1997-09-18 - Abiding
The Cross Series, Part 9
John 15:1-11 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 "Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit. 3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 "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. 6 "If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you. 8 "By this is My Father glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 "Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. 10 "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. 11 "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.
The economy of Israel at this time was still largely agricultural. They were farmers or fishermen, etc. but they all understood at least the rudiments of what Jesus is saying here. The vine is the source of life to the branches of the vine. If a vine remains untended, it would still bear grapes for a while. But when it is tended and cared for, it produces much, much more. The Father is identified as the Master of the Vineyard, or the one caring for this vine. Once the dead and broken branches are pruned away from a vine, the new and existing branches can spread out and grow into the vacated space. The vine also no longer has to try to support the dead and weak branches.
Healthy branches don't do a whole lot. They may wave in the breeze, or storm. They bend under the weight of their fruit (hopefully). Otherwise, the branch is utterly dependent upon the vine for life. As long as the branch remains healthy and attached to the vine, the life that pours into the branch (the Holy Spirit) generates fruit. If the flow of sap to the branch is blocked or slowed, the branch will not stay healthy and produce fruit to its potential. The job of the branch is simply to abide. That's it! The branch can do nothing at all on it's own. Indeed if it were not abiding, the Lord has promised to remove that branch and destroy it.
How do we as branches abide? If we keep Jesus' commandments, we will abide in His love. That love, which is leading Him to Calvary at this point, is the only reason any of us as human beings have life. Jesus' summary of the Commandments left us with instructions to love God with all of our hearts, souls, minds and strength; and to love our neighbors as ourselves. If we can do these things, we will be very different from the world. Different in a way that many people will find attractive when they see it is constant and genuine. The Father is glorified when people see this difference. People gravitate toward things they like. When they get courageous enough to start asking questions, they become fruit on the branch that is you.
The Lord even tells us why He is imparting this bit of information. He wants to fill our lives with His joy. The unspeakable joy that comes when a coworker bows his or her head and quietly asks Jesus into their heart, or a friend, or a son or daughter is not of this world. It is a sharp contrast to the emotional struggles the disciples are going through during this instruction of Jesus. I doubt more than a few of them, if any, could digest this information at that moment. But they had it stored in their minds for the Holy Spirit to recall when they were able to understand.
Lord Jesus - Help us to see the simplicity of what you ask us to do. Where ever we are, whatever we are doing, to show people the love that You showed us. It may require the turn of a cheek or two before people see the reality of You in our lives. Make us mirrors of that love, mercy and grace we see You expressing here. And grant us the joy of leading another soul home to You, and to know they joy of that moment. Amen.
Grace & Peace,
All verses are from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) unless otherwise noted.