Learning To Abide
Read: John 15:1-11
Trans: I have lived a lot of places.
1. I born in a suburb outside Los Angeles
2. By the time I was six months old, I was living on Catalina Island while my dad worked to feed the Chicago Cubs during Spring Training.
3. We then moved to Sacramento – where we lived in at least seven different locations.
4. I never learned to abide – we were always moving.
5. But then I hear John tell me to abide in Christ and He in me.
6. I needed some help to understand what it meant to abide. One way that I did that was to understand how scripture uses the word.
T.S. One of those words that John uses frequently in both his gospel and in his first epistle is the “abide” or, more accurately, the Greek word “meno”. The word is rich in meaning – and I want to spend a few minutes looking at several of its definitions.
I. Definition #1: To Stay or Remain
A. We occasionally ask this question – “Where are you staying?”
B. Jesus was asked exactly that question early in his ministry.
C. The story is found in the first chapter of John.
John the Baptist is preaching. Jesus is there listening as well as two friends of John the Baptist – including Andrew, the brother of Peter. John the Baptist, as he was preaching saw Jesus; and, recognizing who he was, said, “Behold, the Lamb of God!”
Now those two friends of John heard that and they started following Jesus – they stayed back a ways. Jesus did not see them immediately – but when he did he asked, “What are you seeking?”
Now these two were caught off guard – they had no idea, yet, what they were seeking, so they turned the question on Jesus, “Where are you staying?” Jesus, at least, replied to their question, “Come and you will see.”
And they did – scripture puts it this way, they “saw where he was staying and they stayed with him.” The next day, Andrew went and found his brother Peter and told him they had found the Messiah. And with that introduction, Peter's life would never be the same.
D. But did you hear it – three times the verb “stay” was used in the story as found in John's gospel. Each time it is the same word – the Greek word “meno” It means to stay or to remain.
E. Let me suggest two lessons for us –
1. Jesus stays – he is one of the constants of scripture. He is God – and God never changes. We may change, we may move away from God or grow closer to God; but God, but Jesus never changes – he stays the same. “Where are you staying?” His answer, in one sense, never changed, he is right here.
2. Second, it is important to note that staying with Jesus takes action. The two disciples, in order to stay with Jesus, had to follow Him. For the believer, staying with Jesus is not necessarily restful – it takes faith, an active faith to follow Jesus.
F. Meno means to stay – Jesus will do his part, are we willing to do ours?
II. Definition #2: To Wait For
A. But, as I said, the Greek word meno is rich in meanings. In addition to meaning “to stay”, it also means “to wait for” something.
B. We have all had to wait – to see the doctor, in a grocery story check out line, for that special TV program to start – and if we spoke Greek, it would be meno that we would be doing.
C. It is used this way primarily in the Old Testament – but twice in the book of Acts, Dr. Luke uses the word this way. In Acts 20:5 Luke tells us that two of his friends, fellow disciples, were waiting for him in near Troy in Greece.
D. Waiting is one of hardest things I need to do. I want others to work at my speed.
(lll.) Maybe I need to take the words of this poem to heart:
Waiting! Yes, patiently waiting!
Till next steps made plain shall be;
To hear, with the inner hearing,
The Voice that will call for me.
Waiting! Yes, quietly waiting!
No need for an anxious dread;
Shall He not assuredly guide me,
Who giveth me daily bread?
Waiting! Yes, hopefully waiting!
With hope that needn’t grow dim;
The Master is pledged to guide me,
And my eyes are unto Him.
Waiting! Yes, expectantly waiting!
Perhaps it may be today
The Master will quickly open
The gate to my future way.
Waiting! Yes, trustfully waiting!
I know, though I’ve waited long,
That, while He withholds His purpose,
His waiting cannot be wrong.
Waiting! Yes, waiting, Still waiting!
The Master will not be late;
He knoweth that I am waiting
For Him to unlatch the gate.
E. We need to learn to wait on each other and to wait on God.
III. Definition #4: To Abide
A. Finally – this word means “to abide” or “to continue to live”
B. That is of course the is the word we hear most often “abide in Christ and He in you.”
C. It is translated this way almost 1/3 of the time – but every time we hear that word, “ABIDE”, we have a sense of all those other meanings as well.
D. “Abide in me and I in you”: “Stay in me and I in you” OR “Wait for me as I wait for you.”
(Ill.) There is no city in the world, perhaps, where the treasures of art are more appreciated than Florence, Italy. It is told that an American visitor to the Pitti Palace, after viewing some of the paintings there, said to his guide: “Are these the great masterpieces that everyone tells me about? I don’t see much in them to arouse such enthusiasm.” “It is not these paintings that are on trial sir,” the guide answered, “but it is you who view them.” So it is with the Word of God. Sometimes we run across scoffers, men who sneer at divine revelation, who say that they cannot feel much enthusiasm about the Bible. But the Bible is not on trial. Whether men believe it or not, it is the Word of God, to quote I Peter 1:23, “which liveth and abideth forever”.i
Conclusion: John has some specific things to teach us about what it means to abide in Christ. Today we learned what the word means – next week we will learn how Christ wants us to abide.