Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
— John 15:4
Jesus is speaking to his disciples as He prepares them for His sacrifice and departure. The verse applies to those who already apart of Christ's family. The verse is a promise that so long that we maintain a union with Christ, we will bear fruit.
The example Jesus provides is that God is the vine, and we are the branches. We, as gentiles, are grafted onto this vine upon the acceptance of Christ. We must abide in Christ, as a branch on a vine, which is supported by it, grows in it and eventually becomes fruitful. Breaking away from the vine can spell certain disaster - our safety depends on being grafted to that vine. To sustain genuine spiritual life in the world, we must remain intimately connected to Christ - like the branch.
If we do not produce fruit, we are cut-off from God and handed over to our own sinful desires.
Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
— John 15:6-8
In the verse, Jesus is speaking this over His disciples to prepare them for the time ahead. Jesus wants them to abide in Him, not with Him. In Him. The command is not abide with Me, near me or under Me, but In Him. And He wants us to do the same.
The fruit-bearing branch is not only connected to the vine, near it, or under its shadow, it is within the vine and it abides inside of it.
Although Jesus did not go into detail about how He will abide in us, our faithful residence and abidance, will lead to His feelings becoming our own feelings, we will think as He thinks, will as He wills and choose as He chooses. His righteousness will be come our righteousness, His strength our strength. He commands us to come out of ourselves and our own way of thinking, to step into Himself and His way of being.
Christ abides in us, by shaping us into an instrument of His word, understood and believed under His influence where we think, feel, enjoy and choose along with Him.
Christ has formed within us that it is not so much they who live, but Christ who lives within them.
Those who obey God’s commandments remain in fellowship with him, and he with them. And we know he lives in us because the Spirit he gave us lives in us.
— 1 John 3:24
It is our faith that will unite us to our saviour and it is our continued faith which keeps us grafted to the True Vine.
He wants us to have a conscious union with Him on the deepest level. We must come to the realization that we can do nothing - we are dead branches without Him. We too often try to live as our own vine and act as though by our own power, we were to do God's will.
We have failed tremendously and yet Christ still invites us to humble ourselves and be redeemed as a branch.
We must surrender ourselves to Christ for His purposes, as the branch exists for the vine. But, in the same breath, the fullness of Christ is ours also.
Why does Jesus use 'vine' instead of 'tree'? And why does the Gospel of John refer to Jesus as the 'True Vine'?
The grapevine and the vineyard traditionally represented God's people, planted and tended by him in Israel (Psalms 80:8-18; Isaiah 5:1-7; Jeremiah 2:21; 12:10-11; Ezekiel 15:1-5; Hosea 10:1-2). When Jesus used this image, He made an important departure: He declared that He is the true grapevine and that a relationship with God requires attachment to Him. This in turn infuriated the church leaders of the time and is the reason why the Gospel of John refers to Jesus as the True Vine so as to differentiate Him from God's people.
If you have any questions or think I could have taken a better approach, let me know! Feel free to reach out in the comments below or reach out to me via email.