If we can only abide … God makes up the rest.
As we come to another vital section of Jesus’ “Final Discourse” in John 15, one of the things we find is the very secret to thriving in our walks with God. We are told time and time again by Jesus to abide, or remain in Him … handing Him total control over bringing sense to an often senselessly confused world we live in. Jesus tells us clearly to bring everything to Him, leaving it in the only place where it can truly grow as God has willed it to grow.
I Am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. … 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. (Jn. 15:1, 4-5, ESV)
When we root deep in Jesus, our branches will grow because God is not only the good soil but also the One that gives life. Without God’s help, we wither and die. We are simply gathered in a brush pile and burned to ashes (Jn. 15:6). But Jesus has given us the opportunity to do so much more. He makes it possible for us to “bear much fruit and so prove to be His disciples (Jn. 15:8).” We just need to abide in Him and obey what He tells us—ultimately getting to a place where, as a result, Jesus’ “joy may be in [us], and that [our] joy may be full (Jn. 15:11).”
This is all part of what it means to be involved in our local church. This is what happens when we follow Jesus. We grow together, we walk with one another, and we prepare to go forward into a world that can be a hostile place if we are alone. We love one another because Jesus first loved us, and we overflow with that love because of its transformative power when we abide in Him.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. … You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you. (Jn. 15:12-13, 16, ESV)
Through the Holy Spirit’s help, and the path Jesus laid out for us to walk in, we have nothing to fear. For as we learn in the verses following those above, though persecution and troubles may come, God is more than enough. He has pruned us. He has grown us. And He will continue to use us however He deems best … if only we just abide. No more, no less. He is all we need, and He has given us each other through the local church to seek out this truth … together.
But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness about Me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with Me from the beginning. (Jn. 15:26-27, ESV)
QUESTIONS TO PONDER AS YOU STUDY:
- What do you find most relevant to the Christian walk about this image and metaphor of the vine and its branches?
- How do you reconcile this idea about being “pruned” and having “branches … thrown into the fire, and burned” when the situation calls for it (Jn. 15:6)?
- What does it mean to abide in Jesus?
- What does the good fruit of a Christian life look like? How does Jesus transform the fruit-bearing process in His followers?
- How should you respond if people “hate” or “persecute” you because they know you are a follower of Jesus? Does that idea scare you? And if so, why?
Our study of the GOSPEL OF JOHN in review: