John 15

John 15 Devotions
by Pastor Mark Hudson

Here is an easy way to look at John 15:  1-16 is the vine and the branches; 15:17-16:4a is Opposition from the world.  This would be a difficult chapter  to misunderstand.  Yet maybe not so easy to plumb the depths of this chapter.  First, of all the analogies Christ could have used, why did He use the vine analogy? For one reason, the vine analogy is a common one in the O.T.  See Ps. 80 for example.  The vine is a common plant for people in Israel.  Almost everyone could understand how a vine and branches work together.  Another reason could be the issue of life and vitality in the relationship with the vine and branches which is precisely what our Lord intended to convey.  The vine/branch analogy captures the life the branch receives from the vine as well as the absence of life in the branch cut off from the vine.

Abiding is a verb repeated 10 times in this chapter.   This word which can also mean ‘remain’ is the emphasis Jesus intends.  Other branches that are dead are removed. We see the Father fulfilling two objectives: pruning those branches that bear fruit and taking away those that do not.  Both actions are to produce fruit.  The Father wants luscious, long-lasting fruit.  A Christian life should produce fruit.

Fruit is not spelled out here.  We may refer to other passages in the Bible for that.  However, there are some characteristics that He does spell out.  One is to have His word abide in us (v. 7, 10 and any time you see the word “commandment” or “word” or “law”).  God is not quiet.  He speaks and His Word has been preserved.  We cannot divorce His Word from Christ.  Well, I take that back.  Many people do and they incur God’s wrath: both present and future.

We are also to abide in Christ’s love.  You may notice that to abide in His love is to keep His commandments (v.10) and His love is part of the Trinitarian love between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.  His love is objective regulated by commands as we see in vs. 10, 12, 14, and 18.    Abiding in Christ yields fruit in your prayers as we see in v. 7.  “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you”

Moving down to vs. 18-25 we discover the resistance we encounter with the world.  This same resistance is what Christ experienced during His humiliation on the earth.  Christ says in v. 19, “If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”  I love the way Christ teaches.  There is not one big word in that verse, yet the profundity is unlimited.  He explains a concept full of nuances and complexities with one verse.  Jesus uses the word hate in vs. 18-19.  The world, as John uses the word here, does not mean the natural world but human beings who oppose God in their thinking, words, actions and in their hearts. The world is hostile to God and so was every Christian until God changes our hearts and the inclination of our minds.

In v. 20ff, Jesus reminds us that there are various responses to the gospel.  One is persecution. Though not all people are violent, some are.  Not all get angry enough to murder, but some do.  There are some who respond in faith “kept My word” ( v. 20) and so others will respond positively.  However, we should not assume we will only receive good responses.  One minister reflected on his ministry compared to the Apostle Paul.  He said, “When I arrive somewhere they serve tea.  When Paul arrives, there is a riot.”  Well, not always.  Some respond in faith and some throw rocks.  Neither should surprise us.  Maybe what should sober us is if we consistently get only one response.

One other aspect of John’s gospel is that Jesus identifies so closely with the Father that receiving Christ is receiving the Father (Jn 5:43) and believing in Christ is believing in God the Father (14:1).  Christ says the Father sent Christ into the world (4:34; 5:23),  and honoring the Son is honoring the Father (5:23).  In chapter 15, Jesus says,“Whoever hates Me hates My Father also.”  What a strong, strong word to those who reject Christ.  His words are not hard to understand but the morally blind pervert and twist His words.  Some of those twisters are ministers and so-called believers.  But Jesus knows they have “hated both Me and My Father: in v. 24.

Our Lord ends this passage by teaching them about the Holy Spirit, the third Person in the Trinity.  How little they understood at the time, but they would understand soon enough.  The disciples need this teaching because of the hardships they would soon endure.  Christ is the One who sends the Spirit “from the Father” once again reminding them of the Triune love and nature of God.

Dear Father, we want to abide in You and love You.  We often do not remain.  We drift away; we wander off, and we lose our way.  Remind us how essential it is to remain connected to You and to receive nourishment and life from You.  We are blessed with many helps along the Christian life, but we must resolve to abide in Your love and Your word.  How we need You.  Restore us.  Revive us. Forgive us.  May we be more like Christ and much less like our old nature.  In the glorious name of the eternal Son of Man.  Amen.