Christ The True Vine, Believers the Branches
15:1 "I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.
In this chapter the Lord Jesus Christ illustrates his teaching by referring to himself as the true vine. Those who believe in Him are the branches and his Father is the gardener responsible for the growth.
As the vine, Christ is the root and trunk which supplies the life that the branches need. No branch has life in itself, it only has life as it is attached to the vine and that life is the vine's life. If the branch is separated from the vine by being broken off, then it withers and dies. The Christian has life, eternal life, the life of God living in Him or her. But that life is not in you or I. It is in Christ, his Son (1 John 5:11-12). So it is only as we remain in Christ that his life remains in us.
We have life by virtue of our union to Christ, a union which no power in earth or hell can break. However, it is a union that we can choose to break (Heb. 3:12-14). Since the human heart is deceitful and wicked, we can choose to harden our hearts and turn away from Christ. In the parable of the sower Jesus warned that there would be those who would begin the Christian life, but would fall away either because of persecution or because they chose the love of money or pleasure instead of continuing with Christ.
15:2 He takes away every branch that does not bear fruit in me. He prunes every branch that bears fruit so that it will bear more fruit.
Jesus says that the believer who does not continue in him is like the branch that is cut off and withers. Such branches, he says, are gathered up, thrown into the fire and burned. In fact, there is no other use for them. A vine should bear grapes. Dead branches can't bear grapes, so they had just as well be burned. The warning is clear. Everyone who has received Christ as Saviour has the same chance of going on in him, producing the fruit of a Christ like life which is pleasing to God. But if a believer chooses to turn back and no longer walk with Christ, he has cut himself off from the source of life and his end is to be burned, that is, eternal punishment (Heb. 6:7-8). In fact, Peter tells us that judgement will be worse for Christians who go back than it will be for unbelievers (2 Pet. 2:20-21). There is no excuse for backsliding or
Turning away from the Lord.
Just as the gardener removes the branches that are dead, so he prunes the living branches to make them more vigorous, so they will produce more fruit. Jesus is referring to the discipline that God brings into the lives of His children. Although it feels unpleasant at the time, it is done for a purpose. When the pastor prunes his roses in spring, it seems very cruel - I wonder if the rose feels the pain of the cut. But then he puts powder on the cut to stop the rose bleeding - the sap escaping. That's what God does when he prunes us, his discipline is mixed with tender love and mercy. His discipline proves his love for us, for what father does not discipline his child? The result of the pruning is lots of beautiful flowers and the purpose of God's discipline is to make us more like Jesus, as we share in God's holiness. This is the fruit God wants in our lives (Heb. 12:5-6 and Heb. 12:11).
15:3 You are clean already because of the word that I have spoken to you.
As we remain in Christ, he assures us that we are kept continually clean by obedience to his Word (Psa. 119:9).
15:4-7 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it remains in the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. "I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me — and I in him — bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is thrown out like a branch, and dries up; and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you.
Those who remain in Christ and who are obedient to his word may ask God for whatever they desire and it will be done for them. As we are united to Christ we learn to desire what he desires. This is the relationship of the branch to the vine - let us have simple faith which says that all we need comes from him. We cannot do anything for ourselves, so we must learn to depend on him in everything.
15:8 My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit and show that you are my disciples.
As we trust in Him, we will bear much fruit and the Father will be glorified as all men see that we are Christ's disciples. Not by preaching or miracles, but by the way we live our lives that all men will know.
15:9 "Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you; remain in my love.
The love which Christ has for his people is the love of God - His very nature, which binds the Holy Trinity together. It is the love the Father has for the Son.
15:10 If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commandments and remain in his love.
As a man, Christ had continually remained foremost in the Father's love, for he always did what pleased his Father, being obedient at all times (Matt. 3:20). In order to remain in Christ's love, the Christian must follow his example and obey him at all times.
15:11 I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you, and your joy may be complete.
Christ does not tell us this to bring us into bondage. Obedience to Christ is real freedom and brings us fullness of joy. The satisfaction our souls crave is found only in Him and is ours only as we obey Him.
15:12 My commandment is this — to love one another just as I have loved you.
This wonderful command is not Christ's only command, but it is the greatest. That we should love one another, "as I have loved you." The love we have for each other is God's love poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (Rom. 5:5).
The Nature of Christian Love - Unselfish, Obedient, Original.
15:13 No one has greater love than this — that one lays down his life for his friends.
Christ in these verses reveals the true nature of Christian love. God's love takes hold of and works through my love. My love is like a battery powered lamp, but when God plugs me into the mains of his love, my love is empowered for it is immersed in his. They are indivisible, although God's love is by nature pre-eminent. Christian love is unselfish. It puts the needs and interests of others, especially their spiritual needs, before my own. It makes sacrifices. Christian love is even prepared to give its life if it were necessary for the highest good of others. Daily serving and giving is the key to Christian love. Christian love is no good locked away in your heart. You've got to give it out, and you can only give it out by doing something, however simple, for others, showing an interest in them and showing kindness.
15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
Christian love is shown in our obedience to Christ. The more obedient to Christ a man is the more this proves that he loves. It was in obedience to God that Christ gave his life on the cross that we might be reconciled to him and become his brothers and friends. Now he asks us to obey him -the price of true friendship with Jesus. Remember the relationship: he is Lord. If we treat him as Lord he treats us as friends.
15:15 I no longer call you slaves, because the slave does not understand what his master is doing. But I have called you friends, because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father.
We are friends because we are taken into his intimate counsel. He has told us all his heart, what his plans and will for men are. We are not blindly carrying out his instructions but are joyfully working together with him, for what he wants we want, sharing in his work.
15:16-17 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you. This I command you — to love one another.
One more thing about the nature of God's love. It is original. That is it is not that we loved him but that he loved us. He is the source - all love is derived from him and comes from him. He saved us that we might become more like him, and like him obedient in love (Eph. 1:4). Such fruit is everlasting, for we shall carry our character with us into eternity. As we share Christ's nature so we share through him his access into God's presence and his audience with the father so that we might ask in his name what we will and it shall be done. Christ repeats his command that we should love one another.
The Servant is not Greater than his Master
15:18-19 "If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. However, because you do not belong to the world, but I chose you out of the world, for this reason the world hates you.
In verse 17 Jesus reminded the disciples of His command to "love one another" in preparation for these verses. It is this love for each other that will bind His disciples together in the face of opposition from an unloving world. He forewarns them not to expect to be accepted or loved by those who are still in darkness, for it was a certain that if they rejected Him then they would also reject those who belong to Him. The Holy Spirit will fill their hearts with the love of God that will enable them to love all men (Rom. 5:5 and 1 Thes. 3:10) and although Jesus had told them to love their enemies (Matt. 5:44) He here tells them that they would receive hatred,bitterness and persecution in return. This is evidence that they belong to Him. The reason why they will be treated in this manner is because He had separated/called them apart to God. They were in the world but no longer conforming or walking in the ways of it. Before coming to Christ an unbeliever fashions or moulds imself/herself in the image of the world, they go along with the crowd, doing what seems right in their own eyes and obeying Satan (1 John 3:10). Those who walk in the light of the knowledge of the glorious gospel of our Lord and Saviour are obedient to Him and doing works of righteousness for they are God's own handiwork created in Christ to walk in the light as He is in the Light (Eph. 2:10 and 1 John 1:7). If we think that the world will accept this "new man" we will be greatly mistaken for it cannot because it is "dead in trepasses and sins" (Eph. 2:1) and is at war with God our Father and His Son our beloved Saviour.
15:20 Remember what I told you, 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they obeyed my word, they will obey yours too.
Jesus uses the same words here as He spoke to them in John 13:16 after He had washed the disciples feet but that was in a different context. He is most probably referring to Matt. 10:24 where He was talking to them about how they would be treating by the world. As Christ faced an hostile world so too would all who follow Him. There is a ray of hope however, there were those who did respond to the words of Jesus and were obedient to His teachings and these would also accept and keep the teachings of the disciples hereafter.
15:21 But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.
They would be hated and persecuted not only for proclaiming Salvation in the name of Christ (Acts 4:12) but also as representing Him in their likeness to Him (Rom. 8:29 and 2 Pet. 1:4). It is when the world sees the beauty and love of Jesus in us that they will react in a contrary way. This is because they do not want to keep a knowledge of God in their hearts or minds (Rom. 1:28).
15:22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. But they no longer have any excuse for their sin.
If Jesus had not come into the world as the Light then sin in its true colours, as God sees it, the penalty of sin which is death and the guilt of sin would not have been made known. But because He has there is no cover, no excuse for sin or rejecting the way of salvation through Jesus Christ.
15:23 The one who hates me hates my Father too.
As Jesus is God manifest in the flesh then to have a hatred of Him is to hate God the Father also, they cannot be separated.
15:24 If I had not performed among them the miraculous deeds that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen the deeds and have hated both me and my Father.
Furthermore the very works, the signs and wonders, the miracles, which no one else had ever done, bore witness to who He was and who had sent Him, they confirmed the things He had taught, they revealed the sin of rejection. Having seen God the Father made known in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ they hated both.
15:25 Now this happened to fulfill the word that 'They hated me without reason. is written in their law.
This was in fulfilment of the word spoken in Psa. 69:4 and Psa. 109:3. concerning the Jews in this instance but also of all those who follow in their footsteps.
15:26 When the Advocate comes, whom I will send you from the Father — the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father — he will testify about me.
'But' (thank God for the buts that He gives us) in order that we may stand in the face of all this hatred and persecution Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit, who will come to our aid and comfort us in the time of trouble. Note that it is Jesus who 'sends' Him, that He 'comes' from the Father and 'proceeds', that is, comes out of, the Father. This clearly makes known that the Holy Spirit is part of the Godhead, the Trinity. He will bear witness of Jesus Christ.
15:27 And you also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.
When the Holy Spirit comes He will empower the disciples to be witnesses for Christ (Acts 1:8) They will be able to make known all that Jesus Christ had taugt them from the time that He called them to follow Him.
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