The Weekly Word - A Devotion for the Week of September 28
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me, you can do nothing." (John 15:4-5)
It’s apple season here in the Midwest – the time of year when orchards are teeming with visitors filling baskets and bags full of ripe fruit. The choicest apples are the ones that have been allowed to ripen to their full sweetness on the tree. Unlike those that have prematurely fallen or been knocked to the ground, the apples still clinging to the branches have been properly nourished, receiving the water, sunlight and nutrients that have allowed them to grow to their fullest potential.
This metaphor of the vine and the branches that we read about in the Gospel of John goes on for eight verses, all of which reiterate the same main point. Like the ripened apples clinging fast to the tree, we are to stay connected to God – for without that connection, we cannot flourish into who God created us to be.
One reason for the repetition in these verses comes from the fact that the Bible originated as an oral tradition; these stories were repeated and passed on through generations before they were eventually written down. Repetition helped the storytellers memorize the message and enabled the listeners to remember it.
Beyond that, however, the repetition we hear in these verses serves a deeper purpose. The fact is, despite our best intentions, we are inclined to cut ourselves off from God. We wander from His ways. And like the apples released too soon from the safety of the tree, when we find ourselves disconnected from God, we are unable to grow to our fullest potential.
We need to hear this call to cling to God repeated again and again so that it will sink deep into our hearts, minds and souls – a reminder that He created us to be in relationship with Him. God is our strength and our sustenance. He is our lifeline, and when we stay close to Him, His life flows through each one of us.
Gracious God, I admit that I have strayed from You. I have wandered from Your Ways. Graft me onto You so that, in relationship with You, I may produce good fruit in Your name. Amen.