“I am the vine you are the branches” John 15:5 (NIV)
It must be 50 years since I saw that elderly and frail looking man. We sang in the same church choir and that is how I met him. He was very kind to me considering our significant age difference. However I did not like shaking his hand as is the custom in churches. When he took hold of your hand you would wince in pain because of his iron grip.
This man had spent his entire working career as a gardener in vineyards. He was accustomed to taking a set of pruning shears in his right hand and cutting off the branches of the vines in the vineyard. Through so many years of working with his hands he had developed a remarkably powerful grip that he did not even realize he had.
As Jesus seeks to reassure the disciples about His imminent departure from them, He speaks to them in a way they would easily understand. All over the country there were vineyards to be seen. Everyone knew how the vines were managed for maximum growth and production of the precious grape harvest.
Jesus called Himself the true vine and said the disciples were the branches. He seeks to illustrate how vital and real their connection with Him will be in the future. They will be as connected to Him as the branches that grow on the vine.
Nothing could be more connected than that. This union with Jesus was a vital one by which Jesus would supply all they needed to grow and be productive just as branches are productive that grow on the vine.
The thought that He would not be visibly with them did not mean that He would not be with them. They would be intimately connected always just as branches are to the vine. Jesus would always supply what was needed for His disciples. He would sustain them always.
He goes on to tell them they have a responsibility to remain, stay, or abide in Him. His followers are accountable for their actions and need to keep themselves in the teaching He had given them in order to grow in the proper manner.
There is a two sided coin here. Jesus would create this life giving link to the disciples and they in turn must draw from Jesus all they need to be content and useful in their generation. Jesus assumes that those who walk with Him will be people who are a benefit to the society in which they live. As Jesus feeds and nourishes them so, in turn, they would do the same to those around them.
Can you say that you have a living link to Jesus that is as real as the link between a vine and its branches? If you do have this connection, then use it for all it is worth. Draw your comfort and encouragement from Jesus Himself and rise above the difficulties that face you.
If you do not have this union with Jesus come to Him today and acknowledge your need of Him and He will graft you into the one true Vine, even Himself.