John 15 – Be a Fruitful Branch, Experience Joy, and Enjoy Jesus’ Friendship

HIGHLIGHTED PASSAGE – John 15:1-8

   “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.

NOTES (v 1-8) from Life Application Study Bible: 

v 1 – In the Old Testament, grapes symbolized Israel’s fruitfulness in doing God’s work on the earth. In the Passover meal, the fruit of the vine symbolized God’s goodness to his people.

Christ is the vine, God is the gardener who cares for the branches to make them fruitful.  The branches are those who claim to be followers of Christ.

The fruitful branches are true believers who by their living union with Christ produce much fruit.  But those who become unproductive – those who turn away from following Christ after making a superficial commitment – will be separated from the vine. 

v 2-3:  There are two kinds of pruning – cutting off and cutting back.  Fruitful branches are cut back to promote growth.  God must sometimes discipline us to strengthen our character and faith.  But branches that don’t bear fruit are cut off at the trunk not only because they are worthless but also because they often infect the rest of the tree.

v 5:  Fruit is not limited to soul-winning. Answered prayer, joy, and love are mentioned as fruit (15:7,11,12).  Galatians 5:22-24 and 2 Peter 1:5-8 describe additional fruit as the qualities of Christian character.

My prayer:  Lord, may I always be fruitful!

SUMMARY OF REMAINING VERSES (9-27)

 9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.  (repeated at v 17)

13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

v. 14-15

16a You didn’t choose me. I chose you.

18-24 – Jesus tells us how the unbelievers (the world) hate us.  They persecuted Him, so they will persecute those who love and follow Him.  Anyone who hates Jesus hates the Father.   They are guilty because they have seen Him do miraculous works and still refuse to believe.

25 –  Old Testament prophecy fulfilled: ‘They hated me without cause.’

26-27 – He will send the Advocate – the Holy Spirit.  The disciples (that includes us) must testify to others about Jesus. 

LESSONS 

v. 11 – Overflow with joy no matter what.  True joy transcends circumstance!    

v. 13 – Laying down your life does not mean we must die for someone like Jesus did for us.  There are other ways to practice sacrificial love:  listening, helping, encouraging, giving.  Think of someone in particular who needs this kind of love today. Give all the love you can, and then try to give a little more.

 My note – Sometimes it can be difficult shedding our self-centeredness in this busy world, but we must be willing to think of others higher than ourselves.  Whether we plan to clean the house or enjoy a leisure activity, if we can offer someone love through our time and effort, those plans can wait.

 While my kids were growing and before I became a Christian, I really did not have any close friends outside of the workplace.  If I did, I probably would not have put aside my plans to help them out.  Since Christ came into my life nine years ago, I have a group of close Christian friends.  Only through growth with Him have I been able to overcome my old selfish tendencies and ‘lay down my life’ for a friend. There are still instances, however, when my needs, my plans, win out.  It’s all a process.

 You will find, if you’re a newer Christian, that living your life by God’s principles is a process, a journey, and sometimes you’ll feel as if you take two steps forward and one back.  Don’t let it get you down.  Just “keep swimming” as our little Disney fish friend would say.

V 15 – Because Jesus Christ is Lord and Master, he should call us servants; instead, he calls us friends.  How comforting and reassuring to be chosen as His friends! 

V 16 – Jesus made the first choice – to love and to die for us, to invite us to live with him forever.  We make the next choice – to accept or reject his offer.  Without His choice, we would have no choice to make. 

If you haven’t already, I pray that you accept his offer today.  Commit your life to Christ. 

V 17 – Christians get plenty of hatred from the world. From each other we need love and support.  Do you allow small problems to get in the way of loving other believers? Jesus commands that you love them, and he will give you the strength to do it.

The full chapter from Bible Gateway:  http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2015&version=NLT

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