“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.”John 15:5 NIV
Jesus used an agricultural example in the extended passage to illustrate the necessity of remaining connected to him. In verses 5-8 Jesus is pictured as a grape vine, and his disciples as the branches connected to the vine. In this illustration Jesus said that a branch that is connected to the vine will be fruitful, but a branch that is not connected will not bear fruit. Notice that he does not say the connected branch should be fruitful, but that it will be fruitful. In this verse the key to fruitfulness as a branch is to stay connected to the vine.
Remaining in Christ
But Jesus is really not too concerned about producing grapes. What he does want is for me to be fruitful as his disciple, and the only way that will happen is if I remain in him. Remaining in Christ is the key, and the analogy here can help us to understand what that means. When you look at a grape vine, can you tell where the vine ends and the branches begin? I grew grapes for several years, and I sometimes had a hard time knowing where one ended and the other began; they just merge into each other. If, like the branches, we remain in Christ, we will draw our nourishment from him, his life will flow through us, and we will become like him.
How do we remain in Christ? Pray continually (1 Thess 5:17), be immersed in the word (Psalm 119), be united with the body of Christ (Eph 4:1-16), fix your eyes on Jesus (Heb 12:1-3), and follow his example (Eph 5:1). And you will bear much fruit.