What It Means to Abide in Christ
Somewhere between the upper room and Gethsemane, Jesus taught John 15-16 and prayed John 17. He began John 15 by saying: “I am the true vine,” just as the group likely passed through the temple gates. It was Passover, and the gates were open all night. These were beautiful, bronze gates with a golden vine metalwork woven throughout, representing the nation of Israel (see Psalm 80:8, 9 and Isaiah 5:1, 7).
Seeing this, Jesus says, “I am the true vine, the genuine vine.” Jesus’ words were revolutionary. He’s telling men whose roots run deep in the Old Testament that religion or nationality is not important anymore—you must be joined to Him.
Read John 15:1-10.
In this glorious passage, notice three important words. The first is the little word “in” (used seven times). “Every branch in me.” To be saved means to be “in Christ.” Notice also the word “fruit” (used six times) and “abide” (nine times). Abiding in Christ is how we bear fruit.
Fruit, of course, is God’s life showing up in a believer. The fruit of God’s Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering (see Galatians 5:22-23). Other fruit is effective prayer (v. 7), continuous fruit (v. 11), and joy celestial—if a person has this fruit in their life, they will invite people into God’s presence by their very lives, if not also by their spoken word.
When a branch in Christ does not bear fruit, the Father trims it off either by setting it aside or by death. This doesn’t mean we lose our salvation, since we’re talking about fruit-bearing here, not eternal life. Even if a branch bears fruit, the Father may prune it so it bears even more. Sometimes it hurts when He takes out of our lives what hinders us, but in the end it means more fruit.
The Father also cleanses us through the supernatural power of His Word. The only way to abide in Him is to allow Him to cleanse us daily and to continue in His love. This means constant communion with God—at your kitchen sink, in the car, at the office, and on the street.
It’s our choice whether we abide in Christ. We can break our fellowship by allowing sin in our lives, by stepping out of God’s will, and by worldliness.
Jesus laid down His life for us and asks us to obey Him. When we do, we’ll be His friends. The world won’t be our friend, since it can’t love a real child of God. The world instead loves darkness. When the Lord turns on the light, the rats and the snakes and the bugs run for cover. They hate the light and the One who turns it on.
Jesus said all these things to comfort and strengthen the disciples on their way to the Garden of Gethsemane and the greatest test of their lives.
Next, why it was better for Jesus to leave.