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John 15:12-13

October 19, 2014

Were in our study of John where Jesus comforts his disciples on the night before his
death. Several of these upper room passages are misinterpreted for works, and theyre
used with guilt to make people afraid. However, everything we find here is for comfort
and joy (v. 11), and thats possible simply because of our relationship with Christ. He
describes it as a vine and branches. The vine really does all the work, but the branches
bear its fruit as a natural result. Christ is the vine, and we are the branches in him that
bear spiritual fruit, so we can rightly say that hes the source of all spiritual life.

God isnt waiting for us to get things right before hell start working in us; rather, it is
he who works in us both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Phil 2:13). He starts this
process while were sinners (Rom. 5:7-8) and before we start looking for him, so that we
are purely his handiwork, and he alone gets the glory for the good works he prepared in
advance for us to do (Eph. 2:10).

If we move away from that as the foundation then the rest of these verses become
works-oriented and cause fear, but if we stay centered on it, then we rejoice knowing
that Christ loves us and is as pleased with us as the Father is with him.

Now he says:

This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.
Greater love
hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Now, we could forget all about the vine and the branches, and I could tell you that you
need to straighten up and start loving your brother, but that would miss the point. Hes
already said his disciples are clean and that hes pleased. Commandment-keeping isnt a
threat of do or die; its indicative of his work in us. Youll have joy when you see my
fruit in you because youll know that I love you.

Now, specifically one commandment and fruit is that we love one another. We dont just
have a feeling for each other, and our love isnt reserved for those who treat us the best.
Even the Gentiles love their mothers, but Christs disciples love each other the same was
he has loved us. Again, its not just an empty command or threat: its an indication!

Think of it this way: the vine pushes nutrients on down through the branches, and thats
how they bear fruit. Well, Christ pushes his nutrients through us. We were dead but
now were alive. Were a new creation with a new heart. Once we were hostile enemies,
but now were friends and sons. This life and mind and attitude is shared with us so that
it says:

Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and
godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
Whereby are
given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of
the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
And beside
this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
And to knowledge
temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
And to godliness
brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
For if these things be in you, and
abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our
Lord Jesus Christ.
But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath
forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
Wherefore the rather, brethren, give
diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall (2
Pt. 1:2-10).

Hes given us everything that pertains to life and godliness, and by these were partakers
of the divine nature; if these are in us then well never be barren or unfruitful in the
knowledge of Jesus, and if we do them then well never fall! Again, this isnt about works;
its about proof.

Now, theres no example of love greater than when a man lays down his life for his
friends, and this is what Christ has done for us. If love defines him (or if he defines love),
then we expect to find that nutrient in the vine, and we expect that nutrient to be passed
along through the branches and result in good fruit:

We know that we have passed from death unto life, because we love the brethren. He that
loveth not his brother abideth in death.
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye
know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.
Hereby perceive we the love of God,
because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
whoso hath this worlds good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of
compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
My little children, let us not love
in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.
And hereby we know that we are of the
truth, and shall assure our hearts before him (1 Jn. 3:14-19).

If a man doesnt love his brother, then he abides in death. Think about that in relation to
the vine and branches. The fruit isnt there, so the branch is gathered up and thrown into
the fire. The branch abides in death because it receives nothing from the vine. Apart
from me you can do nothing (Jn. 15:5).

However, hereby perceive we the love of God. In other words, this is how we see Gods
love: he laid down his life for us. He says ask what ye will. The vine sets the example,
and it pushes its nature on through the branches.