I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
Few passages move me more than this one. In a day and age when we strive to succeed Jesus calls us back to a humbling fact: We are totally dependent on Him.
Note two "fruit-bearing" points.
First, fruit comes from the nourishment of its source. Jesus was quick to establish this principle when He said that He is the vine and we are the branches. The simple illustration affirms that He is the source that bears fruit.
I'm reminded of Dr. Howard Hendricks's stirring story. Prof had been on a long road trip. When he returned home one of his children wanted him to see how much she had grown while he was away. After lovingly affirming that she had grown one-tenth of a millimeter, the child asked "Daddy, why do big people stop growing?"
While her question dealt with the physical realm, it's worth our time to reflect on the spiritual one. Why do we stop growing spiritually? Simply stated, growth ends when the branch is not deeply rooted in the vine. Growth comes from the source—Jesus Christ.
Second, the bounty of fruit depends on the relationship of the branch to the vine. While we can rest assured that the vine will never cease to be strong, it is possible for the branch to become ineffective and unproductive. When this occurs, the branch is no longer an active part of the vine.
Francis J. Moloney stated it well, "Union with Jesus with its consequent fruitfulness is not a matter of enjoying the oneness that exists between the disciple and the master; it also consists of doing something, and without Jesus this is impossible. To bear fruit means to do something."
With that in mind, pause long enough to ask: Do I see fruit from my life? If so, God the gardener gets the glory. As you enjoy the harvest, shout for joy. Praise Him for letting you be a part of His great plan. Never forget that we are tools used for His service. He is the reason we are participants in the process.
That is why He reminds us, "Apart from me you can do nothing."