Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. - John 15:5
The corpse flower, called by this name because of its massive size (and smell!) is the rarest, largest and most endangered flower in the entire world. But what is even more unique about this flower is that it steals everything from its host. Though each blossom can be in excess of three feet across, the massive buds cannot support themselves, and have no leaves, stalks or true roots. Instead, they rely entirely upon a separate plant for survival. This plant is more like a vine, and the corpse flower grows out of this vine.
The corpse flower and its host vine have a very intimate relationship. From the start, the flower burrows into the vine’s tissues, growing as thread-like strands in direct contact with the surrounding vine's cells.
The flower is so dependent on the host that they’ve lost the ability to make chlorophyll, a requirement for photosynthesis, and thus defy the very nature of being a plant by being unable to produce food from sunlight.
These parasites feed off their host vines, growing and growing until they finally erupt, dramatically if briefly, into large, rubbery flowers that stink like rotting flesh.
When I first heard about this flower, and how it requires the vine for everything it has, I was reminded of our passage for today’s devotion. It comes from John 15:
1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
I am the vine, and you are the branches. Remain in me as I remain in you. You see, the corpse flower is quite an uncommon flower. It doesn’t even fit into the definition of a flower, since to be classified a real plant, it would need to be entirely self-sufficient. But the corpse flower can’t do anything on its own… it needs the vine for everything.
And I think this relationship is the same sort of dependence in which we live in Jesus. He is our true vine, and without him we can do nothing.
Like a plant that really isn’t a plant, what does it mean to be living without Jesus? It’s like walking through life, knowing that you are living, but not really feeling alive. Do you know what I mean? Do you ever feel like you’re just going through life, and biologically, you know you’re alive? But you don’t really feel like you’re truly living. When we realize our own need for Jesus, we can truly rely on him as our vine. We can truly move from just living, to feeling alive.
Now, we can find comfort that in the deep love of Christ we are the branches off of the living vine, the one true savior Jesus.
If you’re feeling like you aren’t truly living, maybe it’s time to see that Jesus is your vine.