There’s an apple tree growing in a vacant lot next to my house. We discovered it a few years ago when it had a good summer, by which I mean it dropped crab apples all over the place, enough that it spilled over into our yard. It was hidden behind a wall of ragweed and brambles, but it was definitely there. At the time, I marveled at the fact that it was still producing fruit. After all, no one was taking care of it. The lot it stands in is technically owned by the county, and they only really care for a third of it.
Except the more I think about it, the less amazed I am. That’s what apple trees do. They produce apples. So long as they’re getting enough water, sunlight, and nutrients from the soil, they can’t help themselves. They’re going to keep making fruit until one (or all) of those factors are taken away or the tree itself gets chopped down.
But suppose for a moment that I went out to that lot, fought my way past the brambles and ragweed, and chopped off a branch from that tree, then brought it back inside my house in the hopes that I’d be able to have apples whenever I wanted them. I set the branch on my kitchen counter and I wait for those wonderful apples to start growing.
I’d be in for a long wait, wouldn’t I? A branch that’s been separated from the tree just dies. It can’t produce fruit. It can’t do much of anything.
Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.
In this, we see a call for us to remain attached to Jesus. He points out that the power for our lives as Christians comes, not from inside us, but from Him. So long as we remain a part of the True Vine, namely Christ Himself, we will continue to produce good fruit in keeping with our faith. Without Him, we can’t do it. But so long as we remain in the vine, as branches that find their sustenance in Him, we will continue to produce the good fruit that our Heavenly Father desires.
That’s what branches do. They produce fruit. May we do just that. May we remain attached. May our lives overflow with good fruit.