STUDY 20: JOHN 15:1-17 – I AM THE TRUE VINE

© Rosemary Bardsley 2009

I am the true vine … my Father is the gardener … you are the branches’

 

A. CHARACTERISTICS OF THIS CLAIM

A.1 This claim presupposes certain knowledge

Like many of the previous ‘I am’ claims of Jesus - ‘I am the bread of life’, ‘I am the light of the world’, ‘I am the good shepherd’ - this claim presupposes certain knowledge in his hearers:

The ‘bread’ claim presupposed knowledge of the manna which God sent ‘from heaven.’

The ‘light’ claim presupposed knowledge of God as the Light of Israel, of Israel ’s intended role of bringing light to the Gentiles, and of prophecies of the Messiah as the one who would bring light.

The ‘shepherd’ claim presupposed knowledge of God as the Shepherd of Israel, and of the leaders of Israel as shepherds who failed to fulfil their duty.

This ‘vine’ claim presupposes knowledge of Israel ’s failure as the vine [Psalm 80:8-19; Isaiah 5]. See also Jesus’ parable of the tenants in Matthew 21:33-45. The significance here is that it is not membership of Israel which guarantees eternal security, but membership of Christ.

How do these scriptures depict Israel as God’s ‘vine’ or ‘vineyard’?

Psalm 80:8-19

Isaiah 5

Matthew 21:33-45

A.2 This claim is an exclusive claim

Also like these claims to be the Bread, the Light, and the good Shepherd, and along with ‘I am the door’, ‘I am the resurrection and the life’, and ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’, this claim is an exclusive claim. It prohibits and denies the existence of any valid and viable alternative. In this claim Jesus explicitly identifies himself as the true vine, that is, the genuine vine, as opposed to false vines, and in this identification renders invalid and unproductive any relationship with any other source of spiritual nourishment and life.

A.3 This claim links Jesus indispensably with life

In addition, as we read through this passage we realise that here also, although it is not as explicit, this claim of Jesus links himself indispensably with life, just as all the others have done:

Claim

Response

Promise/Outcome

I am the bread of life

Comes to me

Believes in me

Never go hungry

Never be thirsty

I am the living bread

Eats of this bread

Live for ever

I am the light of the world

Follows me

Never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life

I am the gate for the sheep

Enters through me

Will be saved.

Will go in & go out & find pasture

I am the good shepherd

My sheep know me/

listen to my voice/ follow me

I lay down my life for the sheep

I give them eternal life

they shall never perish

no one can snatch them out of my hand

no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.

I am the resurrection/life

Believes in me

Will live. Will never die.

I am the way/truth/life

Knowing Jesus

Comes to the Father/knows the Father/sees the Father

Now this claim, I am the vine, continues this teaching:

I am the vine

Remain/abide in me

Will bear much fruit.

This claim is one more way of expressing the essential connection between the believer and Jesus Christ, the one and only source of spiritual life.

      • A positive connection with Christ [comes, believes] is essential for spiritual sustenance [bread of life]
      • A positive connection with Christ [eats] is essential for survival beyond death [living bread, resurrection and life]
      • A positive connection with Christ [follows] is essential for knowledge of God [light of the world, truth]
      • A positive connection with Christ [enters through me] is essential for salvation [gate]
      • A positive connection with Christ [knows/listens/follows] is essential for security from judgment [shepherd]
      • A positive connection with Christ [believes] is essential for life beyond death [resurrection and life]
      • A positive connection with Christ [knows] is essential for reunion and reconciliation with God [way to God]

Now here in ‘I am the vine’:

      • A positive connection with Christ [remain] is essential for restoration to our true human identity and purpose.

This will be further explained below.

 

B. THE CONTEXT OF THIS CLAIM

Jesus’ claim to be the true vine is made in the context of his final teaching given to the eleven disciples just before his betrayal and arrest. In this context we find:

      • Judas has very recently left to betray Jesus to his enemies [ 13:30 ].
      • Christ’s exhortation not to let their hearts be troubled or afraid [14:1,27] along with the promise of peace [27] and the anticipation of joy [ 15:11 ; 16:20 -24; see also 14:28 ].
      • Christ’s claim to be the way, the truth and the life [14:6]. He isolates himself as the sole source of life, the sole way of knowing the truth about the Father.
      • Christ’s statement that knowing and seeing him is knowing and seeing the Father [14:7-9]. Later he will state that this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. [John 17:3]
      • The promise of the coming of the Spirit, which is the coming of the Father and the Son to the believer [ 14:16 -31; 15:26 ; 16:5-16].
      • Christ’s statements in which true love for him is identified by obedience to his commands [ 14:15 ,21,23,24; 15:10 ,14].
      • The imminence of Christ’s death.
      • Anticipation of rejection and persecution of those who follow Jesus [ 15:18 -16:4].
      • Concern for the glory of God [ 14:13 ; 15:8; 16:14 ; 17:1-5].

These elements in the context of this passage put a fence around our interpretation of it. They prohibit any understanding which:

      1. destroys the believer’s joy and peace, replacing it with a troubled heart.
      2. concludes that Christ dwells in some believers and not in others.
      3. separates Christians into two levels – ordinary believers and a second level who are ‘abiding’.
      4. teaches that it is possible to lose salvation.

But this is exactly what some teachers do with John 15:1-8 by putting specific meaning onto the word ‘remain’ or ‘abide’.

In addition, this context draws our attention to one of the twelve, Judas, who did not ‘remain’ or ‘abide’ in Christ. Though he had been with Christ physically, yet what he is doing at the very moment the Jesus is speaking of abiding/remaining to the other eleven reveals how far he actually is from Christ. We will look at this later.

 

C. UNDERSTANDING THIS PASSAGE

The biggest difficulty in understanding this passage is that it has been over-loaded with subjective and even mystical meaning by some writers and teachers within the Christian church.

‘Subjective’ means focused on self, or stemming from self. It is quite common for people to emphasise the word ‘abide’ rather than the ‘in me’, taking the significance away from the essential relationship with Christ and onto a perceived human action. Abiding is seen to be a level of relationship with Christ which some Christians achieve and others don’t.

The thesaurus parallels of mystical are: cabalistic, arcane, occult, mysterious, hidden, undefinable, unknown. While there is of necessity a great deal we don’t understand about God and his workings, the Scripture makes it clear that one of his certain actions towards us is that of revelation. He makes known, in his Son, things that were previously hidden and unknowable [John 1:14 ,18; Colossians 1:24 -2:5]. There is no secret higher life which only the more pious of Christians can attain through some mystical experience called ‘abiding’. There are no series of steps which we must follow to attain such victory life or whatever, which is dangled before us like some esoteric carrot. The New Testament repeatedly affirms that what was previously hidden [God’s purpose in Christ] is now out in the open.

For example:

1Cor 2:7-10

Ephesians 1:9

Ephesians 3:4-6

Colossians 1:27; 2:2-3

The word translated abide in [KJV], is also rendered remain in [NIV], remain united to [GNB], dwells in [ NEB ], lives in me [Living Bible]. Its meaning is: stay, continue, dwell, lodge, sojourn, remain, rest, settle, last, endure, survive, continue unchanged, be permanent, persevere, be constant, be steadfast, abide, be in close settled union, indwell, wait, tarry, wait for. Most of these meanings are readily understandable in simple concrete terms. What has happened is that some Bible teachers have caught onto the word ‘abide’ and imposed super-spiritual meaning onto it. To abide/remain simply means: to have your habitual dwelling place. Where do we live? We live in Christ.

The matter is straight forward:

When, as a result of the work of the gracious hand of God, a person truly repents and truly believes in the Son of God, Jesus Christ, that person is, at the same time as that act of repenting and believing, being regenerated by the Spirit of God. The outcome/consequence of this experience of genuine conversion is twofold:

[1] he is reunited with God - he is in Christ, and he is indwelt by the Spirit of Christ, [he abides/remains/lives in Christ and Christ abides/remains/lives in him], and

[2] this reunion with God, this indwelling by God, will produce an on-going positive response to God, that is, he will respond with faith and obedience to the Word of God [he bears much fruit]. This life of dependence on the Word of God is what we were created for in the first place. It is our original human identity and purpose.

Neither of these two outcomes is optional. The absence of the latter affirms the absence of the former. If they are not present then the apparent conversion was not the work of the triune God, but merely a human action. The presence of the former automatically results in the latter.

Remaining , or abiding, in Christ, then, is seen to be no different from what has previously been referred to as believing in him, following him, coming to him, drinking of the water that he gives, eating his flesh, knowing him, and so on. It is one more way of expressing the relationship with him that gives us eternal life. As noted above, the word translated ‘abide’ or ‘remain’ could be paraphrased to something like: have your continuing dwelling place in. But even that would not totally capture Jesus’ meaning. The image of branch in vine and vine in branch is especially demonstrative of the utter dependence of the Christian on Christ. If we are not in him we have no life. If he is not in us we have no life. The concept has the additional dimension that the consequence of this relationship or union is directly specified: it inevitably produces fruit.

This thought of fruit [outcomes, results, evidence] has not been far from us right through this gospel:

      • if you hold to my teaching you are really my disciples [John 8:31 ]
      • if you were Abraham’s children then you would do the things Abraham did [ 8:39 ].
      • if God were your Father you would love me [ 8:42 ]
      • he who belongs to God hears what God says [ 8:47 ]
      • if anyone keeps my word he will never see death [ 8:51 ]
      • my sheep listen to my voice ... and they follow me [ 10:27 ]
      • by this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another [ 13:35 ]
      • if you love me, you will keep what I command [ 14:15 , see also 21,23]

Some people understand fruit to be souls saved. Rather fruit is the inevitable outcome of union with Jesus Christ, of being indwelt by the Spirit of God. It is what happens as a result of the transforming work of the Spirit within us [2 Corinthians 3:18 ] – an on-going transformation into the likeness of Christ. Those who claim to be Christians, but demonstrate no evidence of this operation of the Spirit of Christ within them, are also demonstrating that they are apart from Christ. Our relationship with Jesus Christ is a living relationship, like that of the branch to the vine. It inevitably produces fruit.

Bottom line : all Christians abide or remain in Christ. It is this that actually makes us Christian. Christ is the place where we ‘live’ spiritually, he our constant life-force, in a spiritual sense. Severed form him we are spiritually dead and express neither faith nor obedience. We live spiritually only because we live [=abide/remain] in him.

 

D. READING THROUGH THE PASSAGE

I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener [15:1]

Jesus is the one true source of spiritual life. We have seen this repeatedly in John’s Gospel [See A.3 above]. The Father is the one ultimately in charge – for example, it is the Father who sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world, so that we can have this life in and through the Son; it is the Father who sends the Spirit to indwell, instruct and transform us.

He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit … [15:2a]

This verse can only be understood in the light of verses which follow. Because of the teaching of other verses in John [e.g. 10:27 -29] we cannot understand it to mean that some Christians will lose their salvation. Rather we must understand it in terms of John 2:23-25, where there were those who appeared to the human eye to be believing in Jesus, but Jesus knew that they were not. So here in verse 2 we have the removal of the non-genuine. Their character as non-genuine is evidenced by the absence of ‘fruit’.

Judas is a very clear example of this. He associated with Christ; as far as the other eleven knew he was just as much a believer as they were. Christ, however, knew that he was not really with him, he was not ‘clean’:

In what way do these verses indicate Judas’ lack of real connection with Christ?

6:70-71

12:4-6

13:10,11

13:18

This part of 15:2 refers to the removal [the word translated ‘cuts off’ simply means ‘takes’] of those who are for a time associated with Christ, but who have never been genuine in their faith. They are in the physical group of followers, but without a life-giving connection with Christ. They parallel the ‘watershoots’ or ‘watersprouts’ which fruit growers and horticulturalists cut out of their trees because they are useless renegade growths. Just as Jesus, in calling himself ‘the true vine’, has inferred the existence of false vines, so here he indicated that there are branches which are true branches and branches which are not true branches.

… while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful [15:2b]

The genuine believers, that is, those who respond appropriately to the word of Christ, are pruned or cleansed by the Father, so that they will be even more fruitful. Note that the word translated ‘prunes’ [NIV,GNB], ‘purgeth [KJV], is the normal word for ‘cleanses’.

Notice the difference:

      • Those who do not respond to Christ appropriately are cut off [2a]
      • Those who do respond to Christ appropriately are pruned [that is, cleansed] [2b]

These are two completely different actions. One is about getting rid of, taking away. The other is about improving. God removes non-genuine ‘believers’. God works on genuine believers for their good and his glory.

You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you [15:3]

Here Jesus tells his disciples that they are already clean [same root word as the word translated prune ] because of the word which he has spoken to them. Refer back to 13:1-11, where Jesus indicates that the twelve disciples, except Judas, are clean. Judas, remember, was a non-genuine believer. Note also that it is the word of Christ that does the cleansing. Notice also the conversation between Jesus and Peter when Peter is first objecting to Jesus washing his feet, and then over-reacting:

      • Jesus said: ‘Unless I wash you you have no part with me’ [13:8]. This is the washing that has already made them clean: his word, which they have received.
      • Peter then wants Jesus to wash not just his feet, but hands and head as well [13:9]. Peter then mistakenly thinks the life-changing, saving, washing has to occur again.
      • Jesus said: ‘A person who has had a bath needs only to wash his feet; his whole body is already clean.’ [ 13:10s ]. This statement refers firstly to the ‘washing’ by the Word, which has made the person ‘clean’ – that is brought them into a life-giving relationship with God with sin forgiven, then secondly to the on-going washing by God that occurs continually through the life of the believer as the Word of God is used by the Spirit of God to constantly bring the believer into greater conformity to Jesus Christ, the image of God.

It is the first of these cleansings of which Jesus speaks in 15:3, and the second of which he speaks in 15:2b.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you [15:4a].

[Important: Please refer back to section C above for discussion of the meaning of ‘remain’.]

Here Jesus speaks of mutual indwelling: the only way we can be spiritually alive is for us to live in him and he in us. The image of the vine and branch is particularly apt. The vine lives independently of the branches; but the branches can exist only if they are in the vine and the life of the vine in them. Where do the branches live? In the vine. How do the branches live? Only as the vine lives in them. Both remain in me and I will remain in you are essential for our spiritual life. Both express our utter dependence on Jesus Christ.

It helps us to understand this verse and the next if we substitute live or have our permanent dwelling place for abide or remain. Read the verses making this substitution, and you will get Jesus’ meaning. Let us also be careful not to make I will remain in you conditional or dependant on the remain in me. They both go together. You can’t have one without the other. We can’t first dwell in him, without him at the same time dwelling in us.

Note that in terms of the Greek grammar this verse can, as Leon Morris points out, be understood accurately in either of three ways:

      • You must remain in me and I must remain in you.
      • Remain in me and I promise to remain in you.
      • You remain in me and also make sure that I remain in you.

Whichever we choose to adopt, the key point is the essential nature of this mutual indwelling. The first is impossible without the second; the second is the basis of the first.

No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me [15:4b].

It is impossible for a branch to bear fruit if not attached to the vine. Even so it is impossible for us to do the work that God requires unless we are united with Jesus Christ. As it says in Hebrews 11:6 without faith it is impossible to please God and Romans 14:23: everything that does not come from faith is sin. For the branch to bear fruit is must be resident in the vine. For a person to ‘bear fruit’ he/she must live in Christ.

Our contemporary usage of the word ‘remain’ colours our mental response to this verse. Remember the meaning of the word – it is to ‘abide’ – to have one’s normal dwelling place. It’s like when we ask someone ‘Where to you live?’ We are not asking were they are at the moment, but where their home, their ‘abode’ to use the old English, is.

Here the question is ‘Where do you live spiritually?’ and the answer for the believer is ‘in Christ’. This is what is meant by the word ‘remain’. If we do not live in Christ, we do not live spiritually. And if we do not live spiritually we cannot bear spiritual fruit.

John 15:5

In verse 5 Jesus repeats what he has already said, but with a couple of stronger statements.

[1] Not only will the person united to Christ bear fruit, he will bear much fruit.

[2] Instead of saying ‘neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me’ Jesus makes it stronger: apart from me you can do nothing. In other words, it is only the person who is united to Jesus Christ, who can do anything that God would call ‘fruit’; it is only the person united to Jesus Christ who can do anything of any spiritual value or significance. It is only the person united to Jesus Christ who can live the life for which we were created. We cannot see the kingdom [John 3:3]; we cannot enter the kingdom [3:5]; we cannot please God [Hebrews 11:6]; we cannot have eternal life [1John 5:12 ]; we cannot come to God [John 14:6], and so on. We can do nothing.

This life-giving union with Christ is the unique and essential basis from which all biblical human spiritual reality and spirituality flows.

John 15:6

This verse outlines the fate of those who do not have this essential life-giving union with Jesus Christ. They are like branches that:

      • Are thrown away
      • Wither
      • Are then picked up and used as firewood.

Jesus is here describing the identity and fate of those who do not believe in him – the fate from which union with him rescues us. The picture of the discarded branch depicts the powerlessness and lifelessness of the person not connected with Christ.

If you remain in me and my words remain in you … [15:7a]

Jesus is giving a promise to those who live in dependence on Jesus Christ and his words. Note that he has replaced the concept of he himself remaining in the believer with the concept of his words remaining in the believer. These are not contradictory, or even complementary, concepts, but different ways of referring to the same concept. What he says [his words] and what he is are the same thing. He is the truth he taught.

… ask whatever you wish and it will be given you [15:7b]

To understand this verse and the next it is helpful to compare it with John 14:13,14.

John 14:13,14

John 15:7,8

The promise is given to those who

have faith in Jesus Christ [ 14:12 ]

remain in Christ [15:7]

have his words in them [15:7]

The extent of the promise

‘whatever’ [ 14:13 ]; ‘anything’ [ 14:14 ]

‘whatever you wish’ [15:7]

‘whatever you ask’ [ 15:16 ]

Proviso

In my name [ 14:13 ]

In my name [ 15:16 ]

Christ’s response to the prayer

‘I will do’ [ 14:13 ] ‘I will do it’ [ 14:14 ]

‘it will be given you’ [15:7]

The end result

The Son brings glory to the Father [ 14:14 ]

The Father’s glory [15:8]

The context in which the promise of verse 7 is given:

the glory of the Father
the bearing of much fruit
the verification that we are his disciples [verse 8]

This indicates that the ‘whatever you wish’ cannot be interpreted to mean ‘anything at all’, for our wishes will be within the fence of these three goals of verse 8, and the twofold relationship of verse 7 as well.

In 14:13 ,14 Jesus put a proviso – ‘in my name’ – as a boundary around this promise to answer prayer, but it appears absent in 15:7,8. It turns up, however, in 15:16 , where Jesus concludes this aspect of his teaching. This ‘in my name’ qualifies his promise to give believers whatever they wish. Those who really believe in him will wish for nothing that will dishonour his name, or detract from his glory.

Note also that the three outcomes listed in verse 8 are synergistic: our identity as disciples of Christ is verified by our bearing much fruit [our submitting to the word of God with trust and obedience], and this submission to his word gives glory to the Father.

As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you [15:9]

The measure and the manner of Jesus’ love for us - as the Father has loved me. This is an extremely huge statement. So huge that it is impossible to understand the size of it, almost frightening in its immensity.

Reflect on Jesus’ statement. To assist you read Ephesians 1:7,8; 2:7; 3:18,19; 1John 4:9,10,

 

 

 

 

Now remain in my love [15:9]

Having thus told us the nature and the extent of his love for us he tells us to live, to dwell, to have our dwelling place in that love. We are to remain in him, and we are to remain in his love. Here, in this amazing love, personified in Jesus Christ, is the only place we can live, the only place we can both survive spiritually, and thrive spiritually. Here in this love, is our real home. This home, this place, is what we were made for.

If you obey my commands you will remain in my love … [ 15:10 ] = If you keep my commands.

When we read the words ‘obey my commands’ we automatically in terms of doing what he says in actual commands – commands that instruct us with ‘do this’ or ‘don’t do that’. We think of ‘commands’ we think in terms of a set of rules. But when we look at John’s gospel we find that Jesus’ meaning is something greater than adhering to a set of rules.

Compare :

8:31 - If you hold to [meno] my teaching you are really my disciples

8:51 - If anyone keeps [tereo] my word he will never see death

8:55 - I do know him and keep [tereo] his word

14:15 - If you love me, you will obey [tereo] what I command, and … the Father … will give you another Counsellor

14:21 - Whoever has my commands and obeys [tereo] them, he is the one who loves me

14:23 – If anyone loves me he will obey [tereo] my teaching

14:24 – He who does not love me will not obey [tereo] my teaching

15:10 – If you obey [tereo] my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed [tereo] my Father’s commands and remain in his love.

15:20 – If they obeyed [tereo] my teaching they will obey [tereo] yours …

17:6 – You gave them to me and they have obeyed [tereo] your word

Notes:

[1] With the exception of 8:31 , where meno [remain, abide, stay; the same word used for remaining in the vine] is used, all of the above use the Greek tereo, which is translated either as ‘obey’ or ‘keep’. This word means to guard from loss or injury, to preserve, to observe, to reserve. It is the word used by Peter when he says our inheritance is ‘kept in heaven’ for us [1Peter 1:4], and that Jude uses when he says that believers are ‘kept by Jesus Christ’ [Jude 1].

[2] Thus, keep or obey in these verses do not simply mean obey in its contemporary English meaning . Keep and obey mean ‘not only approve his teaching, but keep it as a precious treasure’. This keeping or obeying of the word, or teaching, or sayings, or commands of Jesus will include obedience in the usual sense, but it is an obedience which issues forth from the high esteem and specialness in which that word is held. We treasure his word so much that we don’t want to lose it, misuse it or abuse it. We keep it, we guard it, we preserve it intact, as a precious treasure. And with this strong value on God’s word we also commit to believe and obey it.

[Interestingly, most of the words/sayings/commands of Jesus in John’s gospel are about his true identity and challenge and exhort his hearers to acknowledge and believe in him. There are very, very few do this, don’t do that commands in terms of rules and regulations.]

[3] It is this keeping of Jesus’ word [commands, teaching, sayings] this treasuring of his word, that identifies a person as someone who is living in his love, someone who is living in him. Because he is valued, his word is valued.

… just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love [15:10b]

In verse 9 Jesus described his incredible love for us – it is just as the Father loved him. Now in verse 10 he describes the level of response that he demands of us – it is just as he responds to the Father. So we have this equation:

Jesus, who is loved greatly by the Father, treasures the Father’s commands and so lives in the Father’s love.

We, who are loved just the same by Jesus, must similarly treasure his commands and so live in his love.

I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete [ 15:11 ].

Jesus explains why he has said what he said. His intention was not to create anxiety, or fear that salvation can be lost. Nor was his intention to lay the necessity of keeping his commands on us as an arduous, legalistic necessity. Rather, his intention for us is joy. He is speaking here to these eleven disciples immediately, who do treasure his words/commands, and to all who like them will later hold his words and his teaching in appropriate esteem. To these eleven, and to us who believe, he gives this assurance: you are treasuring my words, you are dwelling in my love. Your place of permanent residence is my love. To know that love is to have the fullness of his joy. To respond to that love is an act of joy, not of duty.

He is about to be arrested. He is about to be humiliated and killed. All of his claims will appear invalid. So to these who have received his word, who hold it precious, he gives this strong assurance: you live in my love. And because you live in my love, you can rejoice.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

Out of this wonderful assurance and promise, and along with this fullness of joy, comes the command: love each other as I have loved you. Those who reside in Christ’s love, he commands to love each other - in the same way that he has loved us. To be loved by Christ is to be obligated to likewise love each other.

And here, that which was almost frightening in its immensity in verse 9, becomes overwhelming: there Christ told us that he loved us just as the Father loved him. Now he tells us that we are to love him just as he loves us. And we wonder: how can we possibly do that? This love is beyond us, yet it is commanded of us.

To put this love in perspective Jesus teaches:

      • It is the great love in which a man lays down his life for his friends [13]. This laying down of one’s life may include dying for the other, which is what Jesus himself is about to do for them, but it includes that same attitude of humble service that Jesus has already demonstrated in Chapter 13. [See the note on 13:13-17 in Study 17, section B]. This is the love that denies oneself and one’s perceived rights for the well-being of the other.
      • They are his friends. The apparent conditional ‘if you do what I command you’ [14], is not meant to exclude any of these eleven disciples, as he immediately adds that he calls them ‘friends’ [15].
      • Because they are his friends, not servants, he has told them everything that he learned from his Father [15].
      • They are his friends because he chose them, not because they chose him [16]
      • He has appointed them to go and to bear fruit that lasts [16].
      • It is in this context, that of his command to love one another has he has loved us [verses 12,17], and his purpose that we bear fruit that lasts [16], that he repeats his promise of answered prayer [16]. Obviously, we need to request the Father’s help to enable this love, this fruit of our union with Christ.

 

Reflection: What significant truths or challenges have you learned from 15:1-17?