Read John 15
Warning! Chapter 15 is 100% red letters. Jesus does all the talking.
At the end of the last chapter, Jesus said, “Let’s go.” John doesn’t tell us where they went but it was likely Gethsemane. Perhaps along the way, there was a vineyard. In any case, Jesus made his next analogy.
I am the vine. You are the branches.
Before that, Jesus said he was the true vine. His Father in heaven was the Gardener and pruned away anything that would not bear fruit. The Father and Son had the relationship that Jesus wanted for his disciples.
Get rid of anything that hinders. Prune away that which will not bear good fruit. Where do we go for pruning? It’s mostly from God’s word.
Sometimes the Spirit will speak to you but it will be in accord with God’s word.
Then Jesus told his disciples that apart from him, they were nothing. They must remain in him as the branches must remain in the vine. Whoever was not in him would wither and die.
Jesus was once again teaching connection and relationship. If you ever wondered why I am such a stick in the mud about not being transactional in our ministries but insisting on transformational, think to the words of Jesus in this chapter.
If you ever get tired of me saying connect the disconnected, understand that Jesus taught his disciples how important it was to remain connected to him.
Apart from him, we will wither. We will produce no fruit. We will be a worthless branch at best good for a little kindling for the fire.
No branch can produce fruit by itself, but understand that this teaching is not about the fruit. Fruit is evidence of the connection, the relationship, the fellowship with Christ. It’s not about the fruit. It’s about our discipleship.
Are we in fellowship with Christ and each other?
Jesus had just told these men that he was the way, the truth, and the life. Now he reinforces the necessity of remaining in him—connected to him as a branch is to the main vine.
Jesus told his followers that he had to go away. Now he tells them to remain in him. His followers were yet to understand that their connection to their Teacher and Lord would go far beyond following him through Samaria and Galilee.
This was really not new ground. I am in the Father. The Father is in me. Let’s have the same relationship.
Next, we have the drinking from the firehose section. Each statement of Jesus is packed to the brim. Here are ten statements that came in rapid succession.
1. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
2. Now remain in my love.
3. 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.
4. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
5. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
6. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
7. You are my friends if you do what I command.
8. 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.
9. 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.
And finally, number 10. This is my command: Love each other.
Much of this should sound familiar. Love one another. Produce good fruit. Obey my commands.
Some of it took the disciples to another level. You are more than servants. You are my friends.
One of these statements was about Jesus going to the cross; yet was a model for all of us. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
Do you remember the new command? As I have loved you, so you must love one another. Jesus laid down is life for us. That’s how much he loved us. Greater love has no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.
It was a good thing that the Holy Spirit would come and dwell in these men at Pentecost for what they had just heard from their Teacher who was soon to go to the cross was more than most people could handle in a single dose.
What should you take away? Remain in Christ as the branch remains in the vine. Remain in him by remaining in his love and obeying his command to love others with everything we have.
Be know by your love if you want to remain in Christ.