“Abide in me, and I in you”. These words, spoken by Christ, are chronicled in John 15:4 at a very critical moment in His life, and the lives of his disciples. After they had finished Passover supper, Christ led eleven of them into a vineyard to share the message of abiding, but they did not understand.
The disciples were already confused by everything that had happened earlier in the evening. Before dinner, they watched Christ rise from his seat, “lay aside his outer clothing, take a towel and tie it around himself…pour water into a basin and begin to wash his disciples’ feet and to dry them with the towel around him” (John 13: 4-5). You can only imagine how odd they felt to see their Rabbi, the one they had witnessed heal the sick, restore vision to the blind and hearing to the deaf, cast out demons, feed 5,000 with a two loaves of bread and five fish, and raise Lazarus from the dead, kneeling before them with a towel wrapped around His waist so he could wash and dry their feet.
Once the feet washing was complete, Christ then shared that He would, “be with [them] a little while longer”, but that where he was going, the disciples would not be able to follow until later (John 13:33, 36). Confused yet again, Peter spoke up for his brethren, asking why they could not go, and that he, Peter, would lay down his life for Christ. But the Lord shared with Peter, “Truly I tell you, a rooster will not crow until you have denied me three times” (John 13:38).
You can imagine how that statement sent the disciples reeling. Peter, the one who was part of Jesus’ inner circle, the most steadfast, dedicated and loyal disciple, the one who walked on water, the one who acknowledged before them that Christ was the son of God, would deny Jesus? Impossible!
Christ then shared with his flock that he would not leave them alone when he left them, but that he would ask the Father to give them the “Spirit of Truth”, another Counselor that would be with them for eternity (John 14:16-17), and that would “teach [them] all things and remind [them] of everything [He] had told them” (John 14:25).
I am sure the disciples were quite baffled, especially since this was supposed to be a celebratory dinner. Just days before, they had watched as Christ entered into Jerusalem to great fanfare. The people to which Christ had ministered, and who had seen him perform miracles, all had shouted, “Hosanna! Hosanna!” and placed palm leaves on the ground as he rode into town on a donkey. But the euphoria of that moment had waned, and Jesus was now speaking about leaving them.
Christ knew his disciples were uneasy with what He was sharing, and they had every right to be. Everything they knew, and the life they had been living, was about to change. Christ knew that the moment He was sent to this earth to accomplish, to sacrifice His life for us, was coming. However, rather than allowing his disciples to fall into fear, he shares His peace with them, stating: “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your hearts be troubled or fearful…I will not be with you much longer, because the ruler of the world is coming. He has no power over me. On the contrary, so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do as the Father commanded me.” (John 14:27-31).
Then they went to the vineyard.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. 9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. 10 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. 11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.”
These words were spoken by Christ not too long before he was arrested, tried, beaten, and mocked; just a few short hours before he was made to carry his cross to Golgotha where his hands and feet were nailed to the cross, spoke his seven last words and gave up his life for us. In this moment, hours before the crucifixion, Jesus shared with his disciples, and us, the secret to living life with abundance: to abide with the Father.
Abiding is not a passive act. It means to take an active stance in order to “remain beside”, “to remain in place instead of leaving”, and “to cleave unto” something or someone. Abiding with God takes this concept deeper because He wants us to abide not only with Him, but in Him. In order for us to abide in God, then we must make the time to develop a relationship with Him. This means, we make the time to sit at the Lord’s feet through prayer and to learn about His ways through reading His word, so we can reach the goal of living our “lives in Him, rooted and built up, [and] strengthened in faith” (Colossians 2:6).
Over the next 11 weeks, I will be sharing what Christ meant when he called for his disciples to “abide in me” that night in the vineyard, and how that same word applies to our lives through my summer blog series “Abide in Me”. We will study one verse every Wednesday between June 21st and August 30th, in order to understand what abiding in God means, and how it leads to a life of abundance.
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