John 15 (NRSV)
Jesus the True Vine
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinegrower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit.
Some scholars believe that the ancient Greek verb airo, translated here as “removes,” is more accurately translated “lifts up.” The idea is that the Father lifts up unproductive vines off of the ground (as is common in vine-dressing), that they may get more sun and be more productive.
Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.
This word for prunes is the same word translated cleanse in other places. Ancient Greek uses the same word for both meanings.
3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide 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.
5I 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. 6Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples.
Question 1: What is the chief end of man?
Answer: Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.
–The Westminster Shorter Catechism
9“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael
John 15:13 (King James Version)
Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
1 John 3:16-18 (King James Version)
Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
But whoso hath this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
These verses are often quoted as referring to a death for others, but the first thought in our Lord’s mind must have been of a life laid down in loving service. The life that does not shut up its compassion but loves in deed — in the doing of real things — this is first of all the life laid down.
The inspiration for that life is not only Calvary but all the years before. Our Lord’s patience throughout those years, going on loving in spite of disappointments and ungratefulness, how that challenges us who find disappointment and ingratitude so trying. Think of the courage that could trust heavenly matters to those poor human hands. Even His nearest and dearest wrangled about who would be greatest during His very last meal with them. And yet His love could overcome everything and say of such followers, They have kept Thy word (John 17:6). He knew, as only Love can know, that in spite of all failures that was their heart’s desire. And so He spoke of them at their highest, not their lowest.
Lord, evermore give us this love, that we may lay down our lives for the brethren.
14You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.
16You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
by Ann Weems
We’ve splashed our rules
all over the sanctuary walls . . .
so many rules we don’t have time
for dancing . . .
defiling the house of God.
God’s graffiti is different:
God writes LOVE
upon our hearts.
Some night, let’s sneak into the sanctuary
and paint over the rules
and write God’s graffiti
all over the walls . . .
LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE
“I Am the Vine” by the inimitable Ken Medema.
The World’s Hatred
18“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. 19If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you.
1 John 3:13-14 (New International Version)
Do not be surprised, my brothers and sisters, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love each other. Anyone who does not love remains in death.
20Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also. 21But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23Whoever hates me hates my Father also. 24If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25It was to fulfill the word that is written in their law, ‘They hated me without a cause.’
26“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. 27You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.”
1) Put into your own words what Jesus means when he says, “I am the vine.”
2) What is required of his followers for them to “bear fruit”? What fruit are you bearing (with the Spirit’s help, of course!) for the Lord now?
The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.