Jesus makes a remarkable statement to his followers just before he goes to die on the cross. Apart from me you can do nothing (John 15:5). If this was to come from the lips of anyone else, we would take it as extremely egotistical and self-promoting. On what basis is Jesus making such a massive claim? The answer is in the other things he says when he makes that bold claim.
He talks about them being made clean by the word that he has spoken. His unique role as the one who will make the sacrifice that will bring cleansing from the guilt and power and penalty of our wrongdoing means that without his intervention, we are eternally lost. In a real sense, in terms of becoming pleasing to God, we can do nothing without him. Whatever we do to fix up our present and past shortcomings and rebellion will never deal with the problem. We need him to clean us.
But it’s more than that for those followers who will carry on his work in a hostile world. They need his life and empowering to live for him and to bear the fruit that will last. That is why he urges them so strongly to remain in him. Apart from him they will shrivel up and die and never bear the fruit that he appointed them to bring forth. With his life surging through them by his Spirit, they will bear lots of fruit – their own lives transformed as they abide in him and live for him, and the lives of those that he will reach through them.
This is the reality of following Jesus – we are totally dependent on him. That is why our vision as a church – to know Christ, grow in Christ and proclaim Christ, has him in every part of it – apart from him we can do nothing. Let’s keep him central to all that we do individually and together.