.
As He continues, Jesus tells His disciples, “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 you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4–5 NIV). What a sobering reminder of what happens when we “let [our] roots grow down into him, and let [our] lives be built on him” (Colossians 2:7 NLT). When we live out of the tree of life (Jesus is life and the source of all life: John 1:1–4; Colossians 1:15–17) and not the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, when we remain in Him, we’re able to live fruitful (John 15:5), free (Romans 8:1–2; Galatians 5:1), content (Philippians 4:11–13), and full (John 10:9–10) lives. And here’s the best part: When we remain in Him, when we live connected to the Vine that is Christ, there’s nothing that can separate us! Nothing can cut us off from Him when we abide in Him. As Paul says, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38–39 NIV).
Pause: Read John 15:1–8 and Romans 8:28–39.
Practice: Spend time reflecting on what it looks like to live rooted and built up in Him, connected to the Vine, abiding in His love.
Pray: Father, I pray that in everything I would abide in Your Son. I pray I would not seek to accomplish anything apart from Jesus, that I’d remain daily in His love, walk in ever-increasing fellowship with Him, and I’d be pruned and transformed, bearing good fruit, and experience the fullness of Your love and grace. May I never rely on myself, Lord. May I always be rooted and built up in You. Amen.
Danny Saavedra is a licensed minister who has served on staff at Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.