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. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. -John 15:4-8
Even a child knows that if you pick a flower from its main plant, it will soon wither and die. If you break a leafy branch from a tree, the leaves will soon wilt, and the branch will soon be ready for the fire. Jesus used that comparison to illustrate spiritual life. He is the central, rooted vine, through which flows all the water and nutrients the branches and fruit require. We are the branches. If you cut the branch from the main vine, it will wither and die quickly.
So, what does it mean to “abide” in Jesus… to remain “in” the vine? Jesus answered that when he said, “if you abide (remain) in me (attached to me), AND MY WORDS REMAIN IN YOU…” To remain in Jesus means to remain in his teachings. What is translated as “words” in our English version means more than just one or two words. It means the collected, assembled, joined teachings of Christ. No one or two words suffice to keep you in faith in Christ, but the entire collection of his teachings as contained in the Bible. The complete Gospel of salvation in Christ, with nothing missing, nothing added, is our sustaining connection to Christ every day.
That means that as disciples we constantly strengthen our connection to the vine by constantly growing and strengthening our knowledge of Christ’s teachings. As disciples we open ourselves to the teaching of God’s Word that we might receive Christ’s gift of strengthening our faith in him.
Satan tempts people to think that only a superficial, external connection to Christ, the vine, is sufficient. Superficial, external connections like membership in a church, or an occasional participation in church activities, or requesting official rites of the church like marriage, confirmation, funeral, etc. These external connections are of no use apart from the spiritual connection with Christ. Christ dwells in you through faith. You remain in Christ through faith. That connection is nurtured by Christ’s Word, his teachings, his Gospel which we read and study and inwardly digest as often as we can. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”
Lord God, Heavenly Father, grant us grace to remain in Christ, through the sustaining power of his Word. Make that Word of Christ a vibrant, constant part of our lives, that we might bear much fruit and truly be your disciples. Protect us from the tricks and traps of Satan, who only wants to separate us from Christ’s Word, weaken saving faith, and lead us to eternal destruction. Your Word stands victorious over Satan, and your Word in us makes us also victors over Satan. In Jesus’ name. Amen.