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.
18"If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. 19If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. 20Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also. 21They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me. 22If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not be guilty of sin. Now, however, they have no excuse for their sin. 23He who hates me hates my Father as well. 24If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. 25But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: 'They hated me without reason.'
26"When the Counselor comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father, he will testify about me. 27And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning. (NIV)
We continue with Jesus speaking to his disciples. Jesus is helping them to live without him being physically present which is how we live. They have had Jesus for three years to ask questions and to listen, even if they didn’t always understand what Jesus was trying to tell them.
But here Jesus puts for a lesson on being a true believer. And note the progression. He begins with the concept of a grapevine in a vineyard. He is the main vine and God the Father is the gardener who prunes the main vine. We are the branches and we can only bear fruit in this life attached to the main vine. And we can only bear the most abundant fruit when we are pruned properly.
And notice that a believer first and foremost, stays connected to Christ. And one of the signs that we are connected is that we bear fruit. We are created to bear fruit for the glory of God. We all have a gift and a calling. These gifts and calling are unique to each of us. And we glorify God when we bear fruit for the world to see. He is reminding the disciples and us, we have work to do, good work and as Paul would later write in Ephesians, work God has already prepared in advance for us to do.
Then notice the transition. To remain in Christ is to remain in His love. I think we need to remind ourselves at time that we are loved and not just with any love, but a love that sacrificed all so that at the end of this journey on earth, we are welcomed home into an eternal joy and peace. (Verse 13) Jesus then makes the transition that our work is to Love first. We are to love each other as he loved us. (Verse 12) Christ is our model of Love.
And then Jesus reminds the disciples that there will be strong opposition to their work and their loving as he loves. We are going to be hated, set aside, made fun of, demeaned and even looked down on as we live out our faith. And there will be times it will cost us our very lives. While we don’t see the physical death here in the US really anymore, it still happens across the world. The world, which is Satan’s realm today, does not want us to succeed.
The early church took this concept to levels we don’t see anymore. For the early church when, the people were hated and persecuted, they celebrated and stove to work harder because they knew they were being successful. I have warned churches that I have helped turn around that as they begin to do things, they will experience a time of trouble, bickering and struggle. I tell them, when this happen, throw a party and celebrate because you are beginning to show the first buds of fruit.
We need to learn to celebrate our sufferings. Paul said it plain, rejoice in your sufferings. It sound strange, but suffering for Christ means new life is happening.
How do you see yourself connected to Christ? How do you stay connected to Christ? What does it mean for you to love as Christ loved? And then the really big question, can you rejoice in your suffering?
Blessings and Peace