Jesus

At the time of His birth, the name was relatively common, about the same as it is in Hispanic cultures today. It comes from Ἰησοῦς (Iesous) which, in turn, comes from the common Hebrew name ישוע (yēšūă‘), a slightly simplified form of the name Joshua.

Names in the Bible often have significant meanings, especially this one. The angel Gabriel, when he told Mary she would bear a child, specifically told her to name the child Jesus. “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus.” (Luke 1:31)

The name means “salvation” and comes from the Hebrew verb meaning to rescue or deliver.

Joseph, too, was told to name the child Jesus. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and told him, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

There is an emphasis in the Greek of Matthew 1:21 that may not be clear in the English translation. It is not just that Jesus will save, it is that “He Himself” will save. In faith we receive this wonderful gift from Him, but salvation is accomplished completely and entirely by Him.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8,9)

Pray

The Bible has no single word for prayer. There are as many words for prayer as there are kinds of prayer. There is no single physical posture or location required for prayer. And, there are no special English words to be used only in prayer.

Prayer is communication with God. It may be done silently, alone, as a group of two or three or more, in private, or in public.

Some may think you more spiritual if your public prayer is long. Jesus never made long public prayers and warned about the practice (Mark 12:40). Don’t worry about someone else’s prayer. Just pray yourself.

In general, make your prayers like those of a child to a loving parent. And, expect your Father to know what’s best for you.

A word used many times in the New Testament for praying is προσεύχομαι (proseuchomai). It has the idea of direct prayer, a coming face-to-face with God Himself and speaking to Him and making requests for others and oneself in a hushed voice that He can hear because He is so close.

The Lord Jesus Christ did give a pattern prayer. I won’t quote it here, because you probably know it too well already. But, here is its pattern:

  1. Speak to God as your heavenly Father.
  2. Acknowledge who and what He is.
  3. Bend your will to His always and everywhere.
  4. Ask for your real needs to be supplied.
  5. Ask for your sins to be forgiven just as you forgive others.
  6. Seek deliverance from what tempts you.

Abide

“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also 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. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” (John 15:4–11)

This word, abide, is important. Jesus said:

  1. Abide in me
  2. Abide in My love
  3. Result: Joy

The reference to branches being cast into fire and burned is not talking about hell fire in eternity. It is simply describing what every gardener knows, that prunings are useless and are discarded or burned. Jesus said that apart from Him we can do nothing. He knows we do a lot in our lives when we are not thinking of Him. All of that is but nothing in his sight.

The word “abide” in the Greek of the New Testament is μένω (meno), the root of our English word, “remain.” In “remain,” the prefix “re-” is an intensifier, so the word means not just “stay,” but “you stay right here.”

A parent will often tell a child, “You stay right here with me,” because all children tend to wander off when they are drawn by something interesting elsewhere.

Jesus is saying here, “Don’t wander off. Stay right here with me. This is the place of fruitfulness, of answered prayer, where the Father is glorified, where there is proof you are a disciple, where there is love, where there is fulness of joy.”

Why would anyone leave such a blessed place? For the same reason the child wanders off. Having forgotten the parent’s words, the child is drawn by some distraction.

The secret to abiding in Christ is to keep your nose in the Bible. “If you abide in me and my words abide in you…” (verse 7), and, “If you keep My commandments you will abide in my love…” (verse 10).

These “commandments” are not the ten commandments of the Old Testament. As you read the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), watch for words of commandment from Jesus. You may be quite surprised about what He is ordering you to do. The commands continue in the rest of the New Testament through the words of the apostles.

In other words, if you want to abide in Jesus Christ, keep your nose in your Bible, paying attention to its words. As often as possible, do this with other believers.

The full secret is given in Acts 2:42, describing the practice of the early church: “They were continually devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.”