“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. (NIV)
Apparently a new school was built in Texas which was state of the art. Especially in regard to its various safety systems. However, shortly after opening, the school was badly damaged by fire. It seems that the state-of-the-art fire sprinkler system had not been properly connected to the local water supply and thus was useless.
Perhaps this is what Jesus is speaking about when calling himself the vine and us as the branches. If we remain connected to him, we will be functioning as we were meant to function. His life will somehow flow through us so we are living his sort of life.
And the implication of his final phrase is that we can’t live that sort of life if we are not connected to him. Of course anyone is capable of doing good things: we are made in God’s image and benefit from what we might call his ‘common grace’. But we can only consistently do his will his way through his empowerment.
We remain connected through the disciplines of prayer, fellowship, Bible reflection, worship and service. All this helps us remain ‘plugged in’ to Jesus. Living for Jesus is challenging enough even with his help. Without his help it becomes an unbearable frustration. His life is to pulsate through our lives as nourishment seeps from the vine to the branches. None of us wants to merely wither on the vine.