There are many profound and yet perplexing things about this text. The wonderful things Jesus says have to be matched by wondering what He means. Can we really get what we ask for? Can we really be full of joy? Can a real branch be cut off? The truth is that we can get real twisted by this text, and the depths of this text are an ongoing treasure to be discovered. We can be sure that abiding in Christ is the point, and to abide means to remain.
These words of Jesus are proof that we cannot simply rely on a few moments of inspiration and devotional reading here and there if we are to really grow as God wants us to. We cannot simply skim the surface, we have to stay with it; we have to dive into the depths if we want to reach the heights. Keeping His commandments, loving one another, and bearing fruit to the glory of God as real disciples and friends of Jesus, this means that we have to have a real attachment to Him.
There are so many great promises in the Word of God to get a hold of, but in grabbing hold we need to be aware of something. These things are not so much about having a tool as it is about becoming a tool. The Bible is a tool, yes, but it is a tool designed to make us a tool in God’s hands much more so than it is a tool in our hands. And again, to abide means to remain, that is, we become the tool over time.
Jesus gives us the characteristics of authentic branches. They bear the fruit of Christ’s character, living through God’s Word and prayer. They want to obey God’s commandments and they love other Christians. The idea is not about imperatives, but indicatives. In other words, it is not that if we stay in touch with Him we can use these promises like a tool. No, it is that abiding in Him turns you into His tool, and these promises become our experience.
There is a difference between abiding and appearing. People can seem real, sound real, and simulate the real. The test is that when they are pruned back, do they grow back?