When We Abide
Yesterday, on “Good Friday”, we remembered the darkest day in history: the day that Jesus the Messiah was beaten for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities; the day our savior was hung on a cross to die, his disciples scattered, women weeping, and a tomb ahead to be laid in.
Tomorrow, we celebrate Resurrection Sunday, commonly known as “Easter '': to remember and celebrate the moment when the stone at Jesus’ tomb was rolled away and it was found that He rose from the dead, defeating death, hell, and the grave.
But today… What is there?
As I read the accounts of Jesus’ death and resurrection, I’m always so moved by the moment Jesus cries out to God on the cross in Matthew 27:
41 So also the chief priests, with the scribes and elders, mocked him, saying, 42 “He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him. For he said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 And the robbers who were crucified with him also reviled him in the same way.
45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour. 46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
In this moment, we know that God did not forsake Jesus. Jesus Himself was God, which tells us that He knew the plan; He knew that He would be raised from the dead in just three days. This cry from Jesus tells us two things: 1. Just how badly Jesus suffered for our freedom and 2. Jesus can empathize with us when we feel like God is far away in a hard season.
I often wonder what it was like to be a disciple of Jesus during His time on earth, and how “forsaken” and confused they felt when Jesus was crucified. The bible tells us that they all scattered and hardly believed it when they heard Jesus rose from the dead. But, because the mercy of Jesus is so great, Jesus taught the disciples this truth just before He left for the cross:
John 15:1-9:“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 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. 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. 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. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.”
Jesus is the true vine; the branch can only produce from within it. Before Jesus teaches us how to abide, He tells us where: in Him. Jesus is the one true vine. If we want to bear fruit for Jesus, we cannot abide in our family… our friends… our identity/purpose… or even His church.
And it’s a beautiful promise really, because He says: “abide in me, and I in you”.
It's mutual abiding. When we choose to abide in Jesus, He abides IN us. It is an intimacy my mind can barely fathom.
Jesus was teaching this concept to His disciples just before being arrested and began the journey of death and resurrection. I can only imagine the magnitude and depth of this teaching to the disciples in Jesus’ day that He would be IN them, even in his “absence”. Jesus took the time to assure His disciples of His continued connection and relationship with them… that He would never forsake them… but reminded them that they had a part to play in it, too.
There is a promise and a price!
We cannot produce anything outside of Jesus; just as a branch can produce nothing without drawing from its vine, we cannot produce nothing when we are not in Him.
Jesus even goes so far as to say the branch that produces nothing of kingdom value is tossed aside to be burned. Without Jesus, our life can have no real meaning or purpose. It’s important to remember that not abiding in Jesus as He commanded has a price.
But the promise: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you” (7).
Just before His departure, Jesus leaves the disciples (us!) with the key to unlocking one of the most important tools in our christian walk: how to see our prayers answered. Jesus lays it out simply: if we will abide IN Him, allowing His word to abide in our hearts, we can use Jesus name with the authority He paid for and see our prayers answered.
But it begs the question: how do we abide in Jesus?
John 15:9-11: “Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
We abide in Jesus by keeping His commandments and loving one another. Abiding in a choice. We must discipline in our life to stay in Him and keep His commandments. The evidence of abiding in Jesus is fruit that will last.
So… you want to see answered prayer?
It is directly tied to your obedience to His commandments. The only way to fully abide in (and fully love) Jesus is to obey what He said to do.
Are you loving one another as HE loves?
Are you laying down your life in inconvenience for another?
Are you coming together in communion with the body of Christ?
Are you serving His body (His church)? (Remember that Jesus modeled serving when He knelt down to wash his disciples feet… so before you say “yes”, ask yourself if you are truly serving the church to this extent).
Too often we are too stuck on God “not doing something for us” when really, He is probably waiting on you to abide.
Jesus NEVER leaves us or forsakes us…but He does expect something of us.
Let us pray: Father, forgive me for continually asking for my needs without asking what YOU need from ME. I repent of this, and turn now to Your heart. Thank you for your promise to abide in me as I in you; please help me to know your commandments more fully. Thank you for the promise of answered prayer, for your sacrifice on the cross, and for the authority you paid for. Please help me to live a life worthy of the price that you paid. I love You, Lord. Amen.
Written by Elizabeth Bachtold