Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the word abide. I’ve read it many times in my Bible in different passages but I’d never been captivated as I have been lately by the idea of it in John 15. Let’s read the passage, understand better what this word implies, and then consider how it applies to our lives.
In John 15 the Greek root for the word abide(s), meno, shows up ten times in just a short number of verses from 4-11. When one word is used that frequently it means it’s important!
“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:4-11 ESV)
Understanding the word
What does abide really mean? The idea is that we remain or act in accordance with something. It’s the staying or continuing in something. In this case the something is someone, the Lord.
How we can apply this
In light of better understanding the word abide how does that apply to our lives? Jesus tells us to abide. Stay in His love, enjoy His love. Only when we abide are we receiving the life giving sap of the vine that produces fruit. It is a waiting process. It is allowing Christ to flow through us. It’s not resisting.
The imagery in this passage of a vine and branches is so beautiful because branches aren’t supporting the vine but the vine supports the branches. Since Christ supports us it isn’t by our own strength that we abide. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1Thess. 5:24 ESV)
Recently I read this passage by Catherine Marshall from her book on prayer: “Our human hang-up is thinking that spirituality is something we do. ‘Not so,’ says Jesus. ‘Rather it is My life in you.’ The branch does not have to stretch and strain to grow and produce fruit. The branch’s part is simply to remain connected to the Vine, to abide there so that the life-giving sap can flow. Then only do we ‘bear much fruit.’”
You know what the most beautiful fruit is that we get? We get more of Jesus and his joy and love. Listen again to that last part of verse 11, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
Our fullest ability to understand and experience joy is found in Christ. If you want joy and gladness then be continually connecting to the Lord. Jonathan Edwards put it so eloquently when he wrote, “The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted.”
When we are happy in Jesus that brings him glory. The result of abiding in Christ is JOY! It’s this incredible dance happening. Isn’t it awesome and mind blowing that he designed it that way?
To quote John Piper in his book God’s Passion for His glory, “Sometimes people ask: should we pursue obedience to God or joy in God? Edwards would answer: The question involves a category confusion. It’s like asking: should I pursue fruit or apples? Obedience is doing what we are told. And we are told to delight ourselves in the Lord. Therefore pursuing joy in God is obedience.”
John 15 is such a beautiful passage and what it teaches us about abiding is crucial to our understanding of joy in Christ. If you want to bear much fruit and joy then abide in Christ’s love. May you abide, rest, remain, and stay connected to Jesus who is the source of true life.
Have you studied this passage before? What have you personally learned about abiding? Let’s chat in the comments below!