“But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers” (Psalm 1:2-3).
For many years, this verse summarized my approach to the Christian life. I wanted to be this tree. I wanted to delight in God’s law. I wanted to be fruitful. I wanted to prosper. Then I began to understand all that Christ provided for us and to us in the New Covenant. I soon began to realize my “being a tree” days were over.
The tree analogy with its meditation, its law, and its prosperity promise was an Old Covenant picture. It was behavior focused and consequence based. Under God’s new arrangement, ushered in by Jesus’ death and resurrection, you and I are no longer free-standing trees. So what are we?
“I [Jesus] am the true vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). We are no longer trees. We are branches! And the difference is huge.
As a tree, your source of life is in the world around you. You tap into the rain, into the sunlight, into the soil. The result is you standing on your own, built on the nutrients you gather. You are all alone, standing tall along streams of water.
But as a branch, your life is now totally and completely dependent on the vine. There is literally no life for a branch outside of its connection to the vine. And the vine you are securely attached to is the True Vine; Jesus Christ. No more growing based on your self-effort, how well you are keeping His law. He is now your complete sufficiency.
And the proof of this all-sufficient Vine literally feeding His life into you is the last line in our verse, “For apart from Me you can do nothing.” Everything we do, everything we are really, is dependent on our union with the Vine. Jesus did not say that apart from Him we would do things poorly or not very well or struggle for success. He said, “We can do NOTHING”!
This branch-to-vine connection with Jesus is not an option that comes and goes. It is who we are. Abiding in Him is not an “if” statement. It is a fact. You ARE “abiding in Him and He in you” because this is what Christ accomplished at the cross. He made you a branch. You did not attach yourself. You cannot unattach yourself. Based on His work on the cross and your belief in what Christ did for you, He made you a branch. An intimately connected branch, a very child of God.
Finally, the church is a brand new entity under the New Covenant. And the branches and the True Vine are such a beautiful picture of this. We, the church, are the branches; growing together in a beautiful menagerie, all inseparably connected to the Vine. The Vine is your life. Soak it up and the fruit will flow.