by Scott Stake
Over the past month or so, our family has been studying the Gospel of John in our devotions (we’ve also been watching the “Gospel of John” movie here; just a heads up though that Desmond from “Lost” plays Jesus…quite a mix of worlds!). Our times together have been rich, as we’ve seen Jesus, the glorious Son of God full of grace and truth, inviting His people to believe in Him and to receive from His fullness, grace upon grace (John 1:14, 16).
Last week, we reached the climax of the gospel narrative, where John records in great detail Jesus’ last hours with His disciples. Jesus serves his disciples by washing their feet, inaugurates the Lord’s Supper, speaks of His impending death, and promises the coming of another Helper, the Holy Spirit. But the section of Scripture I’ve been particularly struck by and meditating on is Jesus’ vivid and powerful illustration in John 15:5—“ 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.”
Mull that over a minute. Jesus is the vine. He is the source of all life, strength, and fruit. He is our sustenance, the One from whom all life flows. We are the branches. We are connected to Jesus, and He now ministers and reveals His life in His spiritual body, the Church. If we abide in Him and He in us, we bear much fruit—we bear not only the fruit of the Spirit, but have fruitful ministry as we live out & share the gospel. But apart from Jesus, the life-giving vine, we have neither life nor fruit.
Seems pretty simple. But how are you and I doing at responding to this invitation? Are we enjoying intimacy and fellowship with our Savior? Are we bearing fruit as we receive from the Author & Sustainer of life? Andrew Murray, in his work Abide in Christ, states the following about many believers:
It is to be feared that there are many earnest followers of Jesus from whom the meaning of this word, with the blessed experience it promises, is very much hidden. While trusting in their Saviour for pardon and for help, and seeking to some extent to obey Him, they have hardly realized to what closeness of union, to what intimacy of fellowship, to what wondrous oneness of life and interest, He invited them when He said, "Abide in me." This is not only an unspeakable loss to themselves, but the Church and the world suffer in what they lose.
Four Oaks, we will be tempted to try and do things on our own strength, to rely on our own abilities, to lean on our own understanding, and to live life without God at the center. But Jesus invites us to a better way. We are created and redeemed for communion with Him, for intimacy with our Savior and Friend. Not just focused on performance or getting things done, but enjoying the person of Jesus.
If we desire to abide in Christ, Jesus gives us a couple things to consider from John 15.
1. Abide in His Word (verse 7). If you desire to know Jesus and commune with Him, spend time reading and meditating on the Word of God. And if this something you haven’t done in awhile, I encourage you to start with one of the gospels, focusing on the character and deeds of Jesus. Get to know Him and consider how you can depend on and trust in Him more.
2. Abide in His Love (verses 9-10). This has the idea of both gratitude and obedience, of worshipping and following, of admiration and imitation. We first want to continually remind ourselves of how much Jesus loves us. He obeyed His Father completely by shedding His blood for us! Preach the gospel to ourselves daily. As Brian Hedges states, we are to “keep ourselves in His infinite, enduring, sin-bearing, heart-conquering, life-giving love.”
But Jesus also tells us that we abide in His love by keeping His commandments, by following Jesus’ example of loving others. As we love others, we abide in His love because His loves flows through us. So, abiding through obedience actually results in greater intimacy with Christ!
Four Oaks, Jesus is calling you and me. He’s inviting us to abide in Him, His word, and His love. May we enjoy Him and all that He is for us and receive from His fullness today and every day.