The “this” in the verse is the story of the vine and the branches. Jesus had just told his disciples that he is the true vine and we are the branches. He told them that if we remain in him we will bear much fruit but apart from him we can do nothing, nada, zilch. He used the word remain eleven times (NIV) in these few paragraphs.
Okay…so remaining is important…so how do I do that? How do I remain in him?
At first I thought maybe it means to stay close. When I go into our kitchen my little pug Lucy stays so close that I have to be careful not to step on her. If I move, even an inch, she moves. I am the source of all that she wants and needs. I feed her, love her, bathe her, make sure she is flealess and keep her safe. That is one kind of remaining — staying close.
Then I thought about my son when he was about eighteen months old and how when we were in a crowd he either wanted me to hold his hand or carry him. He needed to be constantly touching me. If I let go, for even a second, he would scream. That is another kind of remaining —contant contact.
Finally, I realized the remaining that Jesus is talking about is way more than either of the above. It is more like being plugged into a power outlet. I have a great vacuum but if I run it around my house without plugging it in it does nothing, nada, zilch, to clean my floor.
The remaining that Jesus is talking about means actually being a part of. The vine and the branch share a lifeblood that flows through both of them and that lifeblood produces beautiful fruit and complete joy.
Now if I can just figure out how to stay plugged in……