There are so many verses in the Bible that speak to me, some for specific situations in my life, and some that are forever and always treasured. And, I have a few of those really treasured verses that my mind continues to return to, sometimes every day. These verses lift me, inspire me, and hopefully guide my everyday living. Today, I want to share one of those verses: “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.” (John 15:5, ESV) These words, spoke by our dear beloved savior, Jesus, seem to be brought to my mind frequently. So, why did Jesus speak about being a vine? Jesus introduces this section of chapter 5 with the following statement: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. (John 15:1, ESV). So what’s with this vine statement in the first place, I mean, why didn’t Jesus just simply make the statement without using a metaphor?
So, if you know what a metaphor is you know that speakers and writers use metaphors to help people to understand a concept. These metaphors give you strong visuals in your mind. And those visuals help you retain a concept and those images in your mind. Like music, I believe that metaphors involve both the right and left side of our brains and thus become ingrained. Now Jesus came not for the elite, but Jesus came for every one, and that meant that he came for the common man. And, back in those days, the common man did not read or write, they learned everything from those who taught in the temple and from the usage of traditions which were passed down in stories. So, using metaphors was the way to best teach those Israelites about the concept of God.
So, just what does this verse that is so central to my life mean? Well back in the Old Testament the usage of the vine clearly represented Israel to these people, therefore it is something that they would easily understand and grasp. And, through the use of this imagery, Jesus takes that concept further when he tells us that the vine is himself, and God is the vine dresser. The grapes (us) cannot grow without the vine, and the vine cannot grow without the vine caretaker. We, therefore, we cannot grow unless we are attached to the vine of Jesus. Thus he made the statement “for apart from me you can do nothing.” And Jesus guides us through the Holy Spirit.
It is wonderful that each of us believers receive the Holy Spirit within us. And, unlike in the Old Testament days, the Holy Spirit stays with us. We don’t have to see God’s Holy Spirit work with us for a short time to accomplish a goal and then depart us; we have the Holy Spirit all the time to guide us.
The question was asked of me and others in my Bible study: What do you need today? What are you asking God to make manifest in your life through the power of His Spirit? Well there’s only one thing that I truly need: I need to remain attached to the vine, I need to always remember that God’s Holy Spirit dwells within me, I need to remember that I don’t have to look anywhere else but to God for truth and understanding. I need to remain in the Word and in prayer. I need only to rely on my Abba Father.