“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
Read the passage several times and note anything that stands out to you or questions that come to mind. THEN, ponder the following questions as a way to help you ponder these verses. (Some of the questions are hyperlinked and will give you some help with the answer)
Note the context of when Jesus says this. What did it follow and what did it precede? Explain how the context of John 15 is the key to understanding the metaphor of the vine and the branches.
In verse 1 Jesus proclaims his 8th “I Am” statement when He says “I am the true vine.” What is significant about His use of the word “true”?
Jesus starts out with a warning (v.2). Why does He do this and what does He mean? Note the distinction between the Father’s works of punishing and pruning the branches.
Why can’t a fruitless branch represent a Christian? In what sense are the fruitless branches “in” Christ? (v.2)
Why is it necessary to diligently prune the branches of the vine? Have you experienced any “pruning” in your life recently? How so?
The key word in this passage is “abide.” It is mentioned 10x in these verses. What does the word “abide” mean?
List some of the benefits that “abiding in Christ” brings:
Jesus mentions 2 specific ways that believers can abide. What are they:
v.7 Abide in His __________________! What are some practical ways to do this?
v.9 Abide in His __________________! What are some practical ways to do this?
Read the following excerpt from a message preached by Ray Stedman -make note of anything that captures your attention then ponder the questions that follow…
In Verses 7-11, are four marvelous evidences of fruit. First,
“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you.” (John 15:7 RSV)
The first evidence of a fruitful life is the impact of answered prayer. You become effective. The work you are seeking to do accomplishes something. You ask whatever you will need for that work, and it is granted. Notice our Lord links this closely to “his words,” not the word “logos,” which means the whole of the Bible, but the word “rhema,” which means the specific promises of the Bible.
We must never forget that prayer and promise are linked together. Prayer is not a way of getting God to do what you want him to do, rather it is asking him to do what he has promised to do. We pray according to the promises. So if you want to make your prayers effective begin to read and study the promises of God. When you do, you will pray according to the mind and will of God. And, as Jesus says, whatever you ask will be done. It may take a long time sometimes, but it will be done. That is his promise.
Then Verse 8:
“By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” (John 15:8 RSV)
Here is a life of glorifying witness. I am sure there are a hundred or more people here who could testily that they became Christians because they saw a dramatic change in the life of someone else. That is the impact of a fruitful life. It is evident in the life of a prominent Christian such as Chuck Colson, that hardhearted, ruthless “hatchet man” of the Nixon administration who once said he would run over his own grandmother to accomplish his goals. The work of Christ changed him. His ministry of working in the prisons of this country is an eloquent testimony that God has changed him.
Then Verses 9-10:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I 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.” (John 15:9-10 RSV)
Once again Jesus touches upon the gift of his love. Jude, the half-brother of Jesus, says: “Keep yourselves in the love of God,” (Jude 21). There is hardly a more important admonition in the Bible. That is the answer to the great problem of today — the sense of meaninglessness and worthlessness that many people have. Do you know why people feel insecure and worthless, and try to cover it up by boasting and projecting an image of success? It is because, deep inside, they feel worthless and rejected. The way to feel worthwhile is to realize that God loves you. You belong to him. Jesus loves you. The Father loves you. You are dear and precious to him. His whole work with you is to help you discover all that he has made you to be. Thus he gives you back your humanity.
There is a familiar story of Dr. Karl Barth, the great theologian, who was once asked, “What is the most profound truth you have ever discovered in the Scripture?” This man, who has been called the greatest theologian of the twentieth century, said, “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” That is it! The sign of it will be an increasing sense of confidence and inner security.
Then the last evidence of fruit:
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:11 RSV)
What was his joy? In the 12th chapter of the book of Hebrews there is a verse that says of Jesus, “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame,” (Hebrews 12:2b RSV). What was it that filled his heart with joy as he faced the cross, and enabled him to go through that terrible ordeal? It was the expectation that he would be the instrument of redemption for the entire world — that a host, a great harvest of people, would be changed and redeemed and restored, their humanity given back to them — by his action. In other words, his joy was the joy of being used of God.
I want to tell you there is no joy like that. I have seen men who were prominent leaders of industry actually tremble and weep with the joy of realizing that God had just used them to change someone else’s life. Last week a man in this congregation said to me. “I’ve got it made. I don’t need anything materially. But I am not satisfied with that. I have such a desire to be used of God.”
That is the greatest joy anyone can know. There is the inheritance of the believer — love, joy, peace. “Peace I leave with you, my joy may be in you.” As we go through the various experiences God brings into our lives, this is the fruit that he produces. What a wonderful fruit it is. May it be abundant in our hearts these days.
What do you make of this statement: “So if you want to make your prayers effective begin to read and study the promises of God. When you do, you will pray according to the mind and will of God.” Does this reflect the way that you pray?
To what degree do you experience the fullness of God’s joy? What does Stedman say is the key to this? In what ways are you being used by God?
What personal and practical applications can you make from this passage?
If you have time, check out this excellent article as well that discusses what dependence on The True Vine feels like.