Thursday, JULY 5
SCRIPTURE: John 15
As you were reading this chapter, I have no doubt that you noticed the word abide. It, or its synonym (continue in verse 9 and remain in verse 11), is used some eleven times in the first eleven verses. Since Jesus used this word so many times in such a short section, there must be something of great value that He wants us to understand. That means there must be something of great value that we should know.
The word abide simply means to dwell in. In this particular chapter there is a lot of talk about Jesus abiding in us and us abiding in Jesus. You might think that there couldn’t be one without the other. And you may be right. But I want you to use your imagination for a moment.
Imagine someone with an aquarium full of water and an empty glass. If that person turned the glass upside down and shoved it quickly into the water, the glass would be completely surrounded by the water. That might be like us abiding in Jesus. But there would no water inside of the glass. If you are tracking with this analogy, this would mean that Jesus is not abiding in us. In fact, the air in the glass would be trying to force the glass out of the water.
If you turned the glass right side up, it would quickly fill with water. At that point, the glass would not only be completely surrounded by the water but the glass would also be filled with the water. I really think that is the picture that Jesus is painting for us: He in us and us in Him.
When this mutual abiding is taking place, the believer will produce fruit (verse 2). The believer will experience pruning (verse 2). That means the believer will experience discipline by the hand of the Father so that we can produce even more fruit. The believer will experience answered prayer (verse 7). The believer will experience a deepening love for Jesus and other believers (verse 9). And the believer will experience a greater joy.
The chapter also shows us at least a couple of results of all of this abiding. The first one, in verse 15 is that Jesus will no longer call us servants. He will, instead, call us friends. I am not sure I fully comprehend this. Don’t get me wrong. I like it. I really like it. I have even sung songs about it. But it is more than a bit mind-boggling for me to think about Jesus thinking of me as His friend. This really is close to crazy to think about. God’s only Son knows me, everything about me, and still calls me His friend.
The other result of this abiding begins in verse 17. It is simply that the world persecuted Jesus unmercifully. As His friends, we should expect nothing less. The world hates Jesus. Ultimately, the world hates those who are like Jesus.
I think most of us who live in this part of the country that we used to affectionately call the Bible Belt kind of skated through this one. We are fortunate to live in an area that has a bunch of folks who call themselves Christians. So, at times we almost feel like the majority.
But this is changing. As I said a couple of weeks ago from the platform, the church is increasingly perceived to be the villain and Christ followers are increasingly seen as enemies of the state. If this trend continues, persecution cannot be far behind.
But take heart. Jesus has overcome the world. And as we choose to live in this abiding, we, too, will be overcomers.