Lucy Blog

Meditating Verse by Verse: John 15:4a

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

Remain in me…I also remain in you.

When first looking at this verse I was frustrated!  It’s a verse that I’ve heard so many times, and I think it’s pretty easy to find some meaning in it.  However, when I took a deeper look, I found the phrasing of the first sentence to be difficult to understand.  Jesus being in me, I can comprehend that.  He lives in my heart, I have the Holy Spirit inside to help me, etc.  However, if Jesus is in me, how can I be in Jesus?  What does it mean???

We say, “the ball is in the bucket”, but not simultaneously, “the bucket is in the ball”.  One goes into the other, at the exclusion of the other going into the one.  If the ball is in the bucket, then the bucket cannot be in the ball.  But Jesus is telling us to be in Him, as He is in us.  If He says it, then it must be possible, but I had such a hard time wrapping my brain around that image!

When I think of Jesus in me, I think of Him descending down into an unworthy person like me, for my benefit.  But that concept doesn’t go the other way—Jesus doesn’t need me in His heart for His benefit!  He could have said “remain in my presence, as I also remain in you”, or “follow my teachings, as I also remain in you”, but He didn’t!  He said, “Remain IN me”. 

But then, in my mind I saw an empty jar being submerged into water.  The water is in the jar, and the jar is in the water!  I don’t know if you ever have those moments of clarity where you suddenly understand something, but I just thought, “Whoa!  Okay, Lord, show me more!”  If you take that jar out of the water, keeping it upright, then water will remain in the jar.  But the jar is no longer in the water. 

Jesus can be in us.  We could have welcomed Him into our hearts to dwell, and been submerged in Baptism.  We can have a belief that leads to salvation, but then choose to not be immersed in Him anymore.  We can choose to reject His presence and stop surrounding ourselves with His teachings and wisdom. 

But Jesus says, “Remain in me”.  He doesn’t want to settle for just being in us, He wants us to be immersed in His love, goodness, mercy, and wisdom.  Do you know what happens to a jar of water that is left on the counter?  As dust and impurities fall into it, it becomes stagnant.  Additionally, the dry atmosphere will begin to evaporate the water, and the water level will keep dropping unless it is taken back to the source and refilled.

Conversely, a vessel that remains in a stream of living water will remain full of water, and fully surrounded by water.  We can remain in Jesus, as He remains in us.

But again, now that we see it is possible to remain in Jesus as He remains in us, what does that mean on a practical level?  To remain in something means to choose be surrounded by it.  We must choose to seek Jesus’ presence through prayer, reading the Bible, and obeying His commands.  He wants us to be immersed in, and overwhelmed by, who He is. 

As.

“Remain in me, AS I also remain in you.”  This word, “as”, gives us a critical reminder.  Jesus did not say “SO that I will remain in you”.  He chooses to remain in us, even when we do not remain in Him.  Once we have let Him in, He remains in us.  “As” is such a valuable word in this verse because it reminds us that, just as we did nothing to earn salvation, Jesus doesn’t just leave us because we choose to disobey and not remain in Him.  We do not dictate where He chooses to reside, and we cannot impact or change His nature.  If He says He will remain in us, then we cannot escape that.  We can, however, choose to be immersed in things that are not of Him.  We can choose to surround ourselves with earthly things instead of Jesus.  But we do not have the authority to choose where Jesus says He will be.

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

Conclusion:

Our bodies are vessels.  As Christians, we have opened our hearts for Jesus to dwell in us.  He will remain in us, but will we be disciplined enough to remain in Him?  I encourage you to think and pray about what you are immersing yourself in.  What you have allowed to surround you.  Is it Jesus?  Or do you need to go back to the Source of living water, and remain there, as He remains in you?

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