John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
It struck me as I read this morning that the Upper Room Discourse was all about Jesus’ legacy. He knew that He was about to be crucified and buried, and He wanted to do all He could to establish His closest disciples so they could carry on in His absence. In that urgency He almost talks in circles, coming back to the same themes again and again. It gives us insight into Jesus and what He considered important, because you could call it a condensation of all He had tried to teach them for three and a half years. It seems to me His themes were love and fruit and endurance, all empowered by the Holy Spirit. This verse relates most directly to fruit and endurance, but it also hints at love, and is of course impossible without the work of the Spirit. I find I quote the last part of this verse fairly often, either in talking with people or simply to myself. I have certainly found that I can do nothing of any real value apart from Christ! Fruit and legacy are in a sense two words for the same thing. That’s why in verse 16 He talks about “lasting fruit.” Frankly, material things don’t last. It is our investment in people, drawing them into eternal life, that lasts. Only the spiritual is eternal. Materially speaking we like to “leave an inheritance” for our descendants, but material things are ultimately ephemeral, and only the values of love, honesty, and discipleship to our Lord remain. When we manage to pass those on, we have a legacy indeed.
I go through periodic bouts of being concerned about my legacy, so it is in a way comforting to see that Jesus was concerned for His. Whether my name is remembered is ultimately of no importance, but whether people are inspired to walk in fellowship with their Creator is everything. I have long felt that one of the most interesting things about heaven will be discovering what my influence has been over the course of my life. There is literally no way we can understand it all before then. Several years ago I was at the funeral of a close family friend, and the pastor conducting it thanked me for something I had said to him years previous that had made a massive difference in his life and ministry. I frankly didn’t remember even talking to him before! Little things like that are a big comfort to me when I start thinking about my legacy. A missionary friend, now retired and in his late 80s, is currently working on a project that I’m sure he sees as his legacy. It would be nice if that works out, but at the same time I work regularly with someone he nurtured and discipled, and that legacy is strong and secure. My focus needs to be on fellowship with and obedience to my Lord, because if I will do that, I will indeed bear lasting fruit.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Coupled with the message You’ve given me for Sunday, it makes me wonder if my time here is shorter than I think! However, that’s not a matter for any concern whatsoever. As You’ve had me saying for many years, I’m to plan to live to a hundred, at least, but live so that any day is OK. Help me indeed abide in Christ so that I will bear the fruit that You desire, on Your schedule and for Your glory alone. Thank You. Hallelujah!