In John 15:1-11 we are introduced to the most amazing metaphor of a vine with branches being tended to by an attentive and committed gardener. Branches cannot grow or sustain life without remaining attached to the vine; which is rooted and provides the life needed to sustain the branches. In this metaphor, the vine is Jesus, the branches are Christians, and the gardener is God the Father. Whilst the branches remain attached to the vine they grow and provide luscious fruit; any branch not producing is removed by the gardener. On occasion the gardener also prunes the fruitful branches to promote more fruitfulness.
In John 15: 4, Jesus told his disciples to “Abide in me, and I in you. As a fruit cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”
To abide means “to remain; continue; stay; dwell; reside; to continue in a particular condition, attitude, relationship etc.” Basically, what Jesus is saying is that we need to stay continuously connected to Him and His Presence from the day of our salvation until the day we go to be with Him. If we don’t remain attached to Him, if we don’t stay connected to our Life Source, we cannot bear fruit.
Abiding isn’t talking about our church attendance, going to life group, being in the worship team, teaching at children’s church, arranging the flowers, making the tea, and all the other Christian activities that we might do for Christ. That’s all about doing. Abiding is talking about connection; it’s speaking of cultivating and maintaining a relationship with Jesus. It’s all about being. Being with Him; remaining attached to Him. It’s about accepting, enjoying and sharing His love. It’s about serving others because of His love. Abiding is about nurturing that love relationship with Jesus and becoming fruitful for Him. Apart from Him anything we do is empty works and cannot last but abiding in Him brings about faithful service and fruitful mission. Abiding in Jesus results in life and bearing fruit. Cut off from Him we cannot bear any fruit and nothing we do will last. Dead and fruitless branches are useless to the gardener. Ultimately, He cuts them off and discards them on the rubbish heap.
Verse 8 says, “This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
Disciples of Jesus bear fruit! If I am not bearing fruit, I have to ask am I truly abiding in Jesus? No fruit, no Jesus! If I don’t abide in Jesus, I can never display His fruit in my life. When I abide, I bear His fruit which brings Him glory. Fruit production is the evidence of my abiding with Jesus. Are you bearing fruit and bringing Him glory? If not, get connected to him and be rooted in Him. He is our ultimate life source. John 10:10 says that Jesus came to “bring life, life in all its fullness; his abundant life.” Abiding in Jesus leads to abundant life. I don’t know about you, but I want to live an abundant life. How? By abiding in Him!
It reminds me that recently I had some spring onion offcuts and Pok Choy offcuts, and instead of throwing away on the rubbish heap, I decided to place them in water and see if I could inspire new life and growth. A few days later, I saw the evidence of new life in new stems and leaves that were growing from these vegetable ends. I have transplanted them in fresh new potting soil, added some seaweed fertiliser and I have been tending them, taking care of them, investing time in them and watching them grow.
As I look at these little plants growing, I am reminded how important it is that they root. Without a root system they will not fruit; they will not grow and fruit so that I can use them. Isn’t that the same with you and me? Col 2:7 says, “we are to continue living our lives in Him, rooted and built up in Him...” Rooted means firmly planted; grounded; established; firm; deep.” If we are going to continue in Him, that means I need to stay connected to Him who is the vine; planted in Him, established, firmly attached to Him. As I stay rooted, it’s His life flowing into me that brings about new growth and stabilises me so that I might be fruitful. No rooting means there can be no fruiting. No rooting means no growth, development or usefulness.
Jesus says in verse 9, "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love." I think Jesus is telling us that he loves us as much as his Father loves him. The Father’s love is never ending, unchangeable, unfathomable, uncontainable, extravagant, passionate and totally pure. That’s what Jesus’s love is like for you and me. He extends the invitation to us to simply indulge ourselves in His love. He is telling us to let his love in and simply soak in it and enjoy it. He wants us to have such a revelation of His love that no matter what we face, we will never doubt His great love for us. He wants us to settle this once and for all - He loves us. Nothing can ever change that truth. Abiding means to live in His love continuously and never doubt it. How do we abide in His love? Well verse 10 tells us that when we keep His commandments, we continue to abide in His love. If we really love Jesus, we will obey Him. Obedience shows the reality of our love for Him and obedience releases more life and fruitfulness.
Which takes us to verse 11 where Jesus says, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
Here Jesus is making a connection with our abiding in Him and us having joy. As we abide with Him, His joy will be found in us. Not just a little joy, but the fullness of His joy. That’s a lot of joy! And not just any joy but His joy, fully formed in you and me. As we continue to abide in Him, we become full of Him and we find His joy released in greater measure in our lives. Nehemiah 10:8 says, “for the joy of the Lord is my strength.” We all need joy in this world. We all need strength. We need His joy and strength so that we might continue to live faithful, fruitful and abundant lives, no matter what season we find ourselves in. How are your joy levels? This will help you determine your level of abiding.
Today Jesus invites you and I to, “abide in me and I in you.” This is an all or nothing invitation. Will you accept it and enjoy the most amazing abundant and fruitful life in Him. I hope so...