About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
Vine And The Branches (ch. 15:1-17)
could be wrong but I tend to believe that chapters 15 through 17 , or a
least chapters 15 through 16 were spoken by Jesus in the upper room as they
were about to leave.
Jesusí prayer in chapter 17 may have been prayed in the upper room
or maybe somewhere else, like the Garden of
Jesus spoke this chapter, in verse 1 He now relates an allegory to the
Jesus says that He is "the true vine and His Father is the
This is just one more analogy in a long list of analogies found in
the book of John.
These men would understand this analogy because they were used to
seeing grape vines used in the production of wine.
Jesus says that He is "the true vine."
By implication this suggests that there are false vines, which I
believe would be in reference to the Jewish religious system of the day.
the Old Testament Israel at times was referred to as a grape vine, but, when
it is, it is always in connection with God's judgment of Israel. See
Isaiah 5:1 to 7 as one example.
The fact of the matter is that Jesus, not the Jewish religious
system, is the true vine.
also says that His Father is the gardener.
It is God who looks after the vine.
It is God who rips up the garden to replant.
It is God's garden and He can do whatever He wants, as we see in
suggest that when Jesus says in verse 2 that the Father cuts off those
branches that do not bare fruit, He is talking about unfaithful Jews, those
Jews who have rejected Him.
is a major difference between cutting off and pruning.
If a branch is cut off a true, it no longer is part of the tree.
When a branch is pruned, it still remains part of the tree.
The cut off branch dies.
The pruned branch lives and is more healthy than ever.
again, in verse 2 Jesus says that God will cut the branches off of the vine
that donít bring forth fruit.
This indeed happened to Israel. Paul
uses this same analogy in his discourse in Romans 9 through 11.
Paul says that God has cut off those Jews from the vine, or tree as
he puts it, and has replaced those branches with true believers in Jesus. This
is what Jesus is saying here.
all Jews were cut off because there were some who did have faith in Jesus.
For these, and for Gentile branches that would be grafted in, God
would prune in order to bring forth more fruit.
By pruning we mean that God will clean up the branches that have some
will take away any dead leaves and possible trim the branch back a bit.
This may hurt but in the long run it helps the branch bring forth
is true in the life of the believer.
If we forsake Jesus and become a dead branch, bearing no fruit, then
He will cut us off.
We loose our salvation, or so I think.
On the other hand, if we are true believers and we have some fruit,
God would like us to produce more fruit, so He prunes us.
The pruning can be through lifeís circumstances, direct
intervention by God in some way, or whatever way He sees fit.
Pruning is never nice and easy.
It can be hard at times, but if we survive, we become stronger and
words "cut off" in this verse have been debated for centuries.
It's the debate between those who believe in eternal security and
those who believe you can lose your salvation.
These two words are often seen in the Old Testament in relation to
Israelis being cut off from being from God's people.
As far as I understand, if you are cut off from anything, including
Jesus, you are no longer a part of that which you have been cut off from.
I see being cut off from Jesus as losing one's salvation.
I can't see it saying anything else.
I believe what Jesus says later will confirm this.
verse 3 Jesus says that these eleven apostles "are already clean."
Jesus is now talking about being cleaned, maybe in terms that they
have already been pruned, although we know they would have a lot more
pruning to endure.
Why were they already pruned?
Jesus says because of the word I have spoken to you.
Jesus spoke the words of salvation.
These men had accepted these words and gave themselves to Jesus, thus
they were cleaned.
Remember, back in chapter 13 in responding to Peter, Jesus told the
disciples that they were clean.
They had taken a bath.
They simply needed their feet washed.
They just needed to have the worldliness cleansed from them. These
eleven men were saved.
There was no doubt about that.
They had not been cut off from the vine.
we come to Jesus we are cleaned as well. Does
this mean that we donít need any more cleaning or pruning? No,
that is not the case.
We can go back to Jesusí analogy of the foot washing as I've
He told us clearly then that we have taken a bath if we trust in Him,
but, from time to time we need to clean our feet because of worldliness that
we pick up as we walk through this world.
The same is true here.
We have been pruned at initial salvation, but from time to time need
extra pruning because of sin and the worldís influence on us.
verse 4 Jesus tells these men that they must remain in Him.
They cannot produce fruit on their own.
If we donít remain in Jesus, we will soon die, meaning, we will
soon loose our faith and in turn loose our salvation.
Jesus remaining in us and we remaining in Him means that the
connection we have with Him through the Holy Spirit must remain in tact.
It is this connection that brings salvation to us. This connection
must be strengthened as we live our lives with Jesus.
think this command to remain in Jesus might well suggest that it is possible
that we will not always remain in Jesus.
Again, those who believe in eternal security would believe that if
some depart from remaining in Jesus they don't lose their salvation.
They simply lose their fellowship with Jesus.
I don't see it that way.
If you don't remain in Jesus, you will be cut off from Him, and, if
you are cut of from Him, you have no part of Him.
That suggests a loss of salvation.
verse 5 Jesus clearly says that if He remains in us and we in Him, we will
bring forth much fruit.
There is no question about it.
Now the amount of fruit may vary from person to person, but there
will be fruit.
Remember the analogy of the sower who sows seed.
The seed that falls on good ground produces 60, 80, or 100 fold in
Not all produce the same amount of fruit.
So, we should not compare ourselves to each other.
There are valid reasons why some are more fruitful than others.
is something else to consider when thinking of producing fruit.
Jesus said, "by their fruit you will know them" (Matthew
simply means that if you do not see any fruit in one who says he is a
Christian, then he is not a Christian.
It's not a matter of judging that person.
It's a matter of recognizing who that person is.
If you look at an apple tree and see its apples, you know it is an
apple tree and not an orange three.
It's not rocket science.
Jesus says "apart from me you can do nothing," hat is, nothing of
any consequence as you serve Him.
Sure, we can do lots of things without Jesus, but if we think we are
verse 6 Jesus describes the branch that tries to live on its own.
He says it will be cut off the vine and is gathered up and burned in
the fire. I
believe the word "firs" and the word "burned" is an
allusion to the
verse 7 Jesus repeats what He says in the last chapter.
He says it slightly different though.
He says that if we remain in Him and His words remain in us we can
ask "what we wish" and it will be done.
He doesnít say anything about asking in the name of Jesus here, but
that does not neglect that truth which we learned in the last chapter.
We ask in accordance with Godís will in Jesus' name.
Jesus is not saying that we should ask for every little thing our
hearts desire and crave after.
As a matter of fact, I believe the context of this asking shows us
what to ask for.
The context tells us to ask for things that help us produce fruit for
context does not suggest we ask for a new car and lots of money.
verse 8 Jesus basically says that you prove that you are my disciples if you
bring forth fruit, which in turn gives glory to His Father.
In the last chapter Jesus says that people will know that we are His
disciples if we love each other. Now He says that people will know that you
are His disciples if you bear fruit.
believe verse 8 confirms what I just said. It's to God the Father's glory
that we produce much fruit.
The way in which we produce much fruit is by remaining in Jesus and
having His word remain in us.
Then we can ask for such things that will help us produce fruit.
Concerning the word remaining in us, I see the word to be the Bible.
We cannot produce fruit if we neglect the Bible.
It's the spiritual fertilization that produces fruit.
really does producing fruit mean?
It means that there should be things in our lives that give evidence
that we have given ourselves to Jesus.
Our way of living should be godly and loving.
We should be doing things that bring glory to Jesus and helps build
His Kingdom and the Body of Christ.
If none of these things are evident in a life, then we can question
whether a person is a true believer.
verses 9 and 10 Jesus says that the Father has loved Him and He has remained
in the Fatherís love.
The proof of this love was that Jesus obeyed God His Father.
In like fashion Jesus wants these eleven men to know that He loves
them and He wants them to remain in His love.
The way in which they, and we, can remain in the love of Jesus is to
obey Him says Jesus.
That means to put our trust in Him and do whatever He wants us to do.
Much of what Jesus wants us to do is seen in the Bible, thus it is
important to do as the Bible says.
Jesus has been saying these things for the last few chapters.
It's all about having a good relationship with Him and a good
relationship is based on obedience.
verse 11 Jesus speaks about joy on this solemn occasion.
He says that what He has been saying should put His joy into the
lives of the believers and make their joy complete.
We see two joys here.
One joy is from Jesus, and the other joy is a natural joy that we
Christians we can have Jesusí joy and we can also have human joy elevated
to a higher level than what we are used to.
Joy is not necessarily bouncy happiness.
Joy to me is a deeper rooted thing than simply being happy.
Christian joy is a matter of the heart that comes from a life of
contentment to Jesus.
on what version of the Bible you read the word "joy" appears about
16 times, 8 of which appears in John 15.
12 tells us one of the commands of Jesus that we need to obey in order to
stay in His love and experience His joy and our joy to its fullest.
It must be important because He specifies it.
The command is to love one another, or, as the Greek text puts it,
"continue to love one another."
Love is not an option.
It's a command that will keep us, not only in Jesus' love, but also
keeps Jesus' joy in our hearts.
We should realize that if we don't obey this command we have problems
We can't have the joy we aspire and that Jesus has promised us.
If we have problems with Jesus then things are not going to go as
they should as individual Christians and as the church.
This is why we are so divided in today's church.
We do not love as we should.
verse 13 Jesus tells us what kind of love He is speaking of.
He is speaking of a Godly love that lays down oneís life for his
brother, just as He Himself was about to do for us.
Godís love requires sacrifice.
Love without sacrifice is not Godís love.
It is this kind of love that Jesus commands us to have for one
kind of selfless love does not come natural to any of us.
We are inherently selfish.
Only submission to Jesus can help us overcome our selfishness so we
can lay down our lives for those to whom Jesus has joined us.
Only obedience to Jesus can produce this kind of love in our lives.
In this passage, love is associated with obedience.
clearly says that "greater love has no man than this, that he lay down
his life for his friends." He
then says that these eleven men, and us too, are His friends if we obey His
we donít obey Him then we can conclude that we are not friends of Jesus.
We arenít friends, not because of Jesus lack of desire to be
friends, but because of our choice not to obey Him.
idea that being Jesus' friend depends on obedience to Him is hard to figure
out in our modern world. We
think of true friends as not placing demands on each other.
When thinking of true friends we don't ask them to obey us, but this
is not the case with Jesus. Friendship
verse 15 Jesus tells the eleven men that they are no longer servants to Him
but friends because He has told them everything they need to know.
How great it is for us to know that Jesus considers us friends.
That being the case, you will note that the Apostle Paul, and really
other early apostles, did consider themselves as Christ's servants.
However, they believed they were servants by choice, not by
constraint on the part of Jesus.
verse 16 Jesus says that these eleven men did not choose Him but He chose
true this is.
Jesus was the one who went up to these men and told them to follow
Him, yet, beyond this choosing comes a sending.
Jesus sent these men to bear fruit.
Jesus not only chooses us to be with Him which is relational, but He
sends us out as His representatives to do things that produce fruit.
Our relationship with Jesus is both relational and functional.
We are to be friends with Him and yet work for Him as well.
He is both friend and boss.
Jesus says here is often used to defend predestination, but I don't think it
is Jesus talking to here?
He is talking to eleven men, not the human race.
He says that He chose them.
He says that He appointed them.
These words should not be taken to include all of mankind.
That being said, I believe in the cross of Christ, Jesus has chosen
that all men to be saved.
To have this salvation realized into one's life then "whosoever
will believe" will be saved.
Also remember that back in chapter 6 Jesus said that no one can come
to Him unless, by the Holy Spirit, the Father draws him to Jesus.
We can preach the gospel until we are blue in the face but without
the Holy Spirit leading a person to Jesus, that person will not find Jesus.
fruit that Jesus wants us to produce is "fruit that will last." So
often we produce fruit that rots way too quickly.
The results of things we do for Jesus and the things He does within
us should not be temporary.
They should be long lasting.
We are not in a one hundred yard dash.
We are in a marathon, and we need to complete the race.
then says, "then the Father will give you anything you ask in my
You see the qualifications of asking the Father for things here.
First of all what we ask for must be in His name, in His service.
Secondly we can only ask if we are being productive in bearing good
is not a matter of naming it and claiming it as the Prosperity Gospel
is so important to understand that it is Jesus and Jesus alone that
initiates our salvation.
We see this here.
It is impossible for us to decide to come to Jesus and be saved.
It's all about Him and His timing.
He is the one who calls and appoints.
It's His will, not our will.
section ends with Jesus stating the command He wants these men to obey, and
that is that they love one another.
How many times has He said this in this chapter?
Remember these are some of the last words of exhortation that He is
giving His disciples.
They must be important to Him.