Happy Thursday! I’m running off to a Christmas get-together with friends. I hope you’re all hanging a great week!
We’re picking up in Chapter 5, with Jesus continuing to encourage his disciples. His time to be taken to the cross is near and they know they don’t have much longer to walk alongside him.
As always, the following chapter was taken from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. Jesus’ words are in red, and my commentary and insight is in blue.
John Chapter 15
The Vine and the Branches
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
At the front of the Temple, a large golden vine was displayed as a symbol of Israel. The Jewish people had thought of Israel as the vine, but here Jesus is giving them a new idea.
He is the vine, and we are the branches. God is the gardener. Our faith must be in Jesus as the vine, instead of the things we have always relied on.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
The fruit that we may think of obtaining is probably much different than the fruit that God has in mind for us.
We think of accomplishments, human praise, and material treasures. But God wants to give us fruit in our character. His fruit is found in Galatians 5:
The fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
God plans for his disciples to obtain these traits and be known by them.
9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
Jesus knows that he is the best thing for us and that for us to remain in his love would yield joy in our souls. He wants us to cultivate that joy, amidst the hardship of this world.
How sweet is this, that Jesus, being Lord of all and superior in every way, wants to call us friends?
He is still our God and we should remain his servants, but he wants a relationship with us so trusted and intimate that he would call us his friend and we could call him ours.
The World Hates the Disciples
18 “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19 If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20 Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21 They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the one who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father as well. 24 If I had not done among them the works no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. As it is, they have seen, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25 But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: ‘They hated me without reason.’
Jesus’ teachings and claims to be one with God were polarizing. Even today, people are offended by his words. To publicly and boldly associate with Jesus will bring persecution from the world. This is just something that we need to know and prepare to face- but we can face it with the transcendent joy that a relationship with Him promises!
Jesus receiving unreasonable hatred fulfills prophesy spoken of twice in the Psalms of the Old Testament. And this hatred is self-condemning. Jesus will wipe clean all of our sins unless we reject him and his claims.
The Work of the Holy Spirit
26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning.
We learned a lot about this Advocate yesterday. The Holy Spirit of Jesus that enters into our hearts to reside within us when we have accepted Him.
To testify means to bear witness. This Spirit bears witness of Jesus to us by reminding us of His character and His word. This Spirit teaches us more about Him and shapes our hearts to mirror His own.
In the same way, his disciples – that’s you and I too – must testify of Jesus to the world. We are his human representatives and we should carry that position with care.
You guys, these are some of Jesus’ last words to his disciples before heading the the cross to die for each one of us. And what is the theme of his message?
He wants us to understand that the reason behind him being here with us, and the reason for his coming persecution… it’s love.
After loving God, his second most important commandment is to love each other. It sounds easy enough, but for the Pharisees – the strictly religious leaders of the time (and even of today) – they just couldn’t get behind it. Striving to adhere to every nuanced rule of the Law was easier, or more natural for them, than loving each other. Amazing, isn’t it?
My prayer this season is that the love of God overflows from our hearts, and we are able to notice, acknowlege and encourage each other in love.
I’ll see you all tomorrow for Chapter 16!