Word #70 – Remain
To stay, dwell, or live in a certain place
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. (John 15:4)
If you knew you were dying tomorrow, but got the chance to eat a final meal with your loved ones tonight…what sorts of things would you talk about?
I’m guessing you wouldn’t waste your waning moments on small talk. Rather than idle chitchat, you’d bring up important matters. You’d steer the conversation oh so carefully, knowing that last words are, as the old saying goes, lasting words.
This is, of course, what Jesus did on the night before His death. He spent His last few hours reminding His followers of the things that matter most. And one of His most urgent commands was, “Remain in me” (john 15:4; emphasis added).
The Greek word rendered “remain” means “to stay in a place.” In older versions of the Bible, it gets translated “abide.” We don’t say abide very often, if ever. It sounds old-fashioned. But perhaps you’ve visited a friend or relative who greeted you at the front door with the phrase,” Welcome to our humble abode!” An abode is a dwelling, a house, a place you live in. It’s where you abide.
That’s the timeless idea Jesus was communicating to His followers on His final night: “I want you to make your home here, with me, in me. I don’t want us to just be neighbors who occasionally wave to each other across the cul-de-sac. I don’t want you merely spending a few nights and then moving on. I want you to move in.”
Strong attachment, deep connection, intimacy-those are the ideas in the command to remain. To illustrate this, Jesus used an agricultural image we can appreciate even if we’ve never st foot insida vineyard. At harvest time, expect to find the intact branches on a healthy grapevine loaded with clusters of grapes. And on those grape branches that have been snapped or partially severed? Nothing. (At least nothing worth eating).
In our culture, everything feels temporary. Nothing seems like it remains. After thirty years, the quiet, dutiful husband up and leaves his stunned wife. The beloved old bistro up the street suddenly shuts its door. The star player bolts to a new team for bigger bucks (Fans should feel lucky the entire team didn’t move away to a bigger city.)
this is the restless era in which we find ourselves. The thought of remaining sometimes feels like an anchor, like it’s keeping us from something better. Not true.
On His last night, Jesus used His final words to tell His followers (then and now), “Remain in me. Unpack your bags and settle in. You won’t find life anywhere else. Live in me and let me live in you. If you do, you’ll blossom and bless others like never before.”
And if we don’t?
What did Jesus mean when He told His followers to “remain in me” (John 15:4)?