Last Sunday we ended 2017 with a reflection upon how God has been speaking to us as a congregation through the past year of sermons at Forest Brook. As part of the service, Yvonne Ford led us through a time of listening, rooted in the words of Jesus from John 15:1-11. She asked us to listen for the Spirit to prompt us with a word from the text, and then to reflect upon that through a series of questions. Finally, she asked us to share with one another what that word was for us before leaving church that morning.
Several people shared their word from the Spirit with me after the service and I noted that each of them had received the same word, which led to the same question. The word was “abide”, and the question was, “What did Jesus really mean when he said, ‘Abide in me’?” I wondered if there were others in the congregation who were prompted in the same way. In case there were, here are some further insights into the word, “abide”.
The word John used in the original language was meno, which translates to mean “to remain”. However, it has a whack-load of nuanced meanings, based upon the context in which it is used. When it’s used in reference to a place, it means “do not depart, continue to be present”. When used in reference to time, it means “to continue, to endure, or to last”. It can also be used in reference to a condition or state of being, in which case it means, “to remain as one and not be different, or to await.”
Jesus uses this word to tell us that we are to remain in him just as he remains in us (vs. 4) and also that we are to remain in his love just as the Father’s love has remained in him (vs. 9). If we consider the possible nuanced meanings we can get a fuller picture of what Jesus was saying. Remember that context is super important! Here is Jesus, on the night he was to be betrayed, giving his parting words to his disciples. These were the things he wanted them never to forget.
In essence, Jesus was reminding them that they were one with him, just as he was with the Father. They needed to remember to stay connected with him! They needed to continue in his presence, to endure with him to the very end and to continue to be united with him. He was reminding him that he was the source of everything they needed to be all that the Father desired them to be. Their focus was to be on staying in the Presence of the Source!
What I love about this passage is the emphasis on relationship, and just how intimately we are to be connected to Jesus. How he loves us! And how much he wants to give us everything we need to live a fruitful life! If this was your word on Sunday, be encouraged! Perhaps the Spirit is prompting you to make drawing closer to Jesus a renewed focus in your life this year. What a wonderful resolution that would be!