John 15: 1-17
If you’re a Christian then I’m sure you know this passage. Jesus gives us an awesome picture of our relationship to Him, by comparing us to branches connected to a vine. As long as we are connected to him, drawing strength and nutrients from Him, we will produce good fruit in our life. Pretty cool huh.
As I read this passage this morning, I noticed a new detail. “If you obey my commands, you wil remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my father and remain in His love”. So there you go. That’s how you “remain connected to the vine.” Jesus was a pretty practical guy, he didn’t just leave us with fluffy metaphores. So, that raises the question – ‘what are Jesus’ commands?’
Jesus wasn’t huge on commands, it wasn’t quite His way. The big rule-makers of the day were the pharisees and Jesus condmned them for adding un-necessary burdens onto the people. If we look through the gospels though, we will find that he gave us some commands, but we only need to read on a bit, because Jesus continues to explain further.
The rest of this passage is about love, and the passage ends with “This is my commandment: Love each other.” Don’t you just love how Jesus breaks through all the junk and gets right to the heart of the matter. Earlier, in John 13:34 He said ‘”A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.’ In Matthew 22:36-40 Jesus says that all the law and prophets hang on the greatest two commandments: “the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind”, and “‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” I think you would be hard-pressed to find a commandment of Jesus that didn’t fall under the umbrella of loving God or loving others.
Okay, so what does it really mean to love each other? Jesus goes into this too. “My Command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that he lay own his life for his friends.” Jesus certainly put his money where his mouth was on this one, as He gave his life for us out of love. Jesus is descriing the ultimate act of love, to give up everything, even your own life, for another. Any understanding of love must work back from this. Love is about putting another ahead of yourself. Love is bout giving, and sacrificing, and respecting.
So, we need to be connected to the vine, and we do that by obeying Jesus’ command to love God and love others, and then we get the fruit. Cool! But what is the fruit? Is this talking about ‘number of people we will lead to Christ’, or ‘how succesful our church will be’? Galatians 5:22-23 tells us what the fruit is: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” Dunno about you, but I could sure use more of that stuff in my life.
It doesn’t get much more practical than this, so let’s do it.