This is the view from my back yard.
You are not looking at a vibrant, live tree here. It's actually a dead redwood tree that has been overgrown with an ivy vine. The tree it's self is dead, but the owner down the hill can't see that the tree is dead because it looks so green to her. She's been fooled.
I have looked at that vine growing up the tree for a couple of years now, and have thought,....there's an analogy in that "fake" tree. Today's reading made me think it was a good time to use the analogy! I know, Jesus uses a lot of analogies to drive his points home, I don't really need to add another one! However, the tree in my backyard is such a good visual!
"Remain in me, and I in you." (15:4) Jesus is a living tree where the roots provide nutrients for the whole tree. (So, let's make the dead tree in my backyard an alive tree for the sake of my analogy.) 😜
Even though many people come into my back yard and think the tree is fine, at second take they see the reality. The vine is not part of the tree. It has not been grafted in, sharing the same source for it's food. It is just a vine hanging on the tree. It's not part of the tree and never can be. In the same way, some people can "look" like Christians, but in reality they are just hanging on the tree, posing like they are part of God's family, fooling some of those around them. They may even be fooling themselves because of their ability to fool others. Yet, the fact is, they don't get the "nutrients" they need from God. Paul uses a similar analogy with the tree and the branches in Romans 11. He clearly states, "You do not support the root, but the root supports you." (11:18)
Jesus's point in our reading today is, we need to get our nutrients and support from the root (Jesus), because without being an indwelling part of the tree, we "can do nothing without him" (15:5). My analogy points out that some may think they are doing just that, but in reality they are acting like the vine in my backyard. They are posing, looking pretty good to themselves and others......but.......God knows those who are really a part of the tree.
He wants to be "glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my (His) disciples." (15:8) You can't just hang on the tree, you gotta be part of the tree in order to glorify God.