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Thru the Book Devotional: John 15

**Today's Post is from the "Thru the Book" commentary series, intended to help followers of Jesus more deeply understand and fall in love with His Word. Grab your Bible and follow along in John 15, using these as study notes! "Thru the Book" is available for purchase on Amazon.

In John 15, Jesus shares “The Fruit of A Life that Abides!” Continuing His final instruction to the disciples before He goes to the Cross, Jesus lays out His destiny for all who follow Him. We were created to remain in Him, to bear fruit that remains, and to be assured He will remain in us!

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser” (v. 1): NOTE: Jesus takes the disciples to a very well known prophetic picture from the book of Isaiah, coming now as the fulfillment! In Isaiah 5, the prophet wrote about God’s desire to plant a people to bear fruit on earth to turn people to God, and our inability to do because of our own sin:

“My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones, and planted it with choice vines; he built a watchtower in the midst of it, and hewed out a wine vat in it; and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded wild grapes…he looked for justice, but behold, bloodshed; for righteousness, but behold, an outcry!” Isaiah 5:1-2,7

Jesus now appeared as the solution: we cannot be our own vine, but need to be grafted in to HIS. HE is the Vine and the Father stands ready to nurture and knit us to Him so we can finally bear the fruit we were created to bear.

“Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (v. 2): 

Takes Away: Strongs G142, “airō,” 2 distinct meanings: 1) To elevate or lift up ; 2) To carry off or take away.

Prunes: Strongs G2508, “kathairō,” Cleanses from impurity, refines.

NOTE: Speaking of humanity as branches from Him, the Vine and Creator, Jesus shares two possible outcomes, and how He draws near to meet us in them:

1) We are a branch that does not bear fruit. “Fruit” here is closely tied to living lives that reflect His restorative work on earth. For all who are misaligned and failing to bear the fruit they were created for, the Father draws near. The phrase ‘takes away’ has two meanings, which are both appropriate here. First, the Father ‘lifts us up’ or re-positions us in situation, circumstance, or some other active pursuit. In a vineyard, vinedressers first take struggling branches and lift them off the ground to get the nutrients they need to thrive. In the same way, the Father continually pursues those running from Him with “goodness and mercy all the days of our lives” (Ps. 23:6), doing anything He can to urge His child to respond to His call. He does all of this so He does not have to see them reach the lifeless state He refers to in verse 6.

2) We are a branch that bears fruit. For every heart surrendering to Jesus, He promises fruit is being borne (whether we realize it or not…and we often don’t until it is well in bloom). For us, the Father ‘prunes’ or refines us, so we will bear even more fruit. Refining is beautiful and uncomfortable. It means growing up. It means facing and overcoming obstacles that we used to run from or buckle under. And it often ‘feels’ like failure in the moment, as we are learning how to be victorious in entirely new arenas. We would do well to remember the Father’s heart for us in this moment is GOOD, and what is happening within us is good. This is the NORMAL path for Christian growth and we WILL reap a harvest if we don’t give up!

“Abide in me, and I in you. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” (v. 4): 

Abide: Strongs G3306, “menō,” Abide, Dwell, Remain. NOTE: Jesus makes an incredible promise. As we abide in Him, we can be assured that HE is abiding in us! However, we need to understand that, just as a dead branch laying on the ground next to a thriving vine, we ‘cannot’ bear fruit through any other means than our union with Him! He IS the source of all life and invites us, in all of our imperfections, to stay with Him, forever!

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love” (v. 9): NOTE: This is CRAZY! Jesus loves YOU with the SAME LOVE He and the Father love one another! Let that sink in. He invites us to ABIDE (stay and never leave) in that love! In the verses that follow, Jesus details a beautiful and simple progression of how we abide in His love.

1) We abide in His love by "keeping His commandments" (v. 10). 

2) His ONLY commandment is to LOVE Him with all of our hearts, and from the overflow of that love, to love our neighbor as ourselves. Once again, Jesus here defines true love as the intentional and continual posture of emptying ourselves to actively pursue the welfare and wholeness of others (v. 12-13).

“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (v. 11): 

Joy: Strongs G5479, “chara,” Joy, gladness, delight.

Full: Strongs G4137, “plēroō,” To fill up to the brim, to furnish liberally, to render complete.

NOTE: In Greek, the phrasing in this passage says, “As you ABIDE in me, I ABIDE in you (v. 7)…I have spoken this so MY JOY will ABIDE in you (v. 11)…so YOUR FRUIT you bear on earth will ABIDE (v. 16).” Jesus’ will for us is to experience more joy than we have the capacity to hold, so it spills out and overflows to everyone we encounter:

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Rom. 15:13

“No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you” (v. 15): 

Friends: Strongs G5384, “philos,” A friend, companion; the ‘best man’ in a wedding.

NOTE: In calling us, ‘friends,’ Jesus uses the same term here as a groom’s closest confidant on His wedding day, his ‘best man!’ By the overwhelming, incredible, unending love of God, we are not only forgiven from our sins or allowed to draw near to God. We are also simultaneously His BRIDE AND His BEST MAN! What INCREDIBLE love and honor He gives!

“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide” (v. 16): 

Chose: Strongs G1586, “eklegomai,” To choose for one’s self to bestow favor and grace.

Appointed: Strongs G5087, “tithēmi,” To place, set, fix, establish.

NOTE: You are CHOSEN in the Beloved, and you have been APPOINTED by the God over all to bear unique fruit on planet earth that will last and multiply. If God be for us, who can possibly be against us? (Rom. 8:31)

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you” (v. 18): 

Hates: Strongs G3404, “miseō,” To pursue with hatred; to detest.

NOTE: Jesus closes this chapter with great encouragement concerning opposition and persecution on earth: if you look and love like Jesus, people will treat you the SAME WAY they treated Jesus. This means that some will persecute you (v. 20). This is because the Gospel exposes sin as sin (v. 22), and all who wish to cling to their violence, self-pursuit, and addictions will resist the lights being turned on. But, praise God, it ALSO means that there are many who are struggling at sea who will see your love like a lighthouse welcoming them home to safe shores with a Father whose arms are open wide!

Bringing it Home:

What unique ‘fruit’ do you bear on earth for Jesus? What ways do you bring others hope, life, renewal, or restoration? Since we have a REALLY HARD TIME seeing this in ourselves, it may help to ask a few friends and to write down what they say, so you can STAND on it!

In a few words, what does it mean for you that Jesus calls you, ‘friend?’

Adapted from Thru the Book: John, © 2023 by Chuck Ammons. Available on Amazon.

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