By Harold Sala
If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. John 15:7
A dying man never says, “I wish I had spent more time at the office!” A man’s last words always come from his heart! They are sometimes harsh, sometimes sentimental, and sometimes provocative. But you never forget them. What Jesus shared with the twelve as they sat together in the Upper Room for the Feast of the Passover represented His last words. From there He went to the Mount of Olives, and from that time on, He never again had the informal opportunity to share His heart in quite the same manner.
You can read what He said in John chapters fourteen through sixteen. In this discourse Jesus made promises to the disciples about the future, and He said something which is so simple it almost certifies the obvious. Yet it is profound in a way that touches all of our experiences in life.
Here it is: “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7). Was He speaking only of Judas who would betray Him that very evening? Or of Peter who would stand outside the house of the high priest, and in response to the words of a maid, “Surely, you are one of them; your speech betrays you,” Peter would deny that He knew Christ not once but three times?
What does it mean to remain or abide in Christ? Lexicons tell us that the word means to live or dwell, to stay somewhere, to remain where you are. It was used of goods that remained in the hold of a ship, of someone who stayed on the same road until he reached his destination, of stones which were part of a wall which were not removed, and of someone who had been divorced and remained unmarried. Beginning to get the broader picture?
Judas, of course, didn’t remain in Christ. He betrayed His Lord. Demas, one of Paul’s companions, turned His back and walked away from the faith– “because he loved the world,” explained Paul. He didn’t remain in Christ. Some whom Peter wrote about also didn’t remain in Christ. “False teachers” was Peter’s accusation, “denying the sovereign Lord who bought them.” Of them Peter said, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them” (2 Peter 2:21). Put them on the list of those who didn’t remain in Christ.
What does it mean in the context of life today? Think about these. You don’t remain in Christ when you embrace teaching which violates what Jesus said. This includes cults and any religion that denies what Jesus did. You don’t remain in Christ when you ignore His teaching, when you willfully do wrong, when you distance yourselves from your brothers and sisters in Christ because you don’t want to be identified with them. You don’t remain in Christ when you ignore Him and stand aloof from issues of right and wrong. When you ask yourself the question, “What would Jesus do?” and you fail to do that yourself, you’re not remaining in Him.
A final thought. Jesus linked remaining in Him to the promise of answered prayer. The full text says, “If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you” (John 15:7). Simply put if you want Him to stand with you when the going’s tough, better stay on the team, walking in sync with the one who fought the battle and won. Remaining in Him is the key to spiritual life as His words remain within your heart and give you life day by day.
Resource reading:John 15:1-8.