3John 15:1-4John 15:1-41 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.
4John 15:5-7John 15:5-75 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
5John 15:8-11John 15:8-118 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.11 These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.
6John 15:12-14John 15:12-1412 This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.13 Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.14 Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you.
7Focus VerseJohn 15:5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
8Focus ThoughtAbiding in Christ is the secret to fruitfulness, friendship, continuing discipleship, and answered prayers.
9Introduction Introduction Each of the Gospels speaks briefly of the Last Supper, which Jesus shared with His disciples. However, only John recorded the Lord’s last words spoken to the Twelve gathered around Him that momentous night. Those words are summarized in John Some have called this passage the “seed bed of the Epistles” because nearly all major doctrines developed in the New Testament letters are seminally present in Jesus’ instructions given at the Last Supper.
10IntroductionJohn’s account began as the meal was being served. Jesus shocked His disciples by taking the role of a household slave and washing His disciples’ feet. In this He modeled for them the servant attitude they would have to display as leaders of His church (John 13:1-17). When Jesus predicted His betrayal, Judas slipped out into the night and left Christ alone with the faithful Eleven (John 13:18-30). It is to them that Jesus gave His “new commandment” to love one another as He had loved them (John 13:31-38).
11IntroductionJesus went on to encourage His remaining disciples with the promise that He would return after preparing a place for them (John 14:1-4). He reminded them that He is the only way by which any person can approach God (John 14:5-14).
12IntroductionThen, for the first time, Jesus explained how believers will be able to continue a personal relationship with Him after His resurrection (John 14:15-31). This would become possible because Jesus would send His Spirit to take up residence in every believer. Through the Holy Spirit, the believer who loves Jesus and obeys His teaching will actually experience Christ’s presence and know the peace that only He can give.
13IntroductionHow important is it that we remain close to Jesus Christ? It is just as important for us to remain close to Him as it is that a branch remain united to its vine. The vine is the source of vitality and life; only being connected to the vine enables the life-giving fluids to flow from the vine into the branches.
14IntroductionOtherwise, the branch is dry, useless, and unable to produce fruit. In a similar way, by loving Jesus and being responsive to His words, the Christian maintains an essential union with Him, which produces the fruit that God desires. Further, union with Jesus Christ causes a believer to experience the joy of the Lord in its greatest measure.
15IntroductionJesus is not physically present with us as we live our lives in this world; however, through His Spirit we enjoy His spiritual presence. When we express our love for the Lord through obedience, we experience His real presence and spiritual productivity in our lives. It is no wonder that walking close to the Lord produces both peace and joy.
16I. Our Relationship with Christ Christianity is not just a religion of beliefs; it is a religion of relationships. John 15 mentions three main relationships:1. Relationship with the Lord (John 15:1-4)2. Relationship with one another (John 15:12-17)3. Relationship with the world (John 15:18-19)
17I. Our Relationship with Christ Regarding our relationship with the Lord, Jesus said, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:20). He will never leave us alone.
18I. Our Relationship with Christ There is a great difference between being alone and being lonely. Every person needs times to be alone when in quietness and confidence he can focus on the deepest needs of his soul. Jesus often withdrew from the crowds and even from the disciples, His most intimate friends, so that He could be alone in the garden, on the mountain, or on the lakeshore.
19I. Our Relationship with Christ A measure of aloneness is necessary for the health of the soul, but loneliness is devastating. It blots the stars out of the sky, hides the light of the sun, and takes the joy out of life. It robs a person of enthusiasm. It weakens one’s health and shakes his self-confidence. It breeds fear and ruins effectiveness; it destroys one’s spirit. To be alone is to know the creative power of quietness and the healing power of stillness. On the other hand, to be lonesome is to feel isolated from life, unwanted, unneeded, and unloved by God and man.
20I. Our Relationship with Christ In some measure, loneliness is a product of our modern age and of our crowded urban lifestyle. Many people in great cities are surrounded by crowds, but still they are literally sick with loneliness. Swallowed up and overwhelmed, they lose all sense of significance. Many aspects of modern culture tend to separate a person from others and deepen his sense of loneliness—competitive lifestyles, individualism, possessiveness, and fears.
21I. Our Relationship with Christ There is much more fear and weeping in our world than we know or can imagine. There are few sadder words than “I am lonely.”
22I. Our Relationship with Christ Loneliness is one of the great problems of modern society. Young people experience it with their dreams and aspirations, their conflicts and temptations, their problems and their fears.
23I. Our Relationship with Christ Old people know it as their families scatter, their circle of friends diminishes, and the fear of being useless and dependent troubles them. There is the loneliness of leadership, of success, of failure, and of death. But Jesus knows the meaning of loneliness, and He desires to befriend and strengthen those who suffer from it.
25I. Our Relationship with Christ The disciples were heartbroken by Jesus’ death, and loneliness and fear paralyzed them as in terror they hid themselves behind locked doors. Gradually, they understood the great truth that He was still with them. A few weeks later on a mountain in Galilee, they heard Him speak the words that through the centuries have helped individuals conquer loneliness: “Lo, I am with you alway” (Matthew 28:20).
26I. Our Relationship with Christ We will conquer our loneliness if we resolve to use it to find ourselves and to enrich our lives through relationship with Jesus Christ. As we grow in our understanding of life, ourselves, and our intimate relationship with God, we will discover that loneliness begins to fade.
27I. Our Relationship with Christ The psalmist in his loneliness looked up at the stars, pondered the meaning of life, and asked, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; what is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).
28I. Our Relationship with Christ Delving into the meaning of his experience with God, he saw with deep insight the connection between his relationship with the sheep as their shepherd and God’s relationship with him as his shepherd. So he sang, “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake” (Psalm 23:1-3).
29I. Our Relationship with Christ Jesus returned from his lonely vigils of prayer with renewed power and seemingly endless resources of strength and energy. We conquer loneliness also when we practice the presence of God and remember that we are never really alone.
30I. Our Relationship with Christ This was the secret discovered by Brother Lawrence, the monastery cook, in the seventeenth century. He found the divine Presence as real in his kitchen as in the chapel before the high altar. The distinctive glory of the Christian faith has been its ability to strengthen individuals by their consciousness of God’s presence.
31Psalm 23:4“Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psalm 23:4).
32Psalm 139:8-10“If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me” (Psalm 139:8-10).
33I. Our Relationship with Christ We were made by God, and we belong to Him. We are the people of God. Our hearts are empty and our lives lonely until we know the near, abiding presence of God wherever we live, wherever we go, and wherever we work.
34I. Our Relationship with Christ Receiving the Holy Ghost was the tremendous experience that changed the world for the discouraged, lonely, and fearful disciples of Jesus. They came to understand that their Friend truly was alive, for He was living within them through the Spirit.
35I. Our Relationship with Christ Jesus Christ is also our Friend, and we conquer our loneliness when we can sing with James Small, “I’ve found a Friend, oh, such a Friend!”
37I. Our Relationship with Christ Jesus understands how we feel and our need for a friend. He always is present, ready to be that friend. We may be alone, but with Him we never have to be lonely.
38Romans 8:38-39“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39).
39I. Our Relationship with Christ We will never be separated from Jesus Christ. Not even the devil and the denizens of hell can break up our relationship with Him. David reinforced this truth when he sang, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the LORD will take me up” (Psalm 27:10).
40I. Our Relationship with Christ Although we may encounter seasons of loneliness, they do not have to master us. Because Jesus is with us, we never need to be lonely. He never will leave us alone. To illustrate His relationship to us and ours to Him, He used the imagery of the vine and the branches.
41I. Our Relationship with Christ (A) He Is the True VineI. Our Relationship with Christ (A)Jesus said, “I am the true vine” John 15:1. The Old Testament commonly used the vine to illustrate God’s people. Psalm 80:8 referred to Israel as “a vine” brought out of Egypt. The clearest use of the image is found in Isaiah 5.
42“Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: and he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry” (Isaiah 5:1-2, 7).Isaiah 5:1-2, 7
43I. Our Relationship with Christ (A) Unfortunately, Israel failed to produce the fruit of righteousness and justice for which God was looking. Consequently, Jesus Christ was the true Vine, and through Him God established a means by which believers could produce the fruit of true goodness—spiritual fruit. (See Galatians 5:22-23.)
44I. Our Relationship with Christ (A) Further, only through a relationship with Jesus Christ, the true Vine, can humans produce the moral qualities for which God seeks. Personal relationship with Jesus is the essence of Christianity.
45I. Our Relationship with Christ (B) We Are the Fruitful BranchesI. Our Relationship with Christ (B)Jesus Christ is the vine, the source of spiritual vitality, and believers need Him. They can exist only through an ongoing connection to Him. However, in a sense He also needs the branches. He desires to reach out to the lost of this world, and for this effort He needs the branches.
46I. Our Relationship with Christ (B) He wants to minister to those with spiritual hurts and needs, and the means of ministering to them involves the branches. The vine gives believers strength, but they are the branches that go out to do His work in this world. We are His eyes, ears, feet, and mouth in this world!
47I. Our Relationship with Christ (B) As His branches, the Lord expects believers to be fruitful. Fruitfulness is determined and accomplished by the branches remaining attached to the vine. Believers are to “abide” in Christ Jesus, for that is their means of sustenance and strength. We must abide in Him, the vine, and bear fruit for His cause.
48II. Prerequisites for the Fruitful Life (A-B) Purging by GodThe gardener prunes his vines with extreme care. We need not fear the pruning of God as the gardener who prunes His vines. It is clear that God actively tends to His vineyard, and He is fully committed to bringing every branch to a state of maximum fruitfulness.
49II. Prerequisites for the Fruitful Life (A-B) God’s pruning benefits us; it does not threaten us.
50II. Prerequisites for the Fruitful Life (A-B) Abiding in HimII. Prerequisites for the Fruitful Life (A-B)“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4).
51II. Prerequisites for the Fruitful Life (A-B) The New International Version of the Scriptures translates John 15:4: “Remain in me.” The point is that believers are to live in intimate union with Jesus.
52II. Prerequisites for the Fruitful Life (A-B) It is clear in the analogy why believers should abide in Jesus. A branch draws its vital juices from the vine to which it is united. In the same way, we draw from Jesus the spiritual vitality that enables us to produce fruit. Thus Jesus said clearly, “Without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
53II. Prerequisites for the Fruitful Life (A-B) The Christian life is a supernatural life, which flows from Jesus to us. One can experience it only as he lives in intimate fellowship with the Lord.
54II. Prerequisites for the Fruitful Life (C) Obeying His WordII. Prerequisites for the Fruitful Life (C)Jesus also made it clear how we as believers are able to remain in Him. He stated, “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:10). We remain in Jesus Christ by obeying His Word. Jesus never abandons us; any failure to abide in Him is the result of our personal choice.
55III. Degrees of Fruit Bearing A number of Old Testament passages portray God’s people as a vine and fruit as the consequences or outcomes of human actions. This figurative use of fruit is a common imagery of the Old Testament and appears eleven times in the Book of Psalms and ten times in the Book of Proverbs. Also, the same principle appears in Isaiah 5:1-7, where the prophet described Israel as God’s vineyard.
56III. Degrees of Fruit Bearing Although the Lord did everything to prepare the land and protect the young plants, the results were more than disappointing. Examining Isaiah’s vision of God’s vineyard helps us to understand—as Jesus’ disciples would have understood—Christ’s extended analogy of His own vine-and-branches relationship with believers.
57III. Degrees of Fruit Bearing Against the well-known background of this image, Jesus announced, “I am the vine, ye are the branches” (John 15:5). God looked for fruit from His Old Testament planting, Israel, and now He looks for fruit from His New Testament investment, the church. Unlike the Old Testament vine that produced bitter fruit, the branches connected to Jesus are expected to “bear much fruit” (John 15:8).
58III. Degrees of Fruit Bearing Students of Scripture often ask what fruit means in this imagery. The meaning is established in the Old Testament and reinforced in the New Testament. Isaiah portrayed fruit as justice and righteousness. The apostle Paul portrayed fruit as “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance,” which the Holy Spirit produces in the believer’s life (Galatians 5:22-23).
59III. Degrees of Fruit Bearing Both the Old Testament and the New Testament focus our attention on character; fruit represents those good and right qualities that the Spirit produces within a person whose heart is in tune with God’s own character and nature. (See Matthew 7:15-23.)
60III. Degrees of Fruit Bearing Two themes dominate this critical New Testament passage:the theme of the Vine and His branches andthe command of Jesus to His disciples to love one another.
61III. Degrees of Fruit Bearing Jesus developed the first theme as He stressed that a believer must remain in Him as a branch must remain in intimate union with its vine (John 15:4-10). This is essential because no branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.
62III. Degrees of Fruit Bearing Neither can we bear spiritual fruit unless we remain connected to Christ. Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing. To remain in Jesus means something different from continuing to believe in Him; it means to live in communion with Him.
63III. Degrees of Fruit Bearing Fruit bearing is possible only when individuals remain connected to Jesus Christ in intimate union. And only in bearing fruit can we achieve God’s purpose for our lives. The important thing for us to realize is that whatever prominence we may achieve—in the local church or in the larger Christian world—God’s goal for us is that we be fruitful for Him. Unless we are living in union with our Lord and seeing His fruit produced in our lives, all else is meaningless.
64III. Degrees of Fruit Bearing How do we live in close union with the Lord, bonded to Him as closely as a branch is bonded to its vine? As was the case in John 14, Christ again emphasized obeying His commands and remaining in His love. And He further emphasized a specific command: “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12).
65III. Degrees of Fruit Bearing Jesus has sent the Holy Spirit to bond us to Himself. We experience His real presence when our love for Him moves us to obey His teachings. Further, as we live in intimate union with Jesus, He produces fruit in our lives. The key to living in union is love that moves us to obey, especially His specific command to love each other.
66III. Degrees of Fruit Bearing We demonstrate the spiritual fruit identified both in the Old Testament and the New Testament through interpersonal relationships. As we love one another, we realize in our lives the beautiful and spiritual qualities of God. Without love for one another, however, there can be no production of spiritual fruit. With love for Christ and love for one another, God’s fruit will bud and grow in our lives.
67III. Degrees of Fruit Bearing John mentioned a specific progression of fruit bearing.Some Fruit. The Lord wants all believers tobear some fruit. There is no exception (John 15:2).2. More Fruit. If we allow the Lord to prune ourlives, it will permit us to grow spiritually andbegin to bear “more fruit” (John 15:2).3. Much Fruit. If we abide in Jesus, weprogress to a state of bearing much fruit. Weconstantly bear fruit because we areconstantly abiding in Him (John 15:5).
68IV. Dangers of Not Abiding in Him “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6).
69IV. Dangers of Not Abiding in Him The wood of the grapevine is soft and twisted. It cannot be cut into lumber or shaped into furniture or utensils. It has value only when it lives in the vine, bearing fruit. So it is in Jesus’ picture of the essential nature of abiding in Him. Branches that fail to continue abiding in Christ eventually are thrown away and burned. The branch that is not producing fruit for Christ is useless.
70IV. Dangers of Not Abiding in Him Jesus does not desire to discard any believer; however, if a believer refuses to abide in Him and continues in unfruitfulness, the Lord will discard him like a dead branch.
71IV. Dangers of Not Abiding in Him God has chosen us and called us into relationship with Him so that we may produce the fruit of true goodness and display His character to the world. If we fail to abide in Jesus, however, the penalty is an empty and useless life—and eventually, abandonment by the Lord. That is how important it is to remain in Jesus Christ!
72V. Promises to Those Abiding in Him God is glorified by the Christian’s fruitfulness; however, that which glorifies God also benefits the disciple. There are innumerable benefits that we experience when we stay close to Jesus Christ. We produce much fruit and find a sense of satisfaction in fulfilling our divine destiny.
73V. Promises to Those Abiding in Him Answered Prayers. We gain power in prayer,asking whatever we desire of Him (John 15:7).2. Assurance of Christ’s Love. When we abideclose to Jesus, we are constantly aware of Hislove for us.3. Continuing Discipleship. We demonstrate ourdiscipleship and reveal the reality of ourrelationship with Jesus.
74V. Promises to Those Abiding in Him 4. Fullness of Joy. We remain in Jesus’ love,sensing a closeness to Him. Further, weexperience a deep-seated joy that bubbles upfrom within even during difficult circumstancesof life. (See John 15:11.)
75V. Promises to Those Abiding in Him 5. Friendship with Christ. The word friend is oneof the most significant words in Scripture thathelps us to understand the Christian life. Thesignificance is seen in Christ’s analogy. A lordor master has the right to give his servants orslaves orders. It is none of their business whythe master gives a command. Slaves areresponsible only to obey, and they mustobey—or else!
76V. Promises to Those Abiding in Him Jesus is Lord and has the right to give commands that we must obey; however, He has chosen to call His followers “friends.” Consequently, He shares His ultimate purposes and motives with us and guides us in His will. Further, He has given us a choice not available to slaves. A friend may respond to a friend out of affection, but a friend does not have to obey.
77V. Promises to Those Abiding in Him A man told about his daughter who was taking piano lessons. It was her first year, and all too often her parents heard her say, “I hate the piano!” Pouting and miserable, she would head off to practice but only because they made her practice.
78V. Promises to Those Abiding in Him Another man told of his two nephews who are accomplished violinists, and they love to practice! Even their summer vacations are dedicated to playing in some orchestra or heading off to a succession of music camps. What a difference between having to practice and wanting to!
79V. Promises to Those Abiding in Him This is the difference that Jesus implied, which also is the key to living a successful Christian life. God does not want believers to go out—pouting and miserable—to obey Jesus because they have to. God wants His people to be His friends, and a friend eagerly responds to the wishes and requests of his friend because he wants to please him.
80V. Promises to Those Abiding in Him We show that we are Jesus’ friends when we do what He has commanded, for He will not force us. Instead, He invites us to respond to Him out of love. We can love God and do what we please, because if we love God, pleasing Him is what we will want to do.
81ReflectionsBelievers must abide in Jesus Christ if they are to bear fruit, for without Him they cannot produce fruit. We abide as branches, but He is the true Vine. He expects and needs us to bear fruit, more fruit, and much fruit. We must always be aware of the dangers of not abiding in Him.
82ReflectionsEven though there are dangers in not abiding in Him, there are wonderful blessings that come as a result of remaining in Him. When we abide in Christ Jesus, we have the blessing of answered prayers, the assurance of His love, continuing discipleship, fullness of joy, and friendship with Him.