Friday, March 30, 2007

John 15:1-17 --- Remain in Him

Scripture:
1"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. 8This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9"As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master's business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. 17This is my command: Love each other.


Insight:
Jesus makes some incredible statements in these passages. He appears to be talking to his followers who have already made a commitment to follow him because he uses the concept of “remaining” in him. However, he makes a sobering statement that if his followers do not bear fruit that they will be cut off and thrown into the fire and burned. This sounds like it has eschatological overtones making reference to spending eternity separated from God in hell. Jesus has gotten my attention. So, how do we know if we are truly connected to Christ? Check out our fruit. Do we have fruit? Is our fruit good? Are our actions Christ-like? Are our thoughts those of Christ? Are we selfish or are we selfless? Jesus says that if we, followers of him, are not bearing (good) fruit, then we will be cut-off. This is a serious statement that should make us all sit up and take inventory.

Jesus then tells us how to remain in him: “obey my commands”. He simply says that if we obey him as he obeyed his father’s commands then we will remain in his love. What are the commands? In verse 12 he lays it out for us: “love each other as I have loved you”. He then follows that up with “greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends”. Jesus is saying that just as he laid down his life for us in obedience to his father so we need to lay down our life for him (Jesus) and for others.

“But the disciples (followers) themselves must make an effort to remain. Remaining is not simply believing in him, though that is crucial, but includes being in union with him, sharing his thoughts, emotions, intentions and power. In a relationship both parties must be engaged. The divine must take the initiative and provide the means and the ability for the union to take place, but it cannot happen without the response of the disciple.” BibleGateway.com Commentary.

Here’s another aspect of these passages that is very encouraging to those who remain in him. He actually prunes (sanctifies) those who do remain in him and produce (good) fruit. When we remain in him, he actively works in our lives to make us more like him and this produces even more good fruit. God’s grace is incredible and at work in those who remain in him. We must respond to his pruning and allow it to happen. Cutting away the weak, unnecessary, and sick parts of our lives can be uncomfortable and often painful, but it ultimately makes us stronger and more useful to God. May God never stop the pruning.

One more interesting thing in these passages is that when we surrender to Christ and thereby begin to bear good fruit that lasts, we will be able to ask the Father for anything in the name of Jesus and it will be given to us. Wow, this is so incredible and powerful. Keep in mind that if we are truly and wholly remaining in him, what we ask will be his will and not ours.

It all begins with remaining in Jesus, obeying his command of loving others, and bearing good fruit that comes from a life surrendered and grafted into Christ.

Prayer:
Thank you Lord for Jesus. Thank you for giving us the living vine that is our salvation and life; both now and forever. We can produce no good thing apart from Jesus. Our only destination disconnected from him is death. Continue to prune me and thereby strengthening me. Make me more useful to you. May I produce more good fruit for your glory. Perfect in me a sincere love for others. Show me daily what this means and how I should live this out. Pour out your grace on me that I may love others, that I would daily lay down my life for Christ, and remain in him.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I really needed this. Thank you for posting it.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,

This is a message for the webmaster/admin here at www.blogger.com.

Can I use part of the information from your post above if I provide a backlink back to your website?

Thanks,
Oliver

Eric Jones said...

Oliver,
Go ahead and link to any of my posts.