15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 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. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (John 15:1-11)
Jesus describes himself as a vine, he says we are the branches. It is a metaphor he uses to describe our relationship with him. The branches of the vine have to remain in the vine if they are to be alive and bear fruit. Christianity isn’t an individual thing. It isn’t about following some set of moral rules by yourself. To be a good Christian one needs to remain in Christ that he can abide in us. If we are separated from him we don’t bear any fruit. If we remain in him we bear fruit. We may be pruned back here and there that we bear more fruit, but the fruit we bear is borne because of our trust in him.
How do we remain in him? The early church never read this passage with any other thought than Holy Communion. It is there in communion that we find our connection with him. This is why church is so important. It isn’t just about keeping the third commandment. It is about living in Jesus, and Jesus living in us. It is about having our sins forgiven, it is about us being part of the vine, and being pruned that the sinful dead wood would not infect the rest of us, and we could be fed with his love. The love he poured out for us from the cross.