“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. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:5-8
Recognition of the source of power is what Jesus wants from us. There is nothing that a follower of Christ can do apart from God and His power.
Jesus gives two options. We either remain in Him, or we do not. He lays out the consequences of one and the benefits of the other.
The first thing he puts out there is the negative. “If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers”. If you are relying on your actions and deeds for salvation and wisdom, though you may believe it is a worthwhile endeavor, it is actually worthless. We sometimes fall into the trap of thinking and have the attitude that we are good Christians because we go to church, tithe, teach a Sunday school class, volunteer, and do a myriad of other things that are good.
There is nothing wrong with those acts in and of themselves. It is the attitude with which we do them that is the problem. A self-aggrandizing spirit can develop in us such that we pat ourselves on the back saying to ourselves “you done good”.
The problem with that attitude is that it presupposes that the source of the good things done is the desire of your heart and so you tend to honor yourself believing that your actions are deserving of some type of reward. This attitude internally and psychologically attributes the actions to the self. Jesus tells us what this attitude results in when he says, “such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” This means that the actions and attitude are entirely worthless in the eyes of Jesus and of God.
The flip side of the equation is that of remaining in Christ. This means a 100% reliance on Jesus attributing all things to him. Any act that you do is not of your own choice or doing but it is Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit that dwells within you that creates the desire to do what is right and honorable toward God. Jesus says that “apart from me you can do nothing”. Nothing you do, however good or honorable, is of your doing. It is Jesus working through you that does these things.
Jesus gives us a promise that by having this attitude and thought pattern we have an amazing power; the power of answered prayer. “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” The conditional “if” is ever-present noting that receiving what we ask for is conditional upon remaining in Christ and having His words remain in us. You get that through communion with Christ on a deep and intimate level. That intimacy comes from being immersed in His words, relying on Jesus for all of your decisions, thoughts and actions.
There is a reason for having this attitude and it is based on the primary desire of God and the purpose for which we exist, God’s glory. Jesus says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” The Glory of God is the purpose of all acts, thoughts, attitudes, and behavior that a follower of Christ is to have as his sole reason for existing. By acknowledging the purpose for the actions, glory to God, and recognizing that the action is sourced in Christ, we begin to live out our purpose. It is this recognition of the source that produces a healthy attitude of dependence on Christ and not on our own ability and this is what proves your position in Christ. It is the disciple that is dependent on the teacher and not the other way around.