Abide

grapes-984493_640About a week ago I was reading through John, and some of the verses really stood out to me.

The first verses came from John 8. Jesus is predicting His death and speaking of the Father, and we read the people’s response in verse 30, “As He spoke these words, many believed in Him.”

Keep that in mind. Because those people become His audience for the rest of the chapter.

In the very next verse, we read the following:

“Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, ‘If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed.'”

He’s talking to Jews who believe in Him. And yet He’s telling them that belief is not enough. They need to become His disciples – they need to abide in His words – live in them, dwell on them, follow them.

Jesus continues with the famous quote, “And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” To which they respond with ignorance of their own sin, wondering how they can be set free. They’re sons of Abraham, the chosen people of God – they don’t need to be set free!

But Jesus tells them the truth: they do need to be set free. In fact, He goes so far as to say that they are not sons of Abraham but of the devil!

Nowhere does the text indicate that His audience has changed. As far as I can tell, He is still speaking to “those Jews who believed Him”. And He’s calling them sons of the devil!

Belief is not enough. As James tells us, “You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe—and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?” (4:19-20).

 

The second passage that stood out to me was John 14.

This chapter happens to contain my favorite verse, John 14:21, “He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”

I sort of claimed this verse as my own several years ago because I loved the promise in it, that God would manifest and reveal Himself to me. But today it continues to serve as a reminder that I should not just know His commandments, but that I should keep them. It goes along with the verses I just mentioned in chapter 8. Belief is not enough. Knowing God’s commands is not enough. We have to love the Lord and demonstrate our love through obedience.

But that wasn’t the verse that stood out to me this particular reading. It was actually verse 23, which is very similar:

“Jesus answered and said to him, ‘If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.'”

Verse 21 says that if we keep God’s commands, then we demonstrate our love for Him. Verse 23 words it in reverse: if we love God, then we will keep His commands. Loving and obeying – they’re together, inseparable.

And what is the result of our love and obedience? Beautiful promises! We will be “loved by My Father.” Jesus will “manifest” Himself to us. God will make His home with us.

John 15 ties in very well with these thoughts, as it encourages us to abide in Christ. He is the Vine; we are the branches. We can’t bear fruit apart from Him. To try to bear fruit on our own is as futile as a hand trying to move apart from the brain, or a twig trying to produce flowers after it’s fallen to the ground. But when we remain attached to the Vine and abide in Him, then He bears fruit through us. And we don’t just bear a little fruit. John 15:5 says, “…He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (emphasis mine).

Jesus continues,

By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My 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. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full. This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:8-11).

What do I see here?

Point 1: If we abide in Jesus, we bear much fruit. Not just a little, but much! And since we’re just the branches, Christ is bearing fruit through us, and thus God is glorified.

Point 2: If we keep His commandments, we will abide in His love. This goes along with chapter 14. If we keep His commandments, He will reveal Himself to us and make His home with us – He will abide in us as we abide in Him. And it goes along with what He told the Jews in chapter 8: if we abide in His word, then we are truly His disciples.

Point 3: And what are His commandments? Jesus doesn’t give a whole list, but rather, just one: to love one another as He has loved us.

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God; and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God, for God is love” (1 John 4:7-8).