The name of this ministry ThrivingBranch, comes from the discourse that Jesus makes in John chapter 15, about Him being the Vine and us being the branches. We have done studies in this discourse before. Today however, we are going to focus in on one specific area of what Jesus said – one specific point which often gets overlooked; that without Him we can do nothing.
I emphasize that last part, because it is actually very important to our understanding and perspective of our relationship with Christ, and it’s also a point that is devastating to our own human pride.
You see, we tend to not really believe that Jesus meant what He said… that without Him we truly cannot do anything. Surely, He was exaggerating a little bit, right? Of-course He didn’t mean that we can’t do a single thing without Him, did He?
Indeed He did. And this is what we will be taking a look at today in this study. And by seeing this, we will be able to truly embrace our relationship with Christ, and understand the necessity for Him and everything that He provides to us.
Let’s begin by taking a look at the verse itself in John 15:5:
“I am the vine, you are the branches: He that stays in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.”
And what we see here is Jesus drawing an analogy between His relationship with us, and the relationship between a vine and its branches. It’s a very apt analogy because a branch that is separated from the vine loses its very source of life. It looses all of the nutrients that the vine delivers to it, and the branch eventually withers and dies – failing to produce any fruit in the process.
Likewise, we as the spiritual branches connected to the spiritual vine of Jesus Christ cannot ever survive when we are separated from Him and His spiritual nutrients which He gives to us – and certainty not produce any spiritual fruit either.
Jesus says in the verse, He that lives in me, and I in Him, brings much fruit. This is precisely because the only way to truly produce fruit is to have it produced in you by His Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23).
Then we have the last part of the verse, where we are going to camp for a while; in which Jesus says that without me you can do nothing. And as I mentioned, the big sticking-point for many people is that last word: nothing.
Many of us simply do not stop to consider the implications of that statement; we just don’t see how it could honestly be true. I mean, surely there are some things that we can do without Jesus… the every day things, the little things or the small things, right?
Well, let’s examine that theory a bit closer. Take a look at Psalms 139:13-16:
“For you have possessed my reins: you have covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise you; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are your works; and that my soul knows right well.
My substance was not hid from you, when I was made in secret, and curiously worked in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes did see my substance, yet being imperfect; and in your book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them.”
What we can see here is that God has fashioned and formed every part of us. And everything that we have comes from Him. Granted, but does this mean that we cannot do anything without Him? Let’s dig a bit deeper. Because God is not only the author of life, but He is also the sustainer of life. Consider Colossians 1:16-17:
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
He is the one who sustains you. Even your very life. The air you breath and the beat of your heart. He is the one who causes your body, organs and even your cells to continue to exist and function properly. And He is the one who gives your brain the energy of life.
Yet it goes even deeper than this. Many times, even the things that we think are good and right, end-up being less-so, upon close examination.
I’ll speak for myself that in times past, if I were to be completely honest, the things which I would do that most people would consider good, were done with impure motives at their core. Before the Grace of Christ truly penetrated my being, I would still do “good things” in my own estimation – but they were not truly good. They counted for nothing because God knows the root, He perceives the thoughts and the intents of the heart.
For example, I would pray for someone – and to anyone listening it would sounds really good, but my motives were selfish. I would pray for a friend, but I needed the friend for something; do you see? The motive for the prayer was selfish.
Even in something as personal as worship, and even just plain talking to God, I began to see that my words and my thoughts were still laced with ulterior motives and traces of self-interest.
And the more that I meditated on it, and Christ gave me wisdom – I came to realize the incredible wisdom of what Jesus said in John 15:5 that we read earlier today… without Him, we truly can do absolutely nothing. Even our prayer, and words and worship require His power to be truly genuine. Only His Spirit can truly “speak” in the most divine way.
I share all of this with you not in a judgmental or condemning way. My purpose is not to point any fingers – if anything it would be pointed squarely at me. Rather my intent is to fully uncover the truth of just how vast the Grace of God truly is… that we truly have zero power to do even the most basic of things apart from Christ. There is no efficacy in any work of ourselves – be it physical, mental or spiritual. We need Him for everything. And it is because of His Grace and His mercy that He continues to provide for all people day after day, even giving grace to those who have not chosen to believe on Him yet. (Matthew 5:45)
This same point, is also precisely why we can never earn any blessings or favor with God either, because again, any work of ourselves (even if we consider it to be a good work) apart from Him, it is still just as evil and just as dead. This is something that we need to truly understand, as it is vital to our understanding of necessity of becoming a new creation in Christ. And this was the true reason why Jesus said the words
Jesus’ words were not meant as a negative judgment, but as a point of focus – showing us where true strength and ability and power comes from: Himself. A branch apart from Him will wither and die – but permanently connected to Him, we have a source of unlimited life. The people of His day were still under the Old Covenant, still focused on themselves and their own works — but Jesus was about to go to the cross; the Covenant was about to change — the focal point was about to shift from being man-centered, to Christ-centered. And so He was letting them know, that if you remain where you are, you will die because there is really no life there. If you stay focused on yourself, that’s a great way to stay dead and lifeless — but if you live in Me, you will be alive, and you will bring forth (carry or bear) much fruit, and notice that it never says that we will produce fruit within our selves, but it specifically states that we bear or carry the fruit. This fruit is produced by the vine, and we simply have the honor of showing it.
So I want to encourage you today, to take the burden of performance off of yourself… even for the seemingly “little things” – the day-to-day things of life that we deal with on autopilot. Because even in those things it is God who empowers you to do them.