Summary: Jesus moves from talking about being in the vine to abiding in his love, words, and joy. Learn about what it means to have so much of Jesus in you that you just can’t keep it in any more!
The themes in this chapter are: abiding in the vine, pruning, bearing fruit, experiencing love, joy, a new type of relationship with Jesus, persecution, and the witness of the Spirit speaking out of our lives. We’re going to talk about abiding mostly—abiding in Jesus, in His Word, His love, His joy, and His fellowship.
The word “clean” here is a form of the same word “prune” in verse 2. From hearing and believing in the words of Jesus, we are already connected to the vine, beginning the pruning process and are bearing fruit. The life comes from believing the Word. The disciples worried that they might be “cut off” so Jesus reassures them that they are already in Him and tells them the real quality of this relationship is permanence.
4 – 6 Abiding in Jesus
The word “abide” appears 11 times in this chapter. They are all the same word: meno. It means to “stay” and is translated in other places “tarry” “remain” “continue” “dwelleth” as in “the Father dwelleth in me”.
In various places it describes the enduring nature of our election (Romans 9:11), the city that remains in heaven that we look forward to (Hebrews 13:14), and the continuance of faith, hope and love (1 Corinthians 13).
Notice verse 5: “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.” The idea is yes, we can’t bear real fruit in our lives apart from him, but it also means that in Him we WILL bear fruit. This is important to remember as we go through the rest of the chapter.
Oddly, a grape branch can survive for a time cut off from the vine, and produce some leaves, but no fruit. In the same way, we as humans appear on the outside as if we are okay apart from Jesus. We go to work, we have families and life goes on. But two things happen: 1-life cannot last and death has already begun and 2-there is no fruit, nothing produced that will last or have a positive eternal effect.
Judas did not abide in the Words of Jesus but rejected them and Him. In the same way the Jewish religious leaders rejected the coming of the Messiah, rejecting Jesus and His Word. Their interpretation of the Old Covenant is good for nothing but to be discarded in the burn pile.
7 – 8 Abide in His Word
We love the first part of this: “ask for anything and I’ll give it to you.” “Yeah, give me a Porsche and constant health, and great friends who will always stand by me and an Xbox 360 and, oh, let’s see—a couple hundred million dollars would be nice.”
But keep in mind several key things:
1) Abiding in Jesus means his life is flowing through you, changing you into a different character, one that thinks and acts like Jesus
2) So the more you abide the more what you wish for is what Jesus wishes for too
3) The purpose is two-fold: bring glory to God and proof to the world that God loves and saves people
9 – 10 Abide in His love
I think this speaks to us of the closeness of our relationship with Jesus. Jesus had a very close relationship with the Father while on earth. The Father told Jesus what to do and say and that’s what He did and said. As we enjoy and focus on our relationship, we are better able to hear and obey his commands. The kind of love the Father has for Jesus comes through to us, a love that transforms us into people who think and act like Jesus. Who would want anything other than abiding in that?
Abiding is an ongoing process. It’s not just that we plug in for a recharge then go about on our batteries. We need to always be plugged into that source—always worshipping and praying and learning and growing and serving.
This isn’t legalism; it’s actually freedom to live a joyous life!
11 – Abide In His Joy
Did you know that Jesus is happy? He isn’t sitting up in heaven frowning down at all us stupid humans and shaking his head. Jesus is full of joy. He is full of joy because he is good, pure, and holy. Joy comes when we are free from the evil that spoils everything.
Jesus wants that joy to be ours! And not just any joy but full complete joy. “joy” means “a calm delight.” Now cram that joy until it is overflowing and you have “full” or “complete” joy.
Christians, contrary to popular belief, are not sour and dour but joyful and at peace. We can be that way because of our relationship of abiding in God’s love and knowing that we can just live day to day enjoying Him and letting Him walk us through difficulties on the way to an eternity uninterrupted by sorrow.