Today’s passage is a continuation of Jesus’ call for those who follow him to remain attached to him. But he has switched analogies from vines, gardeners, branches and fruit to using the analogy of loving someone. What Jesus is saying in this short passage is that in order for you to bear fruit you must remain in his love.
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I 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. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit —fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.—15:9-17
Love unites a disciple to Christ as a branch is united to the vine. Bearing fruit is not just a possibility if a disciple remain in Christ; it is a certainty. Jesus’ followers are encouraged to remain in his love because he loves them just as the Father loves him. A means of remaining in his love is to obey his Father’s commands. Jesus defined love as obedience, not an emotional feeling. The believer’s joy is not the result of an easy life but the result of a life wholly devoted to Christ.
Verses 12-17 begin and end with the command for the disciples to love one another. The standard for love is Christ’s love. His love ultimately would be demonstrated in his death, but it was also evident in the intimate friendship and confidentiality Jesus had developed with his disciples. Jesus chose the disciples and appointed them to be his emissaries. As they lived a life of mission for Jesus, they would bear lasting fruit. Fruit bearing, in this context, is connected closely with evangelism and answered prayer. Believers are to hold nothing back when they pray. On the one hand, their prayers shouldn’t be for selfish, worldly desires. On the other hand, they should take all aspects of their lives to Jesus to prayer. Their prayers are guided by God’s Word and Christ’s glory. Jesus concluded this section as it began, with the admonition to “love each other.”
Now let’s look at four things that we should glean from this short section in John chapter 15:
- Obedience produces a deeper relationship with Jesus.—The Son wants us to enjoy the intimate kind of loving relationship with him that he enjoys with Father (vv. 9-10).
- Joy is internal stability in spite of external circumstances because of the knowledge that God is in control. It is a settled assurance and quiet confidence in God’s sovereignty that results in the decision to praise him (v. 11).
- Biblical love is the decision to compassionately, righteously, responsibly and sacrificially seek the well-being of another. You can love people whom you may not necessarily like because love is not dependent on your feelings. That’s why Jesus can command you to “love your enemies” (Matthew 5:44). It’s true that love may include feelings of affection, and such feelings may develop over time. But it’s not driven by them. Love is driven by sacrifice for the welfare of others. And the greatest expression of love is to “lay down one’s life for…friends” (John 15:13). That’s the kind of love Jesus modeled for us (vv. 12-13).
- A master doesn’t reveal things to a servant, but a friend would reveal things to his friends.
And finally to wrap our discussion of this first section of John chapter I am going to leave you with these words. When the Bible refers to God’s choice (or election) of people, it’s a choosing for service, not salvation. Jesus chose his disciples so that they would produce fruit that would be useful to his kingdom and reflect God’s character. He didn’t simply save them for heaven only; he appointed them to a mission on earth that would involve winning people to Christ and growing them in the faith. And the same is true for every single one of us today who has chosen to follow Christ. Because we have all been appointed to the same mission that Christ’s first disciples were appointed, and we are to go out and accomplish that mission through the power of the Holy Spirit, whom Jesus has sent just as he promised that he would. And we will pick up from here tomorrow as we move into the last section of John chapter 15.
Tomorrow’s Bible Readings:
1 Kings 14:1-15:25, Acts 10:1-23, Psalm 133:1-3 and Proverbs 17:7-8
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