John 15: Sticking with Jesus, Sticking Together
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We continue our study of the Gospel of John. In Chapters 13-17 Jesus gives the disciples their final instructions. In Chapter 15, he asks them to stick with him once he is gone and commands them to stick with one another as they spread his word. And he promises them the Holy Spirit to guide them.
Monday John 15:1
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower.”
In Isaiah (5:1-7) God claims the people of Israel and the people of Judea as his vineyard, yet the branches yield sour grapes and God vows to destroy the vineyard. Then, in the Psalms (80:14:19), we hear of the one who will be at God’s right hand and whom God will make strong for himself. Now, in the gospel, Jesus fulfills this prophecy and declares himself the “true” vine.
What does Jesus mean by the “true” vine?
Tuesday John 15:2
“He [the Father] removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.”
Jesus has formed a new community of believers in God. God’s promise of salvation has been made not only to a people of a particular land, the people of Israel, but to all people who believe in him through Jesus Christ. Jesus seeks for all these people, every branch, to bear the fruit of this promise.
What is the “fruit” that Jesus seeks for each branch of his vine to bear?
How does God prune you, so that you can bear good fruit?
Wednesday John 15:4-6
“Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whomever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.”
Here, Jesus gives a simple lesson in horticulture. And a profound lesson in a right relationship with God. A branch cannot bear leaves or flowers or fruit or seeds without its connection to the trunk and then the roots of the plant. And, a trunk is not fully useful unless it produces healthy branches. This is the relationship that Jesus has in mind for us. It is the relationship that God has in mind for Jesus (John 13:11).
What does Jesus mean when he invites us to “abide” in him?
What does he mean when he said he “abides” in us?
Do you experience being “in” Jesus or grafted to Jesus (like a branch to a vine)? How would you describe it?
What about Jesus “in” or attached to you?
Thursday John 15:7-11
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have 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. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.”
Now, Jesus offers the disciples, and us, the reward for our union with him: Ask, and it will be done. The disciples knew from their experience, and we know from ours, that much faith and often much patience is required to claim this reward. But, being “in” Christ and allowing him to be “in” us makes the reward possible; without such a relationship, it is not possible.
What is Jesus’ “joy”?
What was the disciples “joy”?
When have you experienced “joy” in your relationship with Jesus?
Friday John 15:12
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
In the remainder of Chapter 15, Jesus tells the disciples of the trials ahead of them and commands them to meet these trials by committing themselves to one another. He calls them friends. He counsels them to meet hatred with love.
What does it mean to love someone as Jesus loves us?
What does that look like?
Saturday John 15:26-27
“When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.”
In the previous chapter of John, Jesus introduces the disciples to the promise of the Holy Spirit: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever.” (John 14:16) This Advocate is to be another team member, of sorts, in the ministry ahead and the building of the Church. This Spirit will testify to God’s will and ways in the lives of people through the ages.
How have you testified for Jesus?
Have you been helped in your testimony by other disciples?
By the Holy Spirit?
God, thank you for being our vine and allowing us to be your branches. And thank you for the love of all your disciples and the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Amen