John 15:5 (ESV) … “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
This is the seventh and last of the “I AM” statements of Christ recorded in the Gospel of John. However, Jesus did not stop with this image, but went on to use the picture of “the friend.”
These two pictures of the believer—branches and friends—reveal both our privileges and our responsibilities. As branches, we have the privilege of sharing His life, and the responsibility of abiding. As friends, we have the privilege of knowing His will, and the responsibility of obeying.
Jesus says that abiding in him involves the belief that “apart from me you can do nothing” (v. 5b). Actually, there are many things we can do without Christ. We can earn a living, raise a family, and practice generosity. It is even possible to pastor a church without abiding. It is possible to counsel people without abiding. So, what does Christ mean? He means that we cannot bear spiritual fruit without him. We can tie fruit onto our lives like ornaments on a Christmas tree, but the real fruit of his character comes from the vine itself. We can do nothing without him! We cannot be loving or patient or faithful or holy. That is why God does not shield us from the assaults of life but rather exposes us to them, so we will learn to hold him fast.