"If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is ..." (John 15:6-8)

"If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples." (John 15:6-8)

'In me' or 'with me'?

As discussed with Jesus' previous statement in John 15:4-5, the Greek word translated to "in" also means "with," "by" or "among."

Was Jesus really asking his disciples to climb inside of his physical body? If so, how do they get in there? And if they were inside of Jesus, why did Jesus have to speak out loud in order to communicate with them?

In other words, there is no practical basis for the phrase, "remain in me."

The translators did not understand the practical basis of this discussion and the purpose of his statements here. Instead they are influenced by centuries of sectarian misconception about Jesus and his mission.

The English word "in" being used here is being translated from the Greek word ἐν (en), which may be translated to "in," but also can be translated to "with" or "by" or "among" according to the Greek lexicon.

For example, if the word ἐν (en) was being used to describe grapes being put inside a bucket, then the word ἐν (en) should be translated to "in." But in the context of people, you cannot put a person "in" another person. In this context, the word ἐν (en) should be translated to "with."

The Lost Gospels of Jesus translates these verses with some slight differences:
"If one does not remain with me, they will be cast away like a branch that dries up. These are gathered up and cast into the fire where they will be burned. If you remain with me, and my teachings remain with you, ask what you will and it will be done for you. My LORD will be glorified by your bearing much fruit, and thus you will be my followers." (John 15:6-8)
We can see how much more practical this statement by Jesus becomes when ἐν (en) is translated correctly. Jesus was discussing the fact that he will be physically leaving them shortly due to the coming sacrifice of his physical body at the hands of the institutional temple high priests and Romans.

Because his physical body was going to be killed, he is assuring his disciples that they will remain "with" him, simply by virtue of their following his instructions ("words") and teaching others - "showing yourselves to be my disciples."

Jesus' discussion with his closest followers illustrates that he expected his disciples to continue his mission to serve the Supreme Being.

Did Jesus expect his followers to pass on his teachings?

During Jesus' time, this is what disciples were expected to do by their teacher. It is a long-standing tradition that disciples were expected to learn from their teacher and then pass on those teachings. Jesus compares this process of passing on those teachings to "bearing fruit" - "you will bear much fruit."

This fact that Jesus wanted his disciples to preach is confirmed elsewhere, such as:
He appointed twelve--designating them apostles--that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach (Mark 3:14)
He also instructed them specifically:
"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 6:15)
Jesus clarified his own mission to preach to people with many statements, including:
"Let us go somewhere else--to the nearby villages--so I can preach there also. That is why I have come." (Mark 1:38)
"I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." (Luke 4:43)
Jesus also described the purpose of his preaching:
"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed" (Luke 4:18)
In this last verse we must see the symbolism being used:

1) "poor" is not referring to how much financial wealth a person has. It is being compared to one who is derift of knowledge.

2) "proclaim freedom for the prisoners" is not talking about people in jail. It is comparing those of us trapped within the physical world and material consciousness as "prisoners."

3) "recovery of sight for the blind" is not talking about being physically blind. It is comparing our not understanding our identity as spiritual (and not material), and our relationship with the Supreme Being to being blind. Returning our "sight" is thus compared to seeing who we really are, as loving caregivers of the Supreme Being.

4) "release the oppressed" is comparing those of us who are oppressed by our self-centered desires to enjoy the physical world and our physical bodies. We are oppressed by our desires because self-centeredness is contrary to our nature.

Are we all loving servants?

We are caregivers. This is why even the wealthiest and most famous people find their greatest fulfillment (within the physical realm) by caring for others, whether it be their families or people in poor countries.

While Jesus certainly was charitable, and he healed some people's physical bodies, as he clarified himself (see above verses), he did not come to heal people's bodies. If he did, he would have set up a hospital and he would have healed people all day.

But he didn't. His focus was upon healing people's spiritual selves. His physical healings were intended to bring attention to his teachings.

And his teachings said nothing about his "dying for our sins," as some proclaim. If Jesus taught that he would be "dying for our sins" then why didn't he teach this? He didn't. In fact, Jesus did not die - his body died, but he didn't.

Rather, Jesus' teachings were about loving God and serving God: Doing God's will. This also happens to be the thrust of the teachings of all the prophets before Jesus, including Abraham, Moses, Joshua, Eli, Samuel, David, Job, Noah, Ezekiel and others - whom Jesus often quoted.

We can see the focus of Jesus' teachings upon serving God (doing the "will of my Father"):
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven." (Matt. 7:21)
We can also see the central focus of his teachings:
"'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment." (Matt. 22:37-38)

How can we remain with Jesus?

Thus, we can know that "remaining with Jesus" means following these teachings. When a person becomes a lover of God they come to love all of God's children. When a person begins to do God's will they work to please God - by helping God's children by passing along these Truths. This is what Jesus was encouraging his disciples to do, and by doing this, they would "remain with" Jesus, even though separated from Jesus' physical body. By adhering to his teachings, Jesus clarifies that "my words remain with you"

Should one of his disciples not "remain with" him by his teachings ("words") remaining with them, Jesus clarifies that they will be "like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned."

This point also clarifies that Jesus was not suggesting that anyone - including his disciples he is speaking to here - turn God or Jesus into their servants. He wasn't saying "ask for anything that fulfills your self-centered desires and it will be given to you." This doesn't mean that Jesus is teaching - contrary to the teachings of some - that we should be asking Jesus to make us wealthy or make our football team win. This completely contradicts the very notion of Jesus' teachings remaining with them. Notice the if-then statement here:
"If you remain with me and my words remain with you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you."
This is a powerful "if" to consider. This means that what his disciples would be asking of the Supreme Being would be related to helping them learn to love and please the Supreme Being. This is a request that even Jesus himself requested in his own prayers:
“LORD, if it pleases You, take this cup away from me, but let Your will – not mine – be done.” (Luke 22:42)