4 Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me.
Judas has left the intimate group of disciples and is going about his business. In the meantime Jesus is giving the remaining disciples instructions that will help them survive all that they will face in the days, weeks, and years to come. They are instructions for them but also for all those disciples who will come later. Judas has chosen to separate himself from Jesus and the rest of the disciples. He has gone off on his own and the results will be disastrous. Jesus gives the remedy for this type of disaster and it has to do with abiding.
That one simple word “abide” can teach us much about our spiritual lives. The form of this word in Greek indicates a constant, on-going action. This is not a one-time occurrence, but this is a constant all day, every day on-going connection to the vine. Other translators have suggested that we consider the word “reside.” That may make even more sense to us — to take up residence in the house of the Lord and stay there!
The whole story is about understanding our dependence up on him. We must depend upon the Lord in all things. Branches that are not attached to the vine will have no chance of bearing fruit. “We are in Christ by grace; but we need to realize and accentuate the union by meditation and prayer. Waiting more absolutely for His impulses in intercession and action. Being silent for Him to speak. Drawing on Him by the constant appeal of faith, which becomes as natural as breathing. Looking away to Him for His commendation. Seeking only His verdict on what may have been said and done. So closely joined to Him, that He may produce in and through us whatever fruit He will for the refreshment of men and the glory of God.” (F.B. Meyer, Our Daily Homily)
It’s not about a single experience, or even two experiences. This is about an intentional every-day, on-going action in which we are connected and dependent upon the vine.
The text is clear and it is also convicting. Abiding in him must be a priority in our lives. Paul said to “pray without ceasing.” (I Thess. 5:17) This is a form of abiding. It is a spirit or an attitude in our lives where we set up residence in our relationship with Jesus Christ. The result is that he is the leader in every aspect of our lives. We are simply the participants in his leading and guiding.
God gives us the grace to abide. This is not something that happens out of our own sheer will-power or self-discipline. Jesus reached out to his disciples with love and grace and welcomed them into this intimate fellowship. Once there, it was not a chore to remain. Yes, Judas slipped away but the others eventually did not. Peter denied Jesus before he got all the way to that point but Jesus never stopped loving any of them. He was constantly drawing them toward him and he is doing the same today.
Feeling the gentle nudge of Christ’s love we simply follow him to that place of abiding. We take a deep breath and realize that he is in control and that our responsibility is to follow. This is residing or abiding. It’s a peaceful place where we place all of our trust in the vine who provides and nourishes. It’s a constant and on-going action.
Lord, thank you for the promise and potential of abiding. Amen.
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