1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2Every 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. 3Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide 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. 5I 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. 6If 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. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. 21But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
26 “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. 27And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
1 “I have said all these things to you to keep you from falling away. 2They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, the hour is coming when whoever kills you will think he is offering service to God. 3And they will do these things because they have not known the Father, nor me.4But I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you. “I did not say these things to you from the beginning, because I was with you.  John 15:1-27; John 16:1-4

Jesus is on the move, leading his disciples from the upper room, from their shared meal, into the darkness of the night. As they follow him, he talks. He teaches. He warns.

As we walk through the dark streets of Jerusalem, I feel like I am running, like I cannot quite keep up with him. But it is his litany of words with which I cannot keep up. He has so much he wants to say and so little time left to say it all.

As he speaks, I feel as if I am collecting rare gems. Kernels of truth that I hide away in my heart so that they can take root in me. So that they are there when the Helper comes and he can draw them out of me when I need them.

Because I will need them. Often. These words. These truths. These reminders. I will need them.

I will need them as I walk through this world as a stranger. A sojourner.

I will need them as my heavenly Father prunes away the deadness of my efforts to live as part of this world without loving this world. Without loving the people in this world.

I will need them when I am rebuffed, hated, judged by this world because of my relationship, my friendship, with Jesus.

I will need them when I would rather serve myself then serve others.

I will need them.

And so I hide them in my heart.

And I ponder them. As my feet scrape along the dusty streets of Jerusalem behind Jesus, I ponder them. What does it mean to lay down my life for my friends? What does it mean to be a servant? What does it mean to bear fruit?

bearing fruit by abiding in Jesus {photo credit: Odan Jaeger on stock.xchng}
bearing fruit by abiding in Jesus
{photo credit: Odan Jaeger on stock.xchng}

What does it mean to abide in Jesus? To abide in his love?

Those are the words that stop me in my tracks. Those are the words that take my breath away here on the darkened streets of Jerusalem.

Even as Jesus moves toward the cross, toward his death, he offers me life. He offers me joy, his joy, abundant and full, spilling over into every part of my life. He offers me love. And he invites me to abide there. To abide in him.

And I take him up on his offer even before I understand fully what it means. What it will look like.

What does it look like to abide in the love of Jesus? What does it look like to abide in Jesus?

Clearly, if I abide in Jesus, there will be fruit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Clearly, these are possible only as one conforms to the character of Christ.

Clearly, if I abide in Jesus, I will defer to him. When I am faced with a choice or a decision, I will consider what love would do. I will consider what a servant would do.

Clearly, if I abide in Jesus, I will dwell with him. I will stay with him. I will live in this world, but I will dwell with Christ. I will live as a citizen of heaven. I will live as a sojourner.

Clearly, if I abide in Jesus, I will follow him.

Just as I follow him now, through the streets of Jerusalem, to the Mount of Olives, to the Upper Room, to the Garden of Gethsemane, to the cross.

I will follow him. I will listen to him. I will draw near to him. I will be still. I will proclaim him. I will love him.

I will love him.

I will lay down my life for him.

I will lay down my life so that I may have his. So that I may abide in him.

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