Five Minute Devotions: John 15
John 15 records the final I AM statement of Jesus, the seventh such statement that John has focused on throughout the Gospel. Jesus has used the same words used to describe Yahweh in the Old Testament to describe who he is and why he should be followed. This seventh statement is meant to tell the disciples how they are to live in his physical absence.
He portrays God as a gardener and himself as a vine. (Bad Church Joke: See? Jesus clearly says he is de vine.) And if he is the vine, we are the branches. We receive our life from the Father through him. We must be connected to him in order to have life. If we have life, then that will be shown through our fruitfulness.
The Need for a Vine
In the Old Testament, Moses served as the mediator between God and man. He was more of a messenger than a mediator, being able to only identify with one side. He was put in this role by the Israelites, who specifically asked Moses to the be the mediator.
“You speak to us, and we will listen,” they said to Moses, “but don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.”- Exodus 20:19
I had always thought that this was the point the Israelites went wrong. They put someone in between them and God. They didn’t want to deal with God—just let Moses do it. But in Deuteronomy 5, which recounts the same event:
“The Lord heard your words when you spoke to me. He said to me, ‘I have heard the words that these people have spoken to you. Everything they have said is right. – Deuteronomy 5:28
What I realized was that I had a New Testament perspective on their Old Testament situation. I have Jesus—who is God—as my mediator. So I can “approach the throne of grace with confidence” (Hebrews 4:16). I do so through the Holy Spirit in my life with Christ as my mediator.
There must be some separation—some mediator—between God and man. Moses and the prophets did that imperfectly and incompletely in their lifetimes. Jesus now does so perfectly and in perpetuity.
Remain in me, and I in you. Just as a branch is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you remain in me. – John 15:4
Dead branches planted in the ground are still dead branches. Life requires the vine. So too, we cannot get to God on our own, but only through the vine called Christ.
The Need for Fruit
Over and over again in this passage, the result of the Christian life is portrayed as fruit. Dead branches don’t bring forth fruit, so they are cut off and burned. The pruning process—though we may see it as painful—occurs so that we might be more abundant.
Fruitfulness is the goal of the Christian life.
My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and prove to be my disciples. – John 15:8
Here in his final hours before his death, Jesus outlines the type of life he wants his disciples to lead. It’s one that bears fruit. And their fruit-bearing will lead to more disciples and more fruit-bearing. Fruit bears seeds, which leads to new plants. The vine grows and grows and grows when the branches are fruitful.
Here in this last conversation before his death, Jesus exhorts us to remain rooted, to stay connected to him, and by extension to stay connected to the Father. To remain in him as he is in the father. And that’s the end goal of the Christian life. That’s the result of our journey through learning about Jesus in his own words. We come to the end of the journey and it is simply this: reflecting and abiding in Christ.
Father, draw us close to you through your Son. Let your glory dwell within us through the Spirit so that we might be your temple, your ark of the covenant. May we radiate and reflect your glory. Make us strong and fruitful. We submit to your pruning knife, knowing that it is for our favor.
This passage is the final I AM statement made by Jesus throughout the gospel of John. Go back and find the others (many of which we discussed in their respective chapters). Can you see John’s progression through the Christian journey?
Had you ever caught those words in Exodus or Deuteronomy before? How does it change our perception of God?
Today’s header image is a 17th century icon of Christ and the disciples.
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