According to Jesus – Without Doing This, You and I can Accomplish NOTHING. What is it?! #86
Most of the time I apologize for it when I have a click-baity title, but not this time. This time, I’m almost proud. You know what click-bait is, right? It is a title to an article that somebody shares on social media, or is an ad on a website that is worded so that you click on it. Maybe you’ve seen some of these ads – my least favorite are the ones that show what appears to be a disgusting skillet full of boiled bananas and a caption like, “gut surgeons say – don’t eat this one vegetable.” OR – “Gut surgeons say to eat this one vegetable to be regular,” Or something like that. Well, on today’s podcast, I am actually going to tell you the real and ultimate hidden Levitical secret code for being regular every day, and it is found in the book of Exlaxodus, chapter 2. Okay. I’m not proud of that joke. I apologize. Day six of shelter in place has got me so worked up, that my comedy material has sunk to new lows. More seriously, I would urge you to pray for each other, and pray for me and pray for all believers as we go through these scary times. If there is a way I can pray for you, please reach out and leave a comment at Biblereadingpodcast.com – it would be a privilege to lift you up in prayer, and a great encouragement knowing that you are praying for my family of seven hunkered down in Salinas, California.
Today’s Bible readings include Exodus 36. Proverbs 12, John 15 and Ephesians 5. Our focus passage for the day remains in John, and we are looking at a critically important teaching of Jesus. There are a lot of important passages in the Bible, and a lot of important teachings of Jesus, but I want to be really clear that this one, in particular is crucial. Consider the way that Jesus talks about this passage. Getting the truth of it means that you will bear much fruit, which shows that you are a follower of Jesus. Not walking in the truth of it puts you in danger of being the kind of branches that are gathered up and tossed into the fire. Not only that, but walking in the truth of this passage opens up a deeper, richer and more effective prayer life, as Jesus says that following His teaching here is a critical key to having answered prayers. So – enough dancing around it. What is this key teaching of Jesus? It is simply this: To ABIDE in Him like a branch that is connected to the grapevine. (ESV, NASB, KJV) To REMAIN in Him (CSB). To STAY JOINED to Him. (CEV) The word picture is that we are a branch grafted into the vine. Just like a branch removed from a vine rooted in the earth will NOT bear any fruits, so we will not bear any fruits with our lives if we are not rooted and grounded in Jesus the true vine. Let’s read the passage, and come back and discuss it.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 Every branch in me that does not produce fruit he removes, and he prunes every branch that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me and I in him produces much fruit, because you can do nothing without me. 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown aside like a branch and he withers. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples.John 15:1-8
John is not the only place in the Bible that discusses our relationship with Jesus using a kind of garden metaphor. Colossians 2 and Ephesians 3 also do the same thing:
Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.Colossians 2:7 New Living Translation
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.Ephesians 3:14=19
The one big question that should occur to us, upon seeing the importance of abiding is – HOW?! How do we abide in Jesus? I think the answer is given to us in verse 7, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want and it will be done for you ” In order for us to abide in Jesus, HIS WORDS MUST FILL US – live in us, dwell in us. We must go to the Bible daily and more so that the Words of our master dwell in our hearts through faith. In doing this, we remember that – somehow, someway – Jesus is THE WORD. When we are reading and meditating on His teachings, we aren’t just interacting with words, but WORDS – THE WORD!
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the WORD WAS GOD.John 1:1
When we abide in the Words of Jesus – we are abiding in Jesus! But we don’t just learn the Words of Jesus – we must be DOERS of His Word. Ponder well John 14:23-24 from yesterday – meditate on it.
23 Jesus answered, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 The one who doesn’t love me will not keep my words. The word that you hear is not mine but is from the Father who sent me.John 14:23-24
And now let’s close with a word from our beloved brother Spurgeon:
“Do not merely find a temporary shelter in me, as a ship runs into harbour in stormy weather, and then comes out again when the gale is over; but cast anchor in me, as the vessel does when it reaches its desired haven. Be not as branches that are tied on, and so can be taken off, but be livingly joined to me. ‘Abide in me.’ ”As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can you, except you abide in me.
You must bear fruit, or else be cast away; but you cannot bear any fruit except by real union and constant communion with Jesus Christ your Lord.
“I am the vine, you are the branches: he that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings forth much fruit: for without me you can do nothing. “Not merely will you do very little, but you can do nothing at all if you are severed from Christ. You are absolutely and entirely dependent upon Christ both for your life and for your fruit-bearing. Do we not wish to have it so, beloved? It is the beginning principle of apostasy when a man wishes to be independent of Christ in any degree, when he says, “Give me the portion of goods that is owed to me. that I may have something in hand, some spending money of my own,” No; you must, from day to day, from hour to hour, and even from moment to moment, derive life, light, love, everything that is good, from Christ. What a blessing that it is so!
“If a man abides not in Jesus, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” There is a sad future in store for tares, according to another parable; but, somehow, there is a much sadder lot reserved for those that were, in some sense, branches of the vine,—those who made a profession of faith in Christ, though they were never vitally united to him; those who for a while did run well, yet were hindered. What was it that hindered them that they should not obey the truth? Oh, it is sad indeed that any should have had any sort of connection with that divine stem, and yet should be cast into the fire!
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you shall ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you.” Do not think that all men can pray alike effectually, for it is not so. There are some whom God will hear, and some whom God will not hear. And there are some even of his own children, whom he will hear in things absolutely vital and essential, to whom he never gave carte blanche after this fashion: “Ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” No if you will not hear God’s words, he will not hear yours; and if his words do not abide in you, your words shall not have power with him. They may be directed to heaven, but the Lord will not listen to them so as to have regard unto them. Oh, it needs very tender walking for one who would be mighty in prayer! You shall find that those who have had their will at the throne of grace are men who have done God’s will in other places; it must be so. The greatest favourite at court will have a double portion of the jealousy of his monarch, and he must be specially careful that he orders his steps aright, or else the king will not continue to favour him as he was wont to do. There is a sacred discipline in Christ’s house, a part of which consists in this, that, as our obedience to our God declines, so will our power in prayer decrease at the same time.
C. H. Spurgeon, “The Last Words of Christ on the Cross,” in The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit Sermons, vol. 45 (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1899), 504.