The year was 1988; my senior year in high school. Five guys had this inspiring idea (for most of us since childhood) to form a rock band and perform live. Since junior high we had dreamed about starting a rock band and the time was finally here. We had all progressed over the years as musicians and we were ready to form this nameless band (I think the name we eventually chose was Crossfire) and begin our quest for world domination (or so we thought). I can still remember Jamie, Todd, Frank, Scott and I came up with the idea to showcase our band at our schools talent show. For months we practiced in the basement of our drummer’s parent’s home. They were so accommodating and encouraging. Occasionally we would hear his mother yell down to the basement, “Scott turn it down!” We began working on our set list…four songs would suffice. We would do one from Black Sabbath, one from Gun’s and Roses, one from Motley Crue and one from Buddy Holly. It was an odd set list but it was our set list.
We practiced tirelessly and for moths on end. We played the songs over and over until we had them down pat. We were so excited and couldn’t wait to debut our rock band before the entire high school. The guys and I were determined to NOT look like fools. After all this is what we were made to do.
The months passed and the day of the show had finally come. The final bell rang ending the school day and we all began preparations for the evening’s big show. We set up the sound system, built a drum riser, tuned the guitars, did a sound check and waited anxiously for show time. I remember being apprehensive, nervous, confident and yes a little terrified. This was the moment we had been preparing for. This was the night we had all been anticipating. Maple Grove Junior/Senior High School was going to witness the debut of a band that was one day going to rule the radio airwaves…or so we though. The five of us waited backstage for all the acts before us to finish. Finally it was our time. We grabbed our instruments and positioned ourselves on stage. I remember thinking, “This is it! This is what I am going to do for the rest of my life. This is my purpose, my reason for existing.”
The house lights went down. The stage lights went off. I heard a bit of commotion to my left. Jamie is yelling, “I can’t see! I can’t see my guitar neck to know where I am!” I say, “It’s just an E chord… We’ve done this song a million times we can do this.” He walks over to the curtain opens it just enough to let the spot light in and finds his position… and then the curtain opens. This is moment we had all been waiting for! There was no turning back. It was our time to shine...
(Read John 18:1 - 18)
I tell you this story because as I was studying this passage I was reminded of this event in my life. We find ourselves in the part of the Gospel account of John where this is the moment Jesus had been preparing for since he first came to this world. This was Jesus’ curtain call. If you have ever spent anytime on the stage you are aware of the feeling of anticipation, nervousness, excitement and sheer fear before the curtain rises (no matter how prepared you are). Once the curtain rises you have two choices… do what you were meant to do or run away. Here in the garden the curtain (if you will) raises and in this passage Jesus sets in motion the departure from this earth that he has been speaking about for some time. Here Jesus is confronted by the band of soldiers who has been brought to the garden by Judas, the captain and officers of the Chief Priests and the Pharisees. This is the moment Jesus has been moving towards in his ministry. What lies before him is the cup which the Father has given to him to drink and we see Jesus takes this cup and endures it because this is the moment he came for.
After Jesus had finished his prayer and concluded his farewell discourse he went to a garden that he went to often with his disciples (as we can see in Luke 22:39). Judas knew Jesus would be there at this time. Judas brought with him Roman soldiers (possibly up to 200 soldiers) and the temple police to the garden to have Jesus arrested. It is probable at this time Judas kisses Jesus but John does not record it. He meets the group and asks who they are seeking? They (we are not sure who) responds, “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus replies, “I am he.” The literal translation is “I am.” (I would encourage you to read or re-read Exodus 3 to get a background on the significance of this statement if you are unfamiliar.) What is more interesting is what happens after he responds. John tells us the soldiers drew back or as the NET Bible says, “they retreated” or moved back and fell to the ground. What actually happened at this moment? Why did the soldiers fall down? More conservative biblical scholars believe that the soldiers in the front may have jumped back when Jesus unexpectedly advanced forward causing those in the front to start a domino effect of soldiers falling to the ground. Others believe the falling was a result of a Theophany (an appearance of God to humans) causing his enemies to fall back and fall prostrate before him. What we do know is Jesus is in control of the situation. “We see they are struck down by a power such as that which smote Saul of Tarsus and his companions to the earth (Ac 26:14). It was the glorious effulgence (radiance) of the majesty of Christ which overpowered them. “This, occurring before His surrender, would show His power over His enemies, and so the freedom with which He gave Himself up” [Meyer]. I think it’s important for us (whether a believer or not) to know and understand as Pastor Tim Keller says in his sermon I AM HE, “Nobody can stand on their feet in the presence of God.” The power of God is awesome in all senses of the word. Not only is it awesome, but awe inspiring. I believe in Jesus we see the power of God manifested His name (I AM, Yahweh). If the mere mention of the name of God can bring a squad of soldiers to their knees then we ought to recognize and respect the power of God altogether.
After this happened Jesus asks them again whom they seek and informs them he is the one they seek. He tells them to let the men with him go unharmed. Then Peter decides he wants to seize the opportunity and attacks the High Priest’s servant cutting off his ear. Peter’s knee jerk reaction spurs Jesus to let everyone know he is not seeking violence but will go peacefully. In fact he rebukes Peter by asking him, “Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” This is his way of saying to Peter, “This all has to happen. This has been set since the beginning of time. I must do as the Father says in order to accomplish the plan from the start.” As we can see Jesus has accepted the mission the Father has given to Him. His death on the cross was not a hiccup in the plan of God. It was THE plan from the beginning.
Jesus was arrested and bound by the soldiers and taken before the Father in law Annas of the High Priest (who was Caiaphas). Annas is also called the High Priest in other passages so there is some debate over why he is also called the High Priest. Some suggest that Caiaphas and Annas shared the position and others suggest that since he was High Priest before Caiaphas that he was probably retired from the position but still held the title.
Peter and another unnamed disciple followed Jesus to Annas’ courtyard. It is suggested that this “other disciple” was John (Just an FYI). Peter stayed outside but the other disciple was known by Annas entered the courtyard. Eventually Peter was allowed to come in but in the meantime he was and a group of people were warming themselves around the fire and the door keeper questions as to whether he was a follower of Jesus. Certainly Peter was fearful for personal safety thus denies that he is. Of course we can only speculate as to his motivation in denial of Jesus but we know for certain he must deny Jesus three times because this is what Jesus prophesy’s.
I love that the Gospels put in the accounts of Peter. I have no reservation that Peter was known as the hot head or the one who just did and didn’t think about consequences. We also know Peter was one of Jesus’ inner circle. He shared intimate moments with the Messiah, he had the faith to go out and walk on the water (even if it was only for a moment), and he was promised by Jesus to be the Rock on which He would build his church. Yet he is portrayed as 100% flawed human in the Gospels and I am thankful for that. He cuts the ear off the guard, he denies Jesus three times to which he assured Jesus he would NEVER do. Peter is a great example of a flawed follower of Jesus; and my friends we are all flawed followers of Jesus. We all do things in our Christian walk we are not proud of. There may be times where you remain silent when you should speak up, or you may not have the “proper” reaction or response to certain things in your life or better yet maybe you, like Peter have denied Jesus in public.
I have heard so many people say, “Christians think they are perfect, always right and judgmental.” Yes, there are Christians who may have that attitude but we all know (which is evident in this passage) since the beginnings of Christianity followers of Jesus were flawed. The same goes for us today. We are not perfect, we should strive to not be “know it alls” and we certainly should not be judgmental. However there are times we are and thankfully we have a Savior who is forgiving, understanding and loving to his followers… warts and all.
In this passage we see the curtain rising to the final “act” if you will in the Gospel account. The irony to the Good news of this story is that tragedy must strike in order for the news to be good. Since the time of creation this has been the plan of God. Jesus must take this cup and he must drink it in order for those who believe to be redeemed. What I find most beautiful is our perfect Savior lovingly, willingly and obediently goes to the cross of Calvary to give life to us the flawed followers of Jesus. Rejoice in this today. Know you have a Savior who has all the power of God available to him (even so much that at the mere mention of the name of God his enemies fall over) and yet he humbles himself to the point of death so that we who believe may have life and have it abundantly.
Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. (1997). A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary. (Jn 18:6). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
I am so glad there are people in the body of Christ who are prayer warriors. As I was preparing this devotion I began thinking about the many individuals who are committed to prayer. I am so thankful there are people who are praying for me and my family (even as I write). I am reminded of an elderly woman at a church I worked at and she was hard of hearing. She was one of those ladies that thought she was whispering during the quiet part of a church service but was actually so loud she could be heard throughout the sanctuary. She was a wonderful woman of God. I remember her continually telling me week after week she was praying for me, my ministry and my family (even before I had a family). It seemed without fail that every time I was having some sort of spiritual or ministerial difficulty in my life she would seek me out and tell me, “God has laid you on my heart today and I want to tell you I have been praying for you.” Most of the time she didn’t go into specifics as to what God revealed to her, she just wanted me to know she was praying for me and I really appreciated her.
Prayer should be a vital part of every Christian’s life. Prayer is powerful and as believer’s we need to pray because it is a gift God has given to us to communicate with him. As we look at the life of Jesus He not only tells his disciples they should but he also modeled prayer in his life here on earth.
Today I am focusing on all of John 17 and I want to look at the prayer of Jesus or as it has become known as the High Priestly prayer. This is one of my favorite chapters in the Gospel of John. Here we get a glimpse into the prayer life of Jesus. This is an intimate moment in which John was witness and he in turn shares with us. It is a beautiful prayer and today it is my goal to look at it in a deeper way and see how we as followers of Jesus are direct beneficiaries of this prayer.
The chapter begins with Jesus looking to the heavens and praying to the Father. This is believed to be the common stance for prayer (not the way we do it today with hands folded, heads bowed and eyes closed).
“The hour has come…” is referring to either his death or the resurrection and ascension (glorification).
The Purposes of Jesus’ Prayer
Isn't it wonderful to know we are prayed for? Whenever I am in a spiritual dry spot in my life I am reminded that I am not alone in a Spiritual desert. Jesus is praying for me. There is cause to rejoice in knowing that our Lord and Savior is continually interceding for us. The accuser, Satan, will try all he can to cause division, to steal our joy, cause us to live in fear and doubt. We have to know and believe that we are victorious. Remember last week we see Jesus is the overcomer of the world and thus we are overcomers as well. It is important for us as believers to live in unity, have a joy that cannot be taken away and have confidence (that if you are TRULY a follower of Jesus) in knowing we are secure because the Savior intercedes for us diligently before the Father.
There is great comfort in knowing we are prayed for thus it is imperative that we continue to be people of prayer as well. Jesus didn’t just tell his disciples to pray and not pray himself. Jesus modeled prayer because He wanted us to know the importance of prayer as well. Let us become passionate pray-ers for perfect unity in the body of Christ. Let us learn today that as with anything we cannot just talk about prayer, we must be people of prayer.
Child birth has to be one of the most painful, grossest and beautiful experiences a husband and wife can share together. I still remember vividly each of my children’s birth. I have a few fun stories about their births but I’ll save those for a later date. I can vividly remember the anticipation we had from the time we found out she was pregnant to each of our children entering this world. I remember the beautiful moment when I held each newborn babe in my arms and overwhelming sense of pride, protection and love I had as their father.
Any woman who has given birth or a man who have been part of the birthing process can relate with the words of Jesus in today’s text. We can understand the joy that comes from patience and pain. Since I am a man I have and never will experience the pain of child birth. I can only imagine (and secretly thank God) I can’t relate to the pain involved in giving birth to a child. In fact I am pretty useless when the actual birth happens. All I during the child birthing process is to be there as a support for my wife through the labor pains through the actual birth. I am proud of my wife for enduring some of the most intense pain she will ever have to face so she she could bring our beautiful children into this world.
In today’s passage (John 16) Jesus speaks of the joy and pains of persecution, suffering and tribulations that we Christians may face in the world today. The theme for today is "overcoming through sorrow and pain." Through pain and suffering Jesus overcame the world. Since Jesus overcame the world we too will experience joy, peace and victory in our times of turmoil and suffering in our lives today."
Jesus tells his disciples that in a little while He will not be seen by anyone but a in a longer little while he will be seen once again. He is referring to His and his post resurrection appearances. In his death he will be seen no more. In his resurrection he will appear once again to the disciples and others. PLUS he will be seen at his second coming.
For the time being the disciples will weep and lament over the loss of their Lord, leader and teacher. His death will bring sadness among the disciples. The world will not be sad, in fact they will rejoice over his death. Their hatred is so strong against Jesus and the Father that when He is finally put to death the world will not be able to contain their enthusiasm and rejoicing.
Yet Jesus says in his departure (death) their sorrow will turn to joy. In his death, resurrection and eventual ascension the plan of redemption will be complete. Through his death sin can be forgiven, eternal life can be given, and true joy, peace and freedom can be found to those who believe in faith and commit their lives to Jesus Christ. The end result will be joy in the midst of mourning, suffering and persecution… just like the joy of childbirth. I am fairly certain that any woman who has gone through the pain of child birth actually enjoyed the pain involved. However the end result of the pain and suffering is a beautiful life that has the potential to bring inexplicable joy to the parent(s). Isn’t it nice to know we are all the end product of someone’s pain?
I don’t believe Jesus is giving a case for all suffering leading to happiness. Some suffering does in fact lead to more pain and suffering. I think Jesus is telling the disciples that joy can be found in the midst of suffering. The same goes for us today we may be miserable, in pain and suffering but we can still have joy in that is given by Jesus. It is when we keep our eyes on the prize (in this case it’s Jesus) we will get through the difficulties in life. What is best about this joy is that it is given by Jesus and he promises that nobody (no human) can take that joy from us.
Jesus then tells the disciples that he has been speaking figuratively up to this point. A time is coming when he will not have to speak figurative but can speak plainly for them to understand. It is suggested that Jesus is talking about the coming of the Holy Spirit and others suggest he is talking about his post resurrection appearance (Acts 1:3) where he speaks to them openly about the Kingdom of God. The time is coming soon when his death will cause the disciples to scatter abroad and go back to their everyday lives. We see this is the case after Jesus is crucified that many of the disciples went back to their old ways of life. He has told the disciples all of the things he has so they may have peace in this time of turmoil. In reality persecution is on the horizon. The trials and tribulations the disciples will face will not come to an end once Jesus is crucified, in fact this is just the beginning. During this time of persecution the disciples may feel alone and abandoned but peace will come because this peace is grounded in the fact that Jesus has overcome the world. The world will cause great persecution and trials but Jesus tells the disciples to have courage and know he has overcome the world. The world has no power over them.
This is a promise for all Christians. The Apostle John writes in his epistle and in Revelation about Christians being overcomers. Four times in his Epistle (I John 2:13, 14, 4:4 & 5:4) he reminds the believer that he/she has also overcome the world because we are born of God and we belong to Jesus.
As believers we need continual reminding about the fact that we are overcomers… We are victorious in this life because of Jesus. The world has no hold on us and we are not slaves to this world. Since we are overcomers we need to live as overcomers. The words Jesus spoke shows that there is nothing the world can do to take away our joy. The world can certainly try it’s hardest to beat us down, cause us to doubt, and take away our joy, but it cannot be taken away so let us start living like we believe this. Let us live as victorious Christians. Let us acknowledge and believe that in turmoil, pain, suffering, and persecution joy can be found. Let this truth be our foundation. We live in a time of uncertainty, violence, godlessness, amoralism and turmoil and this should not affect our lives in the least. We have overcome the world because we belong to Jesus and He is the ultimate victor thus giving us victory as well.
Biblical Studies Press. (2006; 2006). The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible. Biblical Studies Press.
I believe there are three words every person longs to hear... “I love you”. Everyone wants to be loved by someone at some point in their lives. Wouldn’t you agree? Jesus spoke often about love. In fact he has spent a good deal of time on the subject of love. In the English Standard Version Bible Jesus uses the word “love” in one form or another at least 23 times in John chapters 13, 14 and 15. Every time he uses this word he speaks it in terms of loving one another, loving Him, loving his Word, loving the Father, or being loved by both the Father and Son. Love is an important part of the message of Jesus throughout his ministry here on earth and the message continues through today. Love is an integral part of the Christian life. Because of love we know we belong to the Father. Since love is an important aspect of being a disciple of Jesus it is imperative that we not only show love to one another and to God, but also that we receive it.
On the flip side the three words nobody wants to hear is, “I hate you!” These words when spoken in a scathing and spiteful manner can cause one to experience immense emotional and spiritual damage that could potentially negatively impact a person for life. “I hate you” are three words that cut to and destroy the heart of any person. Has anyone ever said to you with fury and angst, “I hate you!”? How did/does that make you feel? I can guess with much confidence that it makes you feel horrible, low, and worthless. Isn’t it amazing the power and pain these three words have to them?
Not surprisingly since Jesus spoke so much about love he did not speak much about hate. Not surprising also is Jesus never spoke of hatred in a positive way. In fact he taught just the opposite, we are told not to hate our enemies but to love them. We are told to hate evil and love righteousness. However in today’s passage we are given some insight to hatred in the believer’s life. Unfortunately as followers of Jesus we will experience hatred, detesting, loathing and abhorring personally in our own lives and usually without a good reason (if there even was a good reason to hate).
Read John 15:18 – 16:4
As a follower of Jesus do you ever wonder why people are so hostile towards Christians? It doesn’t take much convincing that Christianity is rarely put in a positive light in both the media and social circles. You may have heard Christians referred to as narrow-minded, bigots, hate mongers, hypocrites, extremists, the moral police, judgmental, and a whole slew of other negative names. Why is this so? Well, unfortunately because there are so many professing Christians that actually are one or many of the above, but not all are.
Verse 18: “If the world hates you…” Jesus speaks to his disciples to forewarn them or “cushion the blow” when they go out into the world (after his death and crucifixion) that they and the message they proclaim will be met with hostility. I think the statement could be implied that Jesus is telling them to expect to be hated in this world and he gives us the reason why.
First we need to define the world that is spoken of that will be hostile towards them… There are three possible meanings.
Jesus refers to the third meaning. He informs his disciples (and us today) that the world or the mass public who is essentially ungodly will in fact hate you. Why? Because it has hated Christ first and foremost. Jesus came to the world (planet) to bring salvation, joy, peace and forgiveness. The world who is against God will not tolerate one who is filled with joy, peace, love and forgiveness because they cannot truly experience these things aside from Christ. As Christians we represent Jesus and his teaching. I find it a little confusing how the world can be so antagonistic to a man who came to bring redemption, peace, joy and forgiveness and to those who follow him.
Verse 19: If we belonged to this world then we would be accepted by the world. We would be loved and welcomed by the world and we would in turn desire the world back. The truth is as believers we do not belong to this world, simply because we have been chosen or called out by Jesus and thus we will be hated. Now we must resist the temptation to believe that since we are called out of the world we are...
Verse 20: I think this verse directly relates to the third temptation. We must be reminded that our master, savior, and Lord was hated, persecuted, scoffed at, humiliated, and forsaken by the masses so we should not expect to be treated any better. We are, in effect, guilty by association. I get so tired of meeting people that think they need to water down the Gospel or try to defend God so that he doesn’t look so bad. Some actually think they can make the Gospel and the teachings of Jesus so attractive and less offensive so it will be more appealing to the world. I agree with Matt Chandler, Pastor of the Village Church when he said, “The Gospel will never be considered cool by the world.” The world didn’t accept Jesus and the world will not accept us.
The second part of this verse scares a lot of people but we must know and accept this, “If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” We should not marvel or get all in a bunch when we are met with hatred and resistance because of our belief. We should expect to be made fun of for our faith, cursed at for our devotion to Jesus and scoffed at for the Savior we love and obey. I also don’t believe that we should go out in the world and look to be persecuted so we can validate our faith. We should live as Christ commands and expect to be treated the way He warns.
Verse 21 - 23: Plain and simple if one hates the Son then he hates the Father as well.
Verse 25: “They hated me without a cause”… (Psalm 35:19). The hatred of Jesus by the world is unjustified. There is no reason other than hatred of all that is right. All Jesus represents is good.
Verse 26, 27: However when the Helper (as we know as the Holy Spirit) comes he will bear witness of who Jesus is and the disciples will bear witness of Jesus because they have been with him since the beginning of his ministry.
Chapter 16:1: Jesus gives his reason for this discourse. He is warning and encouraging his disciples so that WHEN they experience hatred by the world they will not allow this to cause them fall away. He warns about the persecution and hatred that is to come and when they face them they must remember His words of encouragement.
It is hard for me to come to terms with this as I am a person who likes to be liked. When I experience animosity from those who are of the world I take it personal and I need to be reminded often, it is not me they hate it’s the Jesus I serve and my hope and security must be rooted in that.
Verse 2: The disciples will experience intense persecution by those opposed to Jesus. They will face individuals who will actually call for their death because of the Jesus they follow and in terminating someone for their belief think they are doing God’s will. Recall the Apostle Paul (who was called Saul) when he looked on the persecution of Christians with approval. He thought he was doing God a favor by persecuting Christians.
Verse 3: However Jesus informs them that they are doing this because they do not know the Father and His love in not in them. They completely miss the point of purpose of Jesus’ act of redemption.
Verse 4: These things are told to believers so when the time does come we will remember it is not us they hate, it’s the Jesus we serve they hate.
How many of you would sign up for something that guarantees you will become scoffed at by the masses, put you at risk of being physically or verbally abused, and could potentially land you in the morgue? This is why Christianity is so unique to other faiths. There is absolutely nothing logical about it. As followers of Christ we are commanded to love (God, each other and our enemies), obey the Words of Jesus, seek forgiveness of sins through Jesus, be shown compassion that is undeserved, and have abundant joy both here on earth and in the afterlife. One would think the logical conclusion for a believer is nothing but complete euphoria. Yet we are told specifically by Jesus that as a result of who we follow and represent we will be hated, scoffed at and potentially killed. This is why the believer must take heart the words of Jesus spoken of in this passage. The world may hate and despise us but the love of the Father will never leave us.
Gardening has never been my forte. Don’t get me wrong I love the concept of gardening. Growing fresh fruits and vegetables from trees and from the ground is simply a wonderful thing… The problem is I am really bad at it.
I remember my first attempt at gardening back in the early 2000’s in Erie, PA. We had just moved into our new house and we finally had a home with a yard that had beautiful flowers (the person before us was truly a gifted gardener), a peach tree and a nice fenced in yard. One day I had the idea to put in a garden in the back corner of our lot. I borrowed a rototiller from a friend a tilled up a nice area of land. I planted carrots, beans, cucumbers, pumpkins, cantaloupe and others. I put a little fence around it to keep the critters (and child) out. I diligently watered the garden everyday and pulled weeds. Over the course of time I neglected watering and unfortunately it became a very hot and dry summer. Eventually I had this pathetic barren dry patch of dirt in the corner lot of our house with one very small cantaloupe in it. We also had a peach tree but I won't get into that story. What started as pruning ended up being completely cut down with a broken hand held miter box saw.
After this failed attempt at gardening I vowed to never plant a garden again until… last year and this year. I really don’t want to go into my reasons… let’s just say the results were pretty much the same. As you can see I don’t have a green thumb, it's more of a black thumb (this is the thumb that kills every plant it touches). Needless to say I am very thankful and envious of all who bring veggies and fruit who have this magical touch and share aplenty.
(Read John 15:1 - 11)
This is the last of Jesus’ seven “I am” statements in the Gospel of John (The bread of life, light of the world, the door, the Good Shepherd, the resurrection and life, the way, the truth and the life). The key themes of this passage are abiding, staying connected, being healthy, obedience to Christ and being full joy.
Verse 1: The “true vine”. When I first read this I noted Jesus calls himself the true vine. This tells me if he is the true vine then something or someone else must have been or made the claim of being the vine sometime. In Jewish tradition (and in OT passages) the vine represents Israel. The nation was meant to be the vine that bore much fruit for God and his Kingdom but instead we see it bore idolatry and disobedience (i.e. Isaiah 5:5 – 7, Jeremiah 2:21, Hosea 10:1). In verse one Jesus says he is the true vine, He is the true Israel. Through him God will establish his Kingdom and through Jesus humanity (those who believe and obey) will be saved.
God is the vinedresser or the gardener. He is the one who cultivates and He is the one who prunes.
Verse 2: As we see in verse 5 the disciples (those who follow Christ) are the branches. The Father cuts off or takes away every branch that does not bear fruit. A branch that is not connected to a tree or a vine is dead and useless. If followers of Jesus are the branches then who are the branches that bear no fruit and are cut off? There are some plausible suggestions for who these fruitless branches are.
Jesus says if one is not bearing fruit in his life then there are serious consequences (cut and thrown into the fire- Verse 6). The implication is if you are in Christ then you must bear fruit that Jesus is in your life. The fruit he speaks of is faith, remaining in him and obedience to his commands.
“Prunes” – We see those who are bearing fruit the Father will also prune. Pruning as most of you know is important in order for a tree or plant to remain healthy and produce more and healthy fruit. The word prune can be defined as “cleanses or expiate”. The greatest judgment God could bring to a believer would be to let him alone, let him have his own way. Because God loves us, He “prunes” us and encourages us to bear more fruit for His glory. If the branches could speak, they would confess that the pruning process hurts; but they would also rejoice that they will be able to produce more and better fruit. 
Fruitfulness is the mark of a true believer.
Verse 3: The words Jesus spoke has already cleansed the disciples. His Word cleanses it is the life in the vine. Recall Jesus spoke about the disciples already being clean at the time of the foot washing… Judas was not.
Verse 4 - 5: Abide = To remain as one. Jesus has been speaking of being one with the Father and with the believer. Jesus tells the disciples that they are to remain or abide in him and in so doing he will abide in them (the believer). One who disconnects from the vine (Jesus) is a dead fruitless branch. A branch that is disconnected cannot bear fruit because there is no life source flowing through or to it. A person that is disconnected from Jesus is not a Christian. One cannot be apart from Jesus and still be considered one of his.
The only way to produce a healthy and fruitful Christian life is to remain and abide in Jesus. As we see in verse 5 that a disconnected dead branch can do nothing apart from the source of life (the vine).
Verse 6: A person who is a disconnected dead branch dries up and withers and is thrown into the fire.
Verse 7: If one remains and abides in Jesus and his word the logical conclusion is his prayer life will become more in tune with Jesus and his desires. A person who abides in Jesus will have a powerful prayer life because he/she is seeking the Lord’s will in prayer time and does not seek to receive only that which benefits the person praying. When we abide in Christ, he abides in us and ultimately his desires become our desires and we will ask in accordance to his will and purpose.
Verse 8: When we pray according to God’s will the answers will come for his glory. Also when we live lives that are fruitful for God we in turn bring glory to his name as well. A life of faith and obedience to Jesus’ commands brings glory to the Father. When we honor Jesus in our lives we also honor the Father. We are also reminded that abiding in Jesus and bearing fruit is a sign to others that you belong to God the Father. It is yet another mark that distinguishes one as a disciple of Christ.
Verse 9, 10: How much does Jesus love you? As much as the Father loves the Son. Since this is true then we must continue in Jesus (abide in my love). As Christians we are to remain in his love (through obedience to his commands and faith [believe in me]). This should be encouragement galore. As we abide we should be reminded daily and often of the great love Jesus has for his people. As one who is connected to the vine our life source flows from him to us.
How do you abide in him? By keeping his commandments. I have said this numerous times and I will say it again… This is not works based salvation. This is a results based salvation. As believers we should know that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. The Epistles are crystal clear on this. However, often people misinterpret Jesus’ commands to obedience as meaning obedience is the key to salvation. There are many who claim Christ yet are not fruit bearing Christians. They think they belong to Jesus because they follow his commandments of loving one another, proclaiming their love for God and yet they have not put complete faith and trust in Jesus Christ. The true disciple will be one whose outward obedience is a result of his faith and not the reason for his so called faith. Jesus speaks often about faith (in Him), obedience (to his command) and abiding (remaining in him). These three are interconnected and must be part of the believer’s life. Thus Christianity is not a good works based religion it is a good works result relationship with a Savior who loves his people more than we can comprehend.
Verse 11: How I wish more and more Christians would read and believe these words of verse 11. Jesus DOES want his followers to be joyful. Jesus does want us to be satisfied, happy and content IN HIM. Jesus spoke these words so the disciples would recognize their source of joy does not come from circumstances, they come from Christ. I love that Jesus not only tells us we will be filled with joy… He tells us our joy will be full, complete or overflowing. To this day I love the saying, “If the joy of the Lord is in you please tell your face.” This abundance of joy should be evident to others. People should see the joy of the Lord in your face, your deeds, and your life. This does not mean you are constantly happy and life is a bed of roses. Our joy can be full in times of triumph, in our everyday life, and in the deepest darkest times of our lives. When Jesus is the source of our joy then circumstances will never be able to steal your joy.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1996, c1989). The Bible exposition commentary. "An exposition of the New Testament comprising the entire 'BE' series"--Jkt. (Jn 15:1). Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books.
The first time my wife and I left our children with a baby sitter was a very stressful time for us. You may or may not know that our family is very close knit and we do pretty much everything together. We are used to taking our children with us everywhere and we rarely call upon other people to care for them. It’s not that we don’t trust people, we just like being with our kids. On the rare occasion we do ask someone to care for our children, like any other parent, we will leave a list of contact information in case of emergency. We leave our cell phone numbers, sometimes numbers of close friends or relatives. We try to cover our bases so if, Lord forbid, something tragic were to happen to us when we were out they would not be abandoned or left alone. I know it sounds sort of morbid but we want to make sure our children are cared for in the case of a tragedy.
In the passage today Jesus is being very much like a parent making preparations for leaving his children “home alone” as he departs from this earth. His is crucifixion is looming on the horizon and he has been giving his disciples instructions on how they should continue in him after his departure. Jesus is not going to leave them abandoned or orphaned when he goes. He ensures his followers that he will leave them fully equipped, well cared for and although he may not be present with them physically, he will remain with them spiritually.
This is the first of many times Jesus specifically mentions the Holy Spirit. Up to this point he has referenced the Spirit very little and in this “The Upper Room Discourse” Jesus introduces his disciples to the promise of another Helper. He introduces them to the Holy Spirit (paraclete) and the role He will play in the lives of believers.
Read John 14:15 - 21
Verse 15: In the previous verse Jesus has given the disciples the charge to love one another, believe, obey and pray in his name. He informs them that after his departure from this world the disciples will do even greater things than they have witnessed. First Jesus reminds his followers that if they truly love Jesus then they must obey his commands. In chapter 13:34 Jesus gave a new command and it was the command to love one another as he has loved them (by giving his life for them). Words are empty if love is not practiced. Obedience to Jesus is the sure sign of love. This is not a works based “if” and “then”. It may be better translated “since you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Verse 16, 17: Since the commandments are kept by his followers THEN Jesus will ask the Father to send another Helper (or advocate) to be with them forever. This wasn’t a carrot he was dangling before them, this was a promise. The word translated “Advocate”, “Helper” or “Counselor” is the word parakaleo which we translate as paraclete and is defined as “to call alongside” to encourage or exhort or as the ESV translates as Helper. This is the “role” if you will of the Holy Spirit.
I find it interesting to note that Jesus is actually the original Paraclete’. If you notice Jesus says that the Father will send another Helper (which is an apparent and obvious reference to the Holy Spirit according to verse 17). The Helper or as Jesus calls him the Spirit of truth will be given by the Father and remain with the disciples forever. Obviously Jesus will not be with the disciples physically for much longer (this is the reason why he is giving this discourse) and even after his resurrection he is only going to be with them for a short time before he ascends back to the Father. Through this promise of the Holy Spirit (or Spirit of Truth) we come to understand that through the Spirit Jesus will dwell or be in all who believe in him. We will look at the Holy Spirit a little closer in chapter 16.
The world cannot know the Spirit of truth because the world system is against God, it has no care for the works of the Spirit. I Cor. 2:14 tells us that a person who is godless (an unbeliever) cannot understand nor comprehend spiritual things. To an unbeliever they are folly or foolishness. Those of us who do abide and obey Jesus can and do have the Spirit in us and we are able to understand and comprehend because we have the mind of Christ in us.
This does not mean the Spirit has no role in the unbeliever’s life. We know this to be true because none of us can be called Christians if it weren’t so. The scripture tells us that the Spirit is the one who calls or awakens the dead in Christ and draws himself to the sinner. Chapter 16 shows us that the Spirit is the one who actually draws us to Jesus. Here Jesus speaks of the one who remains in the world and cannot see the Spirit at work because he cannot humanly comprehend the Spirit and the Spirit has not enlightened him.
Verse 18: Here Jesus assures the disciples that he will not be left alone after he is crucified. He will not leave the believers ill equipped. Through his death and resurrection the Spirit will be given to them (which we see happen at Pentecost). Jesus gives his disciples comfort in knowing that when he goes they will not be left to fend for themselves. He speaks of coming back to them and there are three ways this has/could be interpreted.
Verse 19: “In a little while…” Jesus speaks of his death. In a short period of time he will be handed over to the authorities and he will be crucified on the cross. As I have stated numerous times throughout this study that this absolutely had to happen; Jesus must give up his life in order for God’s plan of redemption to come to fruition. When he departs from this world he will no longer be visible to the outside world. However as people who obey his commands and believe in Him they we will see him again. He not only physically appears to the disciples post resurrection a number of times but he also makes a promise that since he will rise again we also receive the resurrection life. Since Jesus is alive we now have life as well. His death and resurrection is for God’s glory and our benefit. In his departure we not only receive the Spirit; we also receive life eternal.
Verse 20: At the time when he reveals himself (both physically and through the coming of the Spirit) they will then know that Jesus and the Father are one. They will have an “aha” moment where all becomes crystal clear in regards to his teachings of the unity of Father and Son. Not only will they know the Father and Son are one but will also know that those who are in Christ are also unified in Him.
Verse 21: The promise Jesus makes… The ones who keep and obey Jesus’ commandments will show their love for him AND the one who loves Jesus will also be loved by the Father.
Seeing the promise Jesus makes to the disciples about not abandoning them and giving the Spirit was not a one time offer for the disciples only. This promise is still available today. As followers of Jesus we, unfortunately, do not have the privilege of walking with a physical Jesus at our side. However we have the Holy Spirit in us which is even more beneficial than having a physical Jesus on earth in many ways. Through the Holy Spirit Jesus can reside in all who have placed their faith in him and obey his commands. We know from the apostle Paul that we are now the new Temple in which the Holy Spirit lives. It is our bodies which serve as the Temple of the Spirit. Since the Spirit lives in us we need to remember the words of Jesus in 14:12 where Jesus promises we will indeed perform miraculous deeds, in fact we will perform even greater miracles. We are blessed individuals. We not only have the promise of life both here and for all eternity but we also have the Spirit of truth or the Holy Spirit in us. Jesus is in us, he is here today and through his Spirit we can and will do great things in his name and for his glory.
Jeff has been in full-time ministry for thirty years. He currently serves as Executive Director at Anchor House Ministry at SeaPort Manatee in Palmetto, FL and he is a part-time Campus Pastor at West Bradenton Southside in Bradenton, Florida.
Jeff Has authored A Lent Devotional (A Spiritual Journey to Lent) an Advent Devotional (The Advent of Jesus) and a devotional on the book of James (James: Where Faith and Life Meet). All three are available on Amazon.
He is married to Carrie and they have four children, Micaiah, Gabe, Simon, and Berea.
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