Berean Bible Study Notes

John 15:9-17



W3Schools.com



 

Last time, we went through this section:

John 15:1-8 The True Vine

John 15:1"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 bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.

5 "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

We talked about the vine and the branches. Jesus is the true vine, and believers are the branches. This whole section is on fruit-bearing. We need to remember that the branches don't strain to produce fruit. If they remain connected to the vine, lifted up in the sun (or Son!), they WILL produce fruit. The fruit is the result of work of the Spirit, not of us. All the branches need to do is remain connected.

When Jesus spoke of Himself as the true vine, it was in contrast to the vine that symbolized Israel in the Bible (we went through some of those verses), which gave wild fruit in stead of good fruit. There is another national symbol of Israel, or of Jews in general, (besides the star of David, which is a whole other story) and that is the Menorah. The same symbolism that Jesus used of the vine is also appropriate when you look at the Menorah: 

W3Schools.com



This is a picture of the Menorah that the Temple Institute in Israel has reconstructed from the instructions in the Bible, and from a picture on the Arch of Titus. When Titus destroyed the Temple in 70 AD, he carried off the Temple Menorah as a trophy, as you can see in the next picture.

W3Schools.com



You'll notice that on the original Menorah, there was one central stem and branches going out from each side. Here is what the Bible has to say about that:

Exodus 25:31 (New Living Translation) "Make a lampstand of pure, hammered gold. The entire lampstand and its decorations will be one piece - the base, center stem, lamp cups, buds, and blossoms. 32 It will have six branches, three branches going out from each side of the center stem. 33 Each of the six branches will hold a cup shaped like an almond blossom, complete with buds and petals. 34 The center stem of the lampstand will be decorated with four almond blossoms, complete with buds and petals. 35 One blossom will be set beneath each pair of branches where they extend from the center stem. 36 The decorations and branches must all be one piece with the stem, and they must be hammered from pure gold. 37 Then make the seven lamps for the lampstand, and set them so they reflect their light forward. 38 The lamp snuffers and trays must also be made of pure gold. 39 You will need seventy-five pounds of pure gold for the lampstand and its accessories. 40 "Be sure that you make everything according to the pattern I have shown you here on the mountain.

The New Living Translation is quite accurate in the translation, and it's a bit easier to follow. Notice how the center is not called a branch. It is the center stem that supports the rest of the branches. Notice how God instructs that it must be made all of one piece (which reminds me of the "one loaf" of 1 Corinthians) - and that it must be solid gold throughout.

Are you catching the picture here? The Menorah is a picture of Jesus, united with His people, just as in the picture of the vine. There are six branches - the number of man, but all together, there are seven lights, the number of completeness. We are only complete when Jesus is at our center. That is true individually, and it is true of our churches. Look at this passage from Revelation:

Rev 1:10 (NIV) On the Lord's Day I was in the Spirit, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 which said: "Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea."

12 I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and among the lampstands was someone "like a son of man," dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest. 14 His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire. 15 His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing waters. 16 In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.

17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: "Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. 18 I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.

19 "Write, therefore, what you have seen, what is now and what will take place later. 20 The mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

Jesus is there in the midst of the churches, just as the center shaft was in the midst of the Menorah branches. This symbolism continues to hold true even when you stretch it a bit further. There are seven feasts of the Lord. If you assign one feast to each of the lights of the Menorah, the center one is the Feast of Weeks, which we also know as Pentecost. What happened at Pentecost? The Holy Spirit came down upon the believers, in their midst, so to speak, "and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age."

There is a huge amount to be learned from the picture of the vine and the branches. This is the barest taste.

The Menorah of the Tabernacle

For more information, try searching on “Jesus in the Menorah.”

Now, this statement of Jesus,

John 15:1 "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.

is the seventh of the seven "I AM" comparisons in the Gospel of John. Somehow, the picture that Jesus is painting of Himself is complete with that statement:

John 6:35 And Jesus said to them, "I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.

John 8:12 Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, "I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life."

John 10:9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

John 11:25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. 26 And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?"

John 14:6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.

John 15:1 "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 bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.

Now, every one of these ties back to the burning bush, and the great "I AM":

Exodus 3:13 Then Moses said to God, "Indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them, 'The God of your fathers has sent me to you,' and they say to me, 'What is His name?' what shall I say to them?"

14 And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel,'I AM has sent me to you.'" 15 Moreover God said to Moses, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel: 'The LORD God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever, and this is My memorial to all generations.'

 

Taken together, the seven statements are somehow a complete picture of who Jesus is. I believe it will take all eternity to fully understand all that is being said in those verses. It would be a very valuable study to take each metaphor and trace it through the Bible. I think even the order the statements were given is probably important.

Now, another thing that is very clear, here and throughout John, is that Jesus is not being ambiguous about being God. No truthful man, who was in his right mind, would say all those things, unless he really was God. It was that that caused C.S. Lewis to write:

So, who is Jesus? He is the Bread that we need to feast on, the Light for our path, the only Door to enter, the Shepherd who leads, seeks and comforts, the Resurrection which awaits us, the Way, the Truth, and the Life to trust in, and the Vine who nourishes us and in whom we need to abide.

The I AM statements of Jesus

 

OK, let's forge ahead -

John 15:9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have 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 remain in you, and that your joy may be full. 12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

 John 15:9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.

That "loved" is the verb agapao (ag-ap-ah'-o). It's the love that is totally given over to something - the total concentration of your being. That's the way the Father loved Jesus, and that's the way Jesus loved us. We need to abide or remain (NIV) in that love. In this verse, Jesus is not calling us to love that way (He does other places), but is calling us to abide or remain in HIS love. We went through that word last time. It is meno (men'-o). It means to remain constant, to remain faithful to. There is even an element of waiting patiently in the word. The word, as it's used here, is in the active, aorist, imperative tense. Active, so it's something that we are doing and called to do. It's a conscious thing, something to work at. But, it's the aorist, so there's an element of it that's outside of time altogether. And, it's imperative, so this is a command.

So, how do you "abide?" As we went through last time, it means that make a concerted effort to keep the connection. You hang on with everything in you. So, what does He mean to abide in My love? In just a couple more verses, Jesus explains a bit more:

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends.

How did Jesus love us? He gave up His life for us. Even more than that, He suffered eternal punishment for us. If the punishment for sin is eternal separation from God, then somehow, in a way we cannot understand, that is what Jesus suffered. We just can't get it, because we live inside of time, but somehow, Jesus suffered eternal - as in forever and ever - punishment for us. If that's the punishment for sin, than that is what Jesus did.

I am absolutely convinced that if you were the only person in all of history to believe that - the only one who would be saved by His sacrifice - He would have done it anyway, just for you. You need to hold onto that truth and live that truth. That's how you abide in HIS love. To believe that Jesus loves you that much will change you forever.

John 15:9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have 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.

Our English can be so confusing. This really sounds as though doing what Jesus calls you to will cause you to cling to His love. The "keep" is tereo {tay-reh'-o}, and it is in the aorist tense. So, don't put the emphasis on the "if," put the emphasis on the "keep." If you do keep Jesus' commandments, you WILL abide in His love - because only by abiding in His love will you be able to keep His commandments. Do you follow? It's like back in chapter 14, when Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word." That "love" is the agapao love. If you love Jesus like that, you WILL keep His word.

Now, Jesus has brought up keeping His commandments several times. How many times will He do it all together before He's done? Now, this plural "commandments" is different from the "new commandment" that He gave and will again. Did you guess seven? That would be a great guess - and if we were talking about Jesus keeping the commandments, it would certainly be true. He does everything completely. However, we don't. Yet, we under God's grace. If you remember, grace is getting things we don't deserve. It's contrasted with mercy, which is NOT getting what we do deserve. One way to remember it is God's Riches At Christ's Expense (coined by Hal Lindsey).

Jesus brings up keeping His commandments in the Upper Room Discourse five different times. There are some Bible numbers that seem quite clear - three for the Trinity, six for man, seven for completeness. Others are not quite as clear, but the five seems to be the number for grace.

If you remember back to Genesis, Joseph gave Benjamin five times as much food as the rest of the brothers. Just for fun, here are a few "five" things.

The fifth time that the name "Noah" appears in the Bible is this time:

Genesis 6:8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (Note - NIV leaves out one, even though it is there in the Hebrew)

The fifth time that the name "Ruth" appears in the Bible is this time:

Ruth 2:2 So Ruth the Moabitess said to Naomi, "Please let me go to the field, and glean heads of grain after him in whose sight I may find favor (grace - same word)."

The fifth time that the name "Boaz" appears in the Bible is this time:

Ruth 2:8 Then Boaz said to Ruth, "You will listen, my daughter, will you not? Do not go to glean in another field, nor go from here, but stay close by my young women. 9 Let your eyes be on the field which they reap, and go after them. Have I not commanded the young men not to touch you? And when you are thirsty, go to the vessels and drink from what the young men have drawn." 10 So she fell on her face, bowed down to the ground, and said to him, "Why have I found favor (Grace - same word) in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner?"

When Jacob hopes to find grace in the sight of Esau, he sends five groups of gifts:

Genesis 32:4 And he commanded them, saying,"Speak thus to my lord Esau, 'Thus your servant Jacob says: "I have dwelt with Laban and stayed there until now. 5 I have oxen, donkeys, flocks, and male and female servants; and I have sent to tell my lord, that I may find favor (Grace - again, same word) in your sight."'"

OK, that was just for fun. The point is, Jesus tells us to keep His commandments, but we will fail at that. Yet, we are under God's grace (and mercy) even so.

John 15:9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have 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 remain in you, and that your joy may be full."

Jesus speaks of His joy. Later, He'll mention that again:

John 17:12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 "I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.

Two other times, the Bible mentions Jesus' joy:

Luke 10:21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.

Hebrews 12:2 looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

What was Jesus' joy? His joy seemed to be in His Father, and in being obedient to Him. In the Psalms, David says,

Psalm 43:4 Then I will go to the altar of God, To God my exceeding joy; And on the harp I will praise You, O God, my God.

If this was true for David, how much more so for Jesus of His Father? His joy was in His Father.

Jesus connected obedience to joy in our verse:

John 15:9 "As the Father loved Me, I also have 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 remain in you, and that your joy may be full."

What things had He spoken of? Abiding in Jesus' love and in that love, keeping His commandments. Jesus also connects His joy with our own when He says, "that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full."

What is this joy, anyway? You know what you do when you don't understand a biblical concept; you go look up where it appears.

Job: 1:20 (After hearing of the death of all his children) Then Job arose, tore his robe, and shaved his head; and he fell to the ground and worshipped. 21 And he said: "Naked I came from my mother's womb, And naked shall I return there. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; Blessed be the name of the LORD."

Nehemiah 8:10 Then he said to them, "Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the LORD is your strength."

Psalm 5:11 But let all those rejoice who put their trust in You; Let them ever shout for joy , because You defend them; Let those also who love Your name be joyful in You. 12 For You, O LORD, will bless the righteous; With favor You will surround him as with a shield.

Psalm 16:11 You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

Psalm 21:1 The king shall have joy in Your strength, O LORD; And in Your salvation how greatly shall he rejoice!

Psalm 32:11 Be glad in the LORD and rejoice, you righteous; And shout for joy , all you upright in heart!

Psalm 51:12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation, And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.

 

1 Peter 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, 9 receiving the end of your faith - the salvation of your souls.

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, 3 knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. 4 But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Romans 14:17 for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.

Romans 15:13 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Philippians 4:4 Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

So, what is biblical joy? It doesn't seem to necessarily be a feeling. Job must have been crushed, but he still worshipped. It seems to flow from the Holy Spirit. In fact, it's listed as one of the fruits of the Spirit:

Galatians 5:23 The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Biblical joy seems to be more about God's promises of our future than our present circumstances -- more about who He is than who we are, and what we're feeling. It seems to rely on God's strength and in our confidence in Him. Here are a couple of articles on biblical joy:

Joy

What is Biblical Joy?

 

John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

Jesus had given this new commandment in chapter 13, right after Judas leaves. These two mentions here in these verses make three times all together that He will specifically give this new command. Why three? Perhaps because each of the three members of the Trinity love us with that full, overwhelming agapao love. Jesus is commanding us to love the same way. Peter knows how hard it is, if you recall the "feed my sheep" conversation that Jesus had with him (John 21:15). That may very well be why he lists it last in these verses:

2 Peter 1:5 But also for this very reason, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, 6 to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, 7 to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness love. 8 For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

John 15:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. 14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

In just a few hours, Jesus will lay down His life for His friends. Those friends are not only the disciples, but us, too. He goes on to say, You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. This is another one of those statements that are easily misunderstood. Again, you don't earn the friendship. It all starts with abiding in Jesus' love. From that, all the rest flows. This whole conversation is hooked together. It's interesting that He says, No longer do I call you servants, because several of them will refer to himself as a servant, or doulos (doo'-los) of Christ. A doulos was one of those special bond servants that were bonded to a house for life. A Jew could only be a slave of another Jew for a limited amount of time, and then he was supposed to be set free. However, if he loved his master, he could ask to become a bond servant. There was a special ceremony, and his ear was pierced with an awl at the door post. Then, he wore a special earring to show that he was no ordinary slave, but a doulos.

Jesus says, a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you. He is saying this specifically to the disciples, but through the Holy Spirit, it is true for us, too, as He helps us understand the Scriptures.

John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

Some people have a hard time with this concept. They FEEL like they chose Christ and have a difficult time accepting that He did all the work. Romans talks about this, too:

Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

You'll find that same idea in Ephesians:

Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

And you'll find that in 1 Corinthians:

1 Cor 3:12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Your work will endure if it was work done through the Holy Spirit. If it was Spirit-directed, it will be pleasing to God. It's possible to do things that appear to be good works, but not if they were contrary to what the Spirit wanted you to do. Paul was prevented by the Spirit from preaching the Gospel in certain places at certain times. Now, preaching the Gospel would certainly appear to be a God-pleasing work, but if he had disobeyed the Spirit, his work would not have endured.

John 15:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you. 17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

This is another thing that Jesus has brought up again and again. How many all together will there be? Five again. Interesting. It would appear that asking for things in Jesus' name also needs to be covered by grace. Just goes to show that we will not always get it right.

 

This is as far as we got. We'll take up the world's hatred of believers next time. See you then!!