The Call to Abide

The Invitation

Jesus said, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 (NASB)

People don’t use the word abide much anymore. It smells a little musty and looks a bit worn, like furniture in an antique store. But abide is the perfect word for describing the kind of relationship Jesus offered to His twelve disciples in the Upper Room—and to us.

Some modern translations use remain or live in John 15, but those words lack the intimacy, the hominess of abide. It’s the difference between ordering room service in a five-star hotel room and settling in at Grandma’s home for a week of her comfort-food cooking and soul-reviving hospitality. The warmth of a hand-stitched quilt, the aroma of freshly baked chocolate-chip cookies, the smooth leather cover of a well-read Bible—abide is that kind of word.

The Greek word translated abide can refer to place, time, or condition. According to Thayer’s lexicon, it suggests an unbroken fellowship with someone. In reference to the Holy Spirit, it implies a relationship established “permanently in my soul,” which “continually exerts power on me.”*

Jesus used the metaphor of a grape vine and its branches to explain the principle of abiding to the disciples. Branches are only able to thrive and produce fruit if they are connected to the vine. Separated from the vine, the branches are just fire fodder.

Similarly, we can do nothing of any eternal value—nothing that brings glory to Jesus—if we do not abide in Him. The tendency to wander, to strike out on our own, is always a fruitless, unsatisfying, and often destructive venture.

A few hours after Jesus said, “Abide in Me,” the disciples chose not to abide. They fled into the darkness when the soldiers arrested their Lord. But the days of separation from Jesus—between His crucifixion and resurrection—cured the disciples of their wanderlust. After Jesus ascended into heaven, the disciples remained true. Through the power of the indwelling Spirit, they embraced the “Abide in Me” lifestyle until they were martyred.

We have that choice too. The King of kings and Lord of lords offers us the privilege of abiding in His presence, of taking up permanent residence with Him, to enjoy all the blessings of His intimate companionship.

Will we accept His invitation?

DIG DEEPER:

Read John 15:1-11. What connections does Jesus draw between abiding in Him, experiencing joy, and receiving what we request?

Read Psalm 91. What are the blessings of abiding “in the shadow of the Almighty” (NASB) according to this psalmist?

Read John 12:24-26. What similarities do you see between the seed metaphor in this passage and the vine metaphor in John 15? (Note: Most versions use “remains” rather than “abides” in verse 24.)

Denise K. Loock

This devotion is part of an Easter series: The Upper Room Teachings under Dig into Easter.

* “Greek Lexicon :: G3306 (KJV).” Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 4 Mar, 2016. http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3306&t=KJV

 

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