4 You must remain in Me, and I will in you. Just as the branch cannot produce fruit from within itself if it does not remain in the vine, neither can you if you do not remain in Me.
5 I am the Vine you are the branches. The person remaining in Me and I in him will produce a lot of fruit, because apart from Me you can do nothing.
Israel was the nation that God had chosen to be His own people. He had given them His Law for them to obey and so receive His blessing. He had chosen them to be a light to the Gentiles, showing the nations the greatness of God. He had chosen them to be His vine that would produce His fruit in their personal life and their life as a nation.
However, as we have seen Israel was a nation that refused to remain in relationship with God. Instead they were a nation that again and again went looking for other gods that are no gods at all.
It is as we understand something of the history of Israel’s unfaithfulness that we see the real importance of the words of Jesus: “You must remain in Me”.
Israel had not remained in relationship with God. Even the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law had failed to remain in relationship with God, which is why Jesus described them as hypocrites.
Israel had become like an unfaithful wife. The prophet Hosea was told by God to use this illustration in his own marriage:
When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, He said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods” – Hosea 1.2 (NLT).
Jesus was telling the disciples that they must be different, they must remain in Him. The same is true for each one of us, we must remain in Jesus. There will always be the temptation to run after other gods: the fashions of this world; the customs of our culture; the traditions of the church; the pleasures of amusements; and so on. None of us are immune from temptation and the lure that they bring.
Therefore, the words of Jesus are as necessary for us as they were for the disciples: We must remain in Him.
We do this through reading His word and devoting ourselves to it, because His words are the words of eternal life. We remain in Him through prayer and fellowship with the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus has poured out upon us.