Summary: Jesus says that we must abide in Him, to remain in His love. How can we know that we are abiding in Him?
Over the past few weeks, we have considered several I AM statements of Jesus. These are the things that Jesus said about Himself. In John Chapter 10, Jesus said “I AM the door.” He is the way into God’s kingdom. In John Chapter 8, Jesus said “I AM the light of the world.” He shines in the darkness of sin to show us the way to God. In John Chapter 6, Jesus says, “I AM the bread of life.” He says that those who come to Him will never to hungry and those who believe in Him will never be thirsty.
Today, I want us to look at a passage of scripture from John Chapter 15.
Now let’s set the stage for this passage. Leading up to this passage of scripture, several significant things have happened. On the Sunday before, Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was hailed as a king. The people lined the road shouting “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the king of Israel.” As the week progresses, Jesus teaches his disciples the very hard truth that His earthly ministry is coming to an end.
On Thursday of that week, Jesus takes the disciples to the Upper Room to participate in the Passover feast. And during that time, Jesus washes the disciples’ feet, telling them that He is setting an example for them to follow. They are to be servants, even as Jesus came to be a servant. Jesus institutes the Lord’s Supper, telling His disciples to continue to participate in this meal as a remembrance of Him.
Jesus also predicts His betrayal by Judas and Peter’s denials. Jesus clearly tells the disciples that He will be with them only a short while longer. But He promises them a helper. The Holy Spirit would come to be an Advocate and a guide for them and to lead them into the truth of His word.
As His disciples are clearly troubled at His words that He would be crucified and then would leave them, Jesus has more words of comfort for them.
They sing a hymn together, and at this point, Jesus leads the disciples out of the upper room and they are on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane to pray. But as they are on their way, Jesus speaks to the disciples again. Listen to the words that Jesus says to the disciples:
John 15:1–8 (NIV84)
The Vine and the Branches
15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
As we saw for the other I AM statements of Jesus, He often used the events of the day to teach His disciples. Now, on the way from the upper room to the Garden of Gethsemane, possibly Christ and His disciples were passing some vineyards, or perhaps they walked by the temple with its golden vine decorations. Maybe it was one of these that prompted His analogy of the vine and branches.
But the clear message that Jesus was relaying to His disciples was this. “Remain in Me,” Jesus says. Or as some translations say, “Abide in Me.” Follow the path that I have set out for you. Don’t veer to the left or veer to the right. Stay on course. Abide in me.
Jesus was showing His disciples that in order to carry out the task that He was leaving for them, they would have to continue to trust in Him. They would have to continue to follow His teachings He had given to them over the course of the past three years. And I think Jesus was concerned because He knew our human tendencies. And one of those is “out of sight, out of mind.”
Isn’t that the way we are? When a friend moves away, or when we move to a new community, even if we were the best of friends, there is a gap that develops. When they have been in our life every day, it was just second nature to think of them, or to call them, or to do things with them. But once we’re separated by a distance, that close relationship suffers. We become focused on our here and now and sometimes may not think of them during the day, or even during a week, or a month.