Jesus spoke to his disciples in John 15 words that have become familiar to us. He had just predicted his death to them, something they could not wrap their minds around, and He promised that He would send an advocate, a Helper, to be with them forever. As He spoke to his closest friends, Jesus began to weave together the tapestry of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Then Jesus paints a picture of being “in him” that they would understand—that of a vineyard. He uses the word “abide” eleven times in the first sixteen verses.
Abide in me, and I in you. (v. 4)
As the branch cannot bear fruit unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. (v. 4)
Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. (v. 5)
If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. (v. 6)
If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. (v. 7)
Abide in my love. (v. 9)
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. (v. 10)
You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. (v. 16)
In my mind, abiding has always meant being passively present. And there is an element of that—just resting in him. We expect abiding to be something we can just show up for, but a wise friend recently pointed out that abiding takes work.
Verse 10 shows us how we abide in his love.
“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.”
Keep his commandments. We can’t do that alone or in our own power. He is our example and our power source. Only in him can we even attempt to keep his commandments.
“When our Lord says: Abide in me he is talking about the will, about the choices, the decisions we make. We must decide to do things which expose ourselves to him and keep ourselves in contact with him. This is what it means to abide in him.”James Montgomery Boice
We have to work to abide in him. Expose ourselves to Jesus and keep in contact with him. In our culture, guys are abiding in many things other than Jesus—politics, tribalism, sports; you name the vice. We hold on to a lot of things that are not the True Vine. We default to resting in what is easy or convenient. And in the things of Christ, we can become passive, even lazy, just hanging out, soaking it up, and never doing the work. We need to focus on doing the work of abiding in Christ.
A man who is abiding will invite the men around him, his wife, and his children to abide.
It’s no coincidence Jesus spoke of the Helper before He gave his disciples these exhortations. We cannot do it without him. He is the one who keeps us. He is our source, and without abiding in him, we live a fruitless life. Submit to the pruning. Lean in. Abide in worship, study, and fellowship. Reach out and accept what Christ has given. Reach out to the True Vine. Get your work clothes on and do the work of abiding.