52. “I am the Vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.” -Jesus is John 15:5-11
Jesus has already told us in John’s gospel that a true believer, given to Him by God the Father, won’t perish or be snatched out of the Father’s hand (John 10:28-30). Here we hear loud and clear Jesus calling those same believers to continually abide in Him in an organic relationship, like a branch connected to the vine. The life of the vine flows through the branch, and the branch bears fruit. Ultimately it is the vine producing fruit through the branch – without the vine there will be no fruit. Many religious people try through self-effort to produce fruit, only to wither up over time. Our call is to abide in Jesus, to engage Him in relationship and obey His teachings, and fruit will naturally, or we may say supernaturally, appear. Jesus here says true disciples glorify God by fruit-bearing, which means obeying God’s commands and sharing God’s love and joy with others. But no one can be assured they are “In Christ” if their life shows that they are wrapped up in selfish, ungodly pursuits. Such people should fear that they are not “in Christ.” Jesus trees bear Jesus fruit eventually – where that fruit is lacking, it may be because that person is not “In Christ.” But Jesus says the whole reason He is sharing this with His disciples (the ones He earlier in the chapter declared clean) is so that their joy may be full. He’s not trying to make them afraid of losing anything, but exhorting them to abide in Him so they’ll bear much fruit!
53. “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends. You are my friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” -Jesus in John 15:12-15
Jesus laid down his life for his friends, and we are his friends through the new birth. We are also called to love, and to lay down our lives. This is not just to die for someone. It is to set aside our agenda to spend time and help others. It’s a moment by moment, day by day call from our Savior. Isn’t it wonderful that our God calls us, His disciples, His friends! One of the mysteries of salvation is that God lets us become intimate friends with Him. This was not based on Him gaining anything by our friendship because we had anything to offer Him. Why should anyone think, then, that keeping our salvation comes in a way different than the way it came to us. God not only saved us, but is tender and patient with us as He helps us become the kind of people who love others the way they have been loved by Jesus and put others before themselves.
54. “You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. These things I command you, that you love one another.” -John 15:16-17
What? I think the disciples must have been blown away by this statement! Hadn’t Jesus come to each of them and said, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men?” Hadn’t they chosen to follow Him? Indeed they had! But here He says, “You did not choose Me, but I chose you!” There comes a time in every true believers life when they realize that it was Jesus all along who had orchestrated the events of their life so that one day they would choose Him. It wasn’t chance that made you respond for Jesus and kept you on the path you are now on – it was the grace of Jesus in making Himself known to you. You had an appointment with your God! You accepted Him, and as you walked through the door of salvation you looked back and saw written over the door from the other side, “chosen from the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4). I hope that does for you what it did for me, dear friend. It makes every day I have ever lived have meaning. Jesus was always watching out for me, and in the fullness of time, came to live in my heart! Praise God!