“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 does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I 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 be 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, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have 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 abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
Capture the big idea. God’s Word communicates big ideas. Periodically ask: What’s the big idea in this sentence, paragraph, or chapter?
The metaphor of vine and branches underscores how our salvation, from beginning to end, is all of grace. Jesus is the faithful remnant of Israel—the true Vine and fruitful Vineyard (Ps. 80:8–16; Isa. 5:1–7; Ezek. 15:1–6). By the Spirit’s presence in our lives, we have entered into an organic union with him—a union of branches to Vine (Rom. 11:24). We are, as the New Testament puts it time and again, “in Christ” (Eph. 1:3–14). We are engrafted into the true Israel. Our lives are hidden with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).
Here Jesus says that he chose his disciples to be his branches; they did not choose him (John 15:16). This reminds us that our calling, as Christ’s present disciples, is not to trumpet our wise decisions but simply to abide—to dwell, to marinate, to go “deeper still” into Jesus. For apart from Jesus, we can do nothing and will bear no fruit. Failing to abide in Jesus does not suggest the possibility of losing one’s salvation; rather it underscores that salvation can be found nowhere else. Continuance in Christ is a test of reality. The Bible teaches both the perseverance of the saints and that true saints will persevere. We strive ahead, yet even that striving is a gift of grace (1 Cor. 15:10; Phil. 2:12–13; Col. 1:29).
Jesus defines the life of abiding as a life of love. Just as the Father loves Jesus, so Jesus loves us. Jesus loves us just as much as the Father loves him. We cannot earn Jesus’ love. Our obedience to Jesus merits nothing, but it profits greatly. Jesus’ commands are not burdensome, for they are for our best, and he has fulfilled the demands and the judgment of God’s law that could condemn us (Rom. 10:4; 2 Cor. 5:21).
The radical grace of the gospel transforms servanthood into friendship. Only grace can free us to obey Jesus out of friendship and worship, and no longer out of fear or self-interest.
- What stood out?
- How can one know if he or she truly abides in the vine?
- What does the Lord do with the branches that do not produce fruit?
Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me.
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
End in Prayer