Read This Week’s Passage: John 15:1–17

The Intimacy of the Invitation

At His last supper with His disciples, Jesus ascribed new meaning to the Passover elements. He consecrated the bread as a symbol of His body, about to be broken for the world. He consecrated the cup as a symbol of His blood of “the covenant” (Matt. 26:28, NIV; Mark 14:24, NIV)/the “new covenant” (Luke 22:20)/the “everlasting covenant” (Heb. 13:20), which ratified His covenant(s) with humanity.

After supper, He shared with them His “last words” (John 13:31–16:33), repeating His main themes numerous times for emphasis: His command to love one another as He had loved them; the severe challenges they would face; assurances that their prayers would be heard and answered; His promise that the Holy Spirit would be sent to represent His unseen Presence with them and in them; and His pledge to one day return in glory to take them to be with Him forever.

Among His other themes that night was His invitation, which would, by its very nature, be extended anew every day to them and to every believer thereafter. Their faithfulness to the covenant and their reception of all that it promises would depend on their response to His invitation; it remains the same today.

The invitation: “Abide in Me, and [‘as,’ NIV; the Greek allows for either] I in you. . . . For without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:4, 5, NKJV).

The Greek root menō is variously translated “abide,” “dwell,” “remain,” “stay,” “continue.” Used 118 times in the New Testament, its common use refers to a person “dwelling”/“abiding”/“living” (Matt. 10:11) somewhere, or to something “remaining”/“continuing” in a certain place or condition (Acts 5:4). John uses it 55 times, often with theological meaning. Significantly, its most concentrated use, ten times in seven verses, occurs in John 15:4–10! Jesus was emphasizing something here!

With “the covenant,” which He was about to ratify with His blood, still fresh in His mind, He invites the disciples, and all subsequent believers, to “abide”/“dwell”/“live”/“remain” in Him. Not just to “abide with” but to “abide in” Him! That connotes an intimacy beyond human experience. Not to be misunderstood, it almost sounds like a description that might apply to relationships within the Trinity rather than between humans. But then, covenantal love brought Jesus down from heavenly life to human life. While He was here in His fully human form, He was not content to relate merely with His Father, but chose to live “in” Him, and for His Father to live “in” Jesus. He testified, “You, Father, are in Me, and I in You” (John 17:21, NKJV, emphasis supplied), for “the Son can do nothing of Himself” (John 5:19; cf. v. 30). And He wanted to continue that same relationship “in” His followers and they “in” Him ever after (John 17:20–23) even as He had lived in His Father and His Father in Him while He lived here.

Welcome to the invitation . . . from Jesus . . . to you!