John 15:9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. [NRSV]
That kind of complete love is one of the biggest challenges our faith calls us to recognize. We struggle because we know our own well-kept secrets. The wonder of the love of God revealed to us in Jesus Christ is that He knows all our secrets too and He still finds us lovable. Accepting and acting in accordance with Jesus and His complete love is where hope triumphs over the secrets that have kept us from being “love”able.
Romans 5:5 ..and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.
John 15:8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become [be] my disciples.
One of the “biggest” ideas of Scripture is distilled to an absolute and simple truth in this one verse. It’s the will of God. It begins, “My Father is glorified by this…” Surprisingly it’s not a list of things you must do but the more subtle and important variation between the words “become” and the footnoted [be]. Growth is focused on “becoming.” Glorifying God is focused on “being what you’ve become.” Those two forms of the same word are the distilled reality of living in God’s will.
BE: “exist, have life, breathe
Knowing the will of God seems impossibly big but Jesus has clearly identified how simple it is: bearing fruit and being a disciple of His. The one who exists to BE in Christ is simply and absolutely living in the will of God. The will of God is not a struggle of the mind to grasp all the “shoulds” and do them. The will of God doesn’t require perfection; Jesus has got that! The Word of God is not a crib sheet with the right answers to all the questions that haven’t come up yet.
When God breathed life into Adam He established drawing breath as evidence of life. God in his sovereign will has chosen Jesus and the Holy Spirit and given us the Word to breathe His life into us. Every breath taken “accepting and acting in accordance [abiding] with” Jesus is simple and absolute proof of life that glorifies God and confirms you are in His will and you will bear fruit. Just abide and breathe!
John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. [NRSV]
If you “accept and act in accordance with” Jesus what He says will establish a relationship of life between Himself and you. What makes that matter is this reality: Jesus IS God. The first assurance of John 15:7 is when you “abide” with Jesus, God Himself is alive within you and He understands the reality of whatever you ask. That makes His answer perfect for what He knows you need. The second assurance is God’s answer comes with a greater blessing “if you abide in” Jesus and let his words “abide in you.” Your relationship of life with Jesus makes you living evidence of the glory of God.
John 15:6 Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. [NRSV]
Jesus is the appointed, reliable judge of the presence of life or the serious results of lack of it. His intent in that judgment is to encourage life and growth even if it requires some dramatic pruning.
Abiding is the challenge Jesus is asking us to accept in the truth of verse 6. Abiding with Jesus is the choice that does more than just preserve life as it was. [Preserve means to keep something in its original form or keep it in good condition]. Abiding – accepting and acting with – Jesus is the choice that will protect [Protect means to keep away from harm or danger] our life in Him. We are not alone because He is WITH us.
John 15:5 I 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. [NRSV]
So far John 15 has been all about repetition. Over and over these verses have reminded us our purpose is to abide in the “true” vine. [Down through Jewish history the vine became the symbol of Israel. During the Macabees period of history, the symbol of the vine was on the coins of Israel. It was over the main doors of the synagogues. (Antiquities of the Jews by Jewish historian, Josephus (5.5.4)] The symbol of the vine had become more about the nation than God. Even the purchase of gold to add a branch or a single grape to those synagogue vines could be considered an act of worship.
It’s easy to be distracted from what “true” worship is and the fruit it’s meant to produce. Jesus says “Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.” Jesus’ challenge is to accept this one truth: a relationship to Him is the reality of a connection to God Himself. He is the only “true” vine and the branches are carefully, and artfully cultivated and pruned to produce the “true” fruit of worship: “to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” [Westminster]
John 15:4 Abide 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.
Abide; accept or act in accordance with
It’s important when a word is used four times in the two short sentences of verse 4. Abide is a familiar word but it’s not commonly used today. Abide becomes the reality of “word to live by” when you plug the definition into those four places.
Accept or act in accordance with Me as I accept or act in accordance with you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it accept[s] or act[s] in accordance with the vine, neither can you unless you accept or act in accordance with me.
When you accept or act in accordance with the life of Jesus and recognize His life is bearing fruit in you…then your fruit can happen.
Truth; John 15:3 You have already been cleansed [or pruned] by the word that I have spoken to you. [NRSV]
Inspiration: Remember the Apostle Peter? Remember how he protested when Jesus wanted to wash his feet? Jesus’s response to Peter sounds just like John 15:3 to me – ”you’ve already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you.
Reality: OK, this is a test! Get a pencil and paper and write down the first five true things you remember Jesus has spoken personally into your heart. Write them in the order you remember them without any concern about a timeline. It doesn’t have to be a complete list and they don’t have to be written as verbatim scripture but they do have to be real to you. AND THIS IS KEY: don’t go back and edit them in any way as you read them again. [you know it’s me I’m talking to]. The important thing is they ARE written in the order you remember them.
[ •Test IS the root word of test meaning “to bear witness.” Do not confuse this root test with the same word which means examination. It is true that when you take an examination you are a witness for your own knowledge and, unless you cheat, you are showing what you do or don’t know. However, here the word means a solemn telling of the truth of what you know, bearing witness for truth’s sake.
You may have already had the experience of writing or giving your testimony. You know how difficult it is to distill the most important things Jesus has done for you from the many really good things that have happened in your life without turning it into an “I was and now I am” testimony. I believe the results of your test are listed in the priority of their impact on you specifically. Can you believe the things you just wrote down are an accurate recounting of Jesus and the Holy Spirit verifying “you have already been cleansed”? If you can, that belief can make your list the perfect outline that moves what you wrote from that examination kind of “test” to the root of a new “testimony.” A testimony that bears witness for truth’s sake to the I AM. My wish would be that you would use your results and write your own new kind of testimony.
This is my own “unedited” list. My new testimony is only to show you an example of how effectively it can work.
1. I have been crucified with Christ. I have scars but they’re part of the testimony of my healing.
2. There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus
3. Jesus will complete the work he’s begun in me
4. The greatest of these is love
5. Lord help my heart, soul, mind an strength
Nobody wants to admit their inability to deal with life or being wounded. Even healing can leave scars. I want my scars to be changed from something that needs to be hidden to evidence of blessing. I want to be like Jesus. I want Him to be the power that allows me to believe and live as if I have “already been cleansed. ” I want to view those scars as the revelation of a changed heart not a sign of condemnation. I want to believe my soul has caught a glimpse of promised immortality, my mind has been challenged by the Word of God and I really do have the strength to live by the words Jesus has spoken into my heart – I AM “the word that I have spoken to you.”