John 15:9-17

As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; 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. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. John 15:9-17

“Abide” is not a word that we use in normal conversation. I doubt I have ever used the word in either written or oral communication. In that, it is a “special” word. If I hear it, I will automatically think of these images from the gospel of John and the hymn, “Abide With Me”.

The word could be translated as “wait in” or “stay in” or “remain in” or even “continue in”, but the NRSV uses “abide.” I like it. Abide is a special word. If we slow down upon reading it, we have to think about its meaning. If we would have started our reading with John 15:1 we would have passed through John 15:5, “I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.”

Read that verse slowly to and some new insights begin to emerge.

We are always quick to turn the Christian faith into something that we HAVE TO DO, or some way that we HAVE TO BE (whether or not we ever get around to actually so doing or being). This is so ingrained in us that we come away from today’s reading thinking that all Jesus is really saying is commanding us to love one another.

If we only go there, we miss the heart of the matter.

Jesus tells us here that we are as connected to him as a vine to its branches. He tells us that he loves us. That he has chosen us. That we can consider ourselves his friends. He wants us to know joy, not just to give us a job. And he assures us that we will bear fruit that will last. Not because of our innate fruit-bearing capacities but solely as we channel his love into the world around us.

This text is full of promise. Let’s its words sink into our souls today. Let them come back to us again and again and again through the moments of our day. Live in that connection and celebrate the fruit that emerges. Abide in it. (There, I used the word.)

Let us pray: Dear Jesus, you are the vine, we are the branches. We love because you first loved us. You chose us, we did not choose you. You have called us friends and so we are. You are the potter, we are the clay. May we keep this straight today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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One Response to “John 15:9-17”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    Abide in Him. We are as connected to God as a vine is to it’s branches. In Mark 12:30-31 God commands: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
    We can only attempt to follow these commands if we stay connected to God and continue to abide in Him and trust in Him.

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