(The book of John takes us through many deep discussions that Jesus gave at various times in His ministry. Please click herefor Study #1 — Jesus and Nicodemus; Study #2 — The Woman at the Well; Study #3 — At the Pool of Bethesda; and Study #4 — Bread of Life; and Study #5 — The Shepherd and His Flock. The next 7 devotionals are from John chapter 15, and they focus on the lessons we can learn from Jesus’ famous discourse, “The Vine and the Branches.” )
Last week, in The Vine and the Branches, Part 5, we discovered that staying connected to the vine must begin with accepting Jesus’ gift of Salvation. It then requires that we understand that once we’ve given our hearts to Jesus, He lives “in” us, and we “in” Him. We are part of Him. We are “part of the vine!”
But we all know that you can be an official part of something without truly feeling like you are part of that something. Being connected, then, must mean more than simply being “in” Christ, being a “part of” the vine. How do we truly “stay connected” to Jesus?
Our next clue for staying connected to Jesus comes to us in Jesus’ discourse, John 15 vs. 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…” (John 15:7 NKJV)
This verse shows us that abiding in Jesus means that His Words will abide in us!
I find it interesting that in most of the references Jesus gives, He pairs up “If you abide in me” with “I in you.” But verse 7 changes this up slightly to say that if we abide in Him, then His Word will abide in us! I believe what Jesus is trying to emphasize here is that when we allow Jesus into our hearts, He shouldn’t be seen as a silent guest, but rather as One who has important things to say. We need to listen for those “things” He wishes to share with us! Abiding in Jesus means being open to His voice, being motivated by His opinion and His thoughts. His desires must be adapted as our own!
Two verses later, Jesus gives us another clue into staying connected with the vine: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.” (John 15:9)
We remain “in” the Vine by remaining “in” God’s love!
But wait. How do you remain in God’s love?
Again, Jesus doesn’t leave us in the dark: “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” (John 15:10, NIV2)
Sorry folks. I know you were all hoping that this particular thing wouldn’t be part of abiding in Jesus. But it is. A vital part. Jesus even says that the reason He, Himself, abides in the Father’s love is because He keeps God’s commands!
Friends, when we are deeply in love with someone, we trust them and we want to make them happy. When that person asks us to do something, we will do it immediately. Jesus wants us to be so much “in love” with Him that we will do what He asks us to do, immediately! When we don’t obey Him, it is a symptom of not being in love with Him.
It makes sense, really. If my husband declares 100 times a day that he loves me, yet he never does anything that he knows will please me, then I would most certainly doubt his words. It is through his actions, in his efforts to do the things that please me, that I can see that he truly does love me. And it is in keeping Jesus’ commands that we can abide in His love, and thus, abide in Him.
And just in case we don’t remember what Jesus’ commands are, He repeats them: “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Wait a minute. What about the “Love the Lord Your God” part? That part is lots easier than loving one another!
True enough. Yet in this passage we see that loving God by abiding in Him cannot be separated from loving our neighbor. We just can’t do one without the other, so if you think you love God, but you don’t love your neighbor, then you are deceiving yourself.
But just how do we show our love so that we abide in Him? Jesus once again has the answer: “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” (John 15:12-13, NKJV)
And this, of course, is exactly what Jesus did! He laid down His life for you and I! And He is encouraging us to do just that: To give unselfishly of ourselves for one another.
And that is it, friends. We remain in the vine when we love and trust Jesus so much that we do what He asks of us, and that love and trust comes from having a personal, deep relationship with the Creator of the Universe. It comes from spending special time with Him, meditating on His love, on His power, on the many miracles He has already written in and around our lives. And when you do, His power and strength will flow through us, and we will bear much Fruit!
And don’t forget that God will help you along the way. Has He not promised that we can do all things through Christ, who gives us strength??
But is fruit-bearing and avoiding the pruner’s sheers the only reasons for staying “in the vine?” Aren’t there some other fringe benefits to abiding in Jesus?
You bet. Join us next week for the concluding part of The Vine and the Branches: Part 7, The Fringe Benefits.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the rest of this mini-series, please click here.)