“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4 ESV). 1
When Jesus first spoke of abiding in Him, the disciples were comforted by His poetry and promise.
But then follows for the disciples a dichotomy of words: “But now I am going to Him who sent me” (John 16:5). When He spoke of leaving, the disciples were confused. He offered His presence and asked them to remain with Him, yet He warned them that He would go away—where He was going they could not yet go.
The concept of abiding transcended the disciples’ understanding of physical space. We know what they didn’t know: that Jesus took on their sins and emptied Himself so that they could live eternally. We know that they shared in His death and His resurrection, and that He sent His Spirit to them. But what are the implications for us today? How can we understand and live this figure of speech?
The metaphor of a vine and branch represents a relationship unlike any other. Though they are two separate entities, they are joined together. The branch relies on the vine for food and life—connection and sustenance. And the vine nourishes the branch so that it can bear fruit.
Jesus’ command to abide in Him is followed by him showing that we’re completely reliant on Him. “As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me” (John 15:4).
Just as Jesus emptied Himself, we are to empty ourselves for others. He tells His disciples in John 15:12: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” His love for us leads to us loving others. Only when we remain in Him do we grow and bear fruit that brings glory to God (John 15:8).
And we should move beyond loving those who love Him. Jesus prays to the Father: “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word” (John 17:20).
Just as branches are connected to the tree, we should always be connected to Christ. He sustains us. He provides the nourishment we need. Even now, He sends us His Spirit to dwell within us, to abide within us. He demonstrates an eternal presence and an unbroken commitment to loving us. His Spirit has made His home within us to keep us fresh and to bear fruit. This sustenance is eternal. May we be inspired to abide in Him and bear eternal fruit.
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1. All biblical references are from the English Standard Version (ESV).↩