“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples” (John 15:5-8).
IMHO, this is the most important description of how ministry “works” in the entire Bible.
For years, I was only getting a third of the picture. I focused on the intimacy with God latent in the image, missing the point entirely: This passage describes what intimacy with God produces. But even that misses the grandest truth of all, one that should make your knees tremble along with mine. Do you realize what Jesus is saying here? Do you realize what God is showing us? Cue the drum roll. Orchestral crescendo, please…
This passage describes how the spiritual becomes physical. How truth takes on flesh.
Think about it: Jesus is a spiritual vine. We are spiritual too, connected to him—but we have physical branches. Bodies. Mouths. Hands. Feet.
Ready for the next truth?
Jesus is saying that you and I are the crossover technology between spirit and skin. He’s saying that spiritual life flows into us, and physical life flows out of us. Somehow, in us, a miracle occurs. The word becomes flesh.
This is how Jesus arrived on earth, you’ll remember. Mary “was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). But how did that happen, exactly? Mary wondered the same thing. “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:34,35).
“In you,” God was saying, “The spiritual will become physical. The Word will become flesh. The eternal Son of God will become human.” This still doesn’t drill down into the how, exactly—at least, not enough to satisfy my curiosity. But there it is. When God flows through us, the spiritual becomes physical. It’s what I am. It’s what I do. It’s why God made me the way he made me.
And if that’s true, then it is inconceivable (pardon the pun) to think God has nothing spiritual he wants to become physical through me today. It’s why I’m here, after all. “This is to my Father’s glory, that (I) bear much fruit, showing (myself ) to be (his) disciple.” (John 15:8).
How do revivals happen? How do miracles happen? How do moves of God begin? How do people get saved? The same way everything spiritual becomes physical. By flowing through us. Which means—and this is the real kicker—that we make or break God moments with our sensitivity to God’s Spirit and willingness to let him have his way.
That prayer on your heart during small group? It might open up a floodgate of sharing and life-change. If you pray it out loud like God wants you to. That idea you had about walking a pie next door? It could kick-start a friendship that leads to an entire family getting saved. If you bring the pie next door. That moment where you thought, “Hey, I should call Bob,” could save his life. Or not. And so on. God puts things into your heart, or on your mind… that he wants to become flesh through your actions. My actions.
A lot to think about. Comments?