John 15:1-11: Abiding in Christ

Read: John 15:1-11

Jesus wants the joy of his disciples to be complete – that is perfected, lacking in nothing such that there is no wanting for more joy than they could possibly find in anything else other than Jesus. Before declaring that Jesus wants their joy to be complete though, he tells them how to make their joy complete, and it is found in nothing other than abiding in Jesus.

The night before Jesus was sent to the cross Jesus was spending time with the ones that were closest to him, the disciples. The disciples had just spent the last three years of their lives living, eating, working, and being with Jesus practically all the time. In this time, Jesus taught them numerous things and undoubtedly had grown close to all them. When Jesus tells them that he is going away to be with the Father, their hearts are grieved. To console them Jesus tells them among many things that he goes to prepare a place for them, that he will return (John 14:1-6), that he will be with them by way of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16-26), and that they would be able to do great things in his name (John 14:7-15). After he departed from that room where they were, Jesus tells them that they must abide him because he is the vine and they are the branches, and that the one who abides in the branches bears much fruit.  Interestingly, the emphasis is not on bearing fruit, rather on abiding in the vine, and it is through abiding the disciples were to bear fruit (John 15:1-17). The Bible mentions several two kinds of fruits: the harvest of souls (Matthew 13:1-23) and the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). The harvest of souls is the spiritual progeny that comes from sharing the gospel and fruit of the Spirit is moral purity that comes from living according to God’s standards. These things, however, are not the result of the efforts of man, but the works of God working in his Spirit through man. More often than not, Christians get caught so caught up in in trying to bear fruit that we forget to abide in the vine and such people wither in the same manner as a branch disconnected from the vine, which cannot bear fruit. The responsibility of Christians is to stay connected to the vine so that he may bear fruit, but the one who attempts to bear fruit without abiding in the vine will accomplish nothing.

The Greek word translated “abide” is “μείνατε” which by itself means carries the implication of remaining and dwelling. Also it is in the aorist imperative tense, meaning that the disciples were being commanded to currently and continuously abide in the Christ. Given this and the fact the Jesus repeated it over and over gives one the impression that this was really important! Abiding in Christ is a quintessential part of the life of every Christian. To continuously abide in Christ, one needs to be in a constant relationship with Christ, speaking to and hearing from hear. Jesus speaks through his word and we speak to him through prayer and we show that we love him by doing what he tells us to do in his word (John 14:15)!

Lord, help me to abide in you every day all the time!

John 4:27-42

Read John 4:27-42

Jesus talking to a Samaritan woman of questionable reputation caused the disciples returning from the town to “marvel”. Jesus’ conversation with the woman was undoubtedly a cultural taboo if there ever was one – perhaps even more so here because the disciples thought Jesus was trying to solicit her.  Jesus often associated with people of low standing society. When Jesus called Matthew to be his disciple, the Pharisees raised eyebrows at him, asking him why he associated with sinners. Jesus says that it is the sick that need a doctor, not the healthy. Jesus calls sinners to repentance, not the righteous (Matthew 9:9-13). He was overcoming cultural taboos and reaching out to the ones who need forgiveness the most. In any case, the woman was amazed by Jesus, and she left her water pot and went back to the city to tell about what she had heard from Jesus and they came out to see him.

As the people were coming out, the disciples offered the food that they purchased. Jesus, in typical fashion, uses the common to communicate spiritual truths that confuses his audience. He says his food is to do the will of the one who sent him and accomplish the one’s work. John 5:36 says that Jesus was sent by the father and Jesus explains in John 3:16-18 that his mission was to save the world. Jesus looks out at the ones coming to see him. He declares that they are the harvest. Unlike a natural harvest, a spiritual harvest is not something that is formulaic or even timely in season. Jesus says he had sent them to reap what they did not labor, and they enter into the labor of another, perhaps a reference to what the prophets and John the Baptist before had done. Paul expounds on this in 1 Corinthians 3:4-9 when he is resolving the conflict. The argument is that is does not matter who sowed and who harvested, it is God who gives the growth. This is demonstrably shown when the crowds come to Jesus and see him for themselves. They tell the woman that it is not because of her that they believe, but that they have seen for themselves that Jesus is the savior of the world. Jesus stayed there for two more days before returning to Galilee.

The Samaritan woman probably did not wake up the morning she met Jesus thinking that she was going to be instrumental in her village coming to faith in Jesus, but the Samaritan woman met the Messiah, and she went and told others, who came and met the Messiah. She was a fellow laborer in harvest, much like every Christian alive today.  The Lord of the Harvest is Christ, and Christians the sowers and reapers. In any case, it is God who gives growth. It is enough that Christians do the will of the Father as Jesus did, because spiritual harvests can come in and out of season. It is not the job of Christians to decide who can and can’t come to Christ – that’s God’s job. For this reason, Christians should be willing to break cultural norms and go to the hard places to tell people about him. The personal witness one person can draw people to Jesus, but it is even more awesome when a person encounters Jesus for themselves and believes in him!

Lord, I’m a worker in your harvest. Help me to concern myself with my task and not about things I have no control over!