“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:7
Wow! What a promise from Jesus!! However, you can’t just take the latter part of this verse the ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you without taking the first part of this verse ~ “if you abide in me, and my words abide in you”! Well I don’t know about you, but it makes me want to dive in and find out what it means to abide in Him? If that means that I can ask Him for anything. That is definitely a hook for the big old selfish side of me! To dive in and see what this one verse means, let’s look at the previous verses.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you, 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. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” John 15:1-7
You see it goes much deeper than just asking for whatever we want. Jesus spoke in terms the disciples would understand. They knew about growing vineyards so they would understand all of the pictures that Jesus was drawing out with His words. I dare say most of us do not have a full understanding of a vineyard and growing grapes. But Jesus still speaks in pretty simplistic terms for us when you break it down. I also read that in ancient Israel there were grapevines everywhere. So there was the idea was that Israel was God’s vine. But Jesus tells his disciples in this passage “I am the true vine”. The legalism that kept people in the rituals of religion in order to stay connected to the church, was broken when Jesus was born and through His earthly ministry and His ultimate death on the cross. Don’t get me wrong I love my church and I love my connection to my church. But my roots are in Jesus not in the church. Also, this lesson came from Jesus as He was preparing to face the cross and it seems He was wanting to prepare His disciples for His physical absence from Him. By saying I am the true vine, He is wanting to draw the picture to them that their connection to the church is not where their roots are. Jesus wants them to remember their connection to Him first! Jesus is our vine, our connection to the Father.
Another picture that the disciples would understand is when He says; “and My Father is the vinedresser”. The disciples would have known what the vinedresser does automatically. The vinedresser tends to the vines. He directs their growth. When He says every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, he is not saying that He will throw us away if we are not bearing fruit, but what He will do is redirect our path. Let me just quote what I read:
“There is an alternative understanding of this passage that bears some consideration. James Montgomery Boice (among others) believes that the ancient Greek verb airo, translated ‘takes away’ is more accurately translated ‘lifts up’. The idea is that the Father lifts up unproductive vines off of the ground (as was common in ancient practices of vineyard care). Those caring for ancient grape vines made sure to lift them up off the ground that they might get more sun and bear fruit better.”
Now I don’t know who James Montgomery Boice is, but I like his explanation! You see when we are not bearing fruit, what the vinedresser does is not cut us off to throw us away, but he redirects us. He “lifts us up”! I picture the vinedresser gently picking a vine up off of the ground and cleaning it off and tying it up to relieve the stress that the branches must feel. You think about it if the branches are on the ground, they have become too heavy to hold up on their own, when the vinedresser ties the branch up, the place that the branch is connected to the vine, is relieved of the stress that might break it. And it becomes stronger! When the Father lifts us up when we feel like we are laying on the ground, He is relieving some of the stress so that our relationship with Jesus (the vine) can become stronger. When we are abiding with Him, when we are connected to the Vine, we are stronger and we can bear fruit! When we are bearing fruit, when we are closely connected to the Vine, then we will have in mind the things that He has in mind. And that my friends is when we get to this thought that what we ask for will be done for us. We will desire good things, we will desire things that mean something to Him! Because we will be so closely connected to the vine we will have kingdom thoughts! Our kingdom thoughts will be for the good of ourselves and the good of those we love!