One of the ornamental trees we planted a few years back had a large portion broken away by the wind. Driving past with the mower on another occasion caught a branch and pulled it away further from the main part of the tree. Now, that section of the tree is dead, the leaves brown, the branches brittle.
Without being connected to the root system of the tree those branches could not survive.
In John’s version of the Last Supper Jesus presents the disciples with a clear image of who he is and how these devoted followers relate to him. To what does Jesus compare himself? To what does he compare the disciples? How does a believer bear fruit? What happens if a person is not rooted in Jesus?
Just as the vine is strong and a provider of the nourishment the branches require, Jesus is the base of our strength. He provides spiritual food for our souls, spiritual energy to do what is right and holy. The branches of a plant are meant to grow out from the main vine, reaching to distant places, creating good things on their own. Yet they maintain that connection to the vine.
We too are called to reach out into the world and bring forth good things, acts of kindness and love and mercy. But our actions are not done on our own nor are they based in our own motivation and understanding. We must remain connected to Jesus, keeping our souls and minds rooted in Christ’s goodness.
This simple image creates a clear picture for those who follow Christ. He is the vine and all who obey his teachings and emulate his life are like the branches. If we can remain connected to Jesus, keep him as a centerpiece to who we are and what we do, we can bear fruit – that is, we can do good things that bring honor to God.
Jesus is the source of that ability to do good and right things. Jesus is the source of strength that can help us weather the difficulties and challenges of life. Living on our own, disconnected from the goodness that is Jesus, we can accomplish nothing. Removing ourselves from this source of strength and spiritual sustenance will leave us as dried up and useless branches, unable to accomplish the good we are called to produce.
Who do you say Jesus is? Is he the vine in your spiritual life which allows you to bear good fruit?
DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you remain rooted in Jesus?