25 August 2017

John 15:7-17

“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (vv. 7-8)

Psalm: Psalm 68:1-20


There is one key word which is used often in John chapters 14 and 15 which is particularly important in today's passage - that is the word 'meno' which is translated 'abide' in verse , but in other places is translated 'dwell' or 'make a home'. To understand what Jesus means by "abide in my love" it is worth noticing the other ways in which the idea of dwelling is mentioned in John's Gospel.

John 1:14 introduces Jesus ministry by saying that God came and dwelt among us. The word used there is not 'meno', but one which specifically implies dwelling in a tent (possibly recalling the tabernacle or tent of meeting in the Old Testament). The idea, however, is the same. In Jesus, God made God's home among us.

This verse is part of a speech which begins in chapter 14 with the promise of 'dwelling places' being prepared for us with the Father (John 14:1-4). The idea then runs like a thread through the rest of the speech, see for example John 14:10, 11, 17; 15:4, 6 ,7. In our reading for today see verses 7, 10.

Put all these verses together and you get a golden thread of God abiding with us in Jesus, Jesus abiding in the Father and the Father in Jesus, Jesus and the Spirit abiding in us and us abiding in Jesus. It can feel confused and confusing but that thread matters when faced with a verse which could be read to say that we have to keep commandments in order to abide in God's love, rather than realising that keeping God's commandments is one aspect of abiding in God's love. Today's passage invites us to ponder the way in which love and the various ways in which we and Jesus dwell together are interlinked.

To Ponder

  • What does the idea of dwelling/home/abiding mean to you? What images does it call to mind?
  • For some people even home is not a safe place. How might the image of 'dwelling' be helpful to them?

Bible notes author

The Revd Judith Rossall

Judith Rossall is a Methodist tutor at Queen's Foundation in Birmingham. Before moving to Queen's, she was a circuit minister and taught at STETS in Salisbury.