“Apart from Me you can do nothing.” Jesus is talking to His disciples right before He would usher in the new covenant. He was speaking to His chosen ones who would soon be living life without His physical presence….who would soon be carrying His message of redemption, love and grace to all the Earth. He was preparing them for the work of the Kingdom that was about to be pushed to a new level. Jesus’s “How-To Manual” began like this:
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing.” John 15:5 (MSG)
Jesus gave His disciples their plan for living life and marching orders for service by announcing to them their utter helplessness apart from Him. He didn’t start with a pep rally, explaining how hard they would have to work, but that it would all be worth it in the end. He didn’t try to motivate them by saying “I know you can do this, persevere!” He didn’t tell them all the things they would have to give up as His followers. He didn’t teach them the different ways to share the gospel, how to heal the sick, how to cast out demons. He taught no methods, no rules, no 10 steps, no strategies for getting people saved or doing the work of the Kingdom. He said in effect “don’t try to live this life without staying deeply connected to Me, or the fruit of your labors will be meaningless.”
He was saying, to paraphrase, “I love you with an everlasting love, now live in that love, stay joined with Me, stay joined to My love…. know Me, and you will have success.”
Surely Jesus wasn’t saying we couldn’t walk, talk, or work apart from Him. Most of the world is able to do these things without giving Him a second thought, including atheists. They are producing something, aren’t they? Jesus was saying that nothing of any eternal value would be produced through self-effort.
Yet the Church is filled with believers operating in their own strength, working for an approval from God which they already possess in Christ; striving for an approval from man, which they don’t need.
Lord, show us our deep need for You and Your love in every area of life. Reveal to us that we are already approved by You because of what Jesus already did. Show us our inability, that we may rest in You and receive Your ability. Demonstrate to us and through us the abundant life that comes from knowing You as Everything.