John 15 (ESV)

“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 . . . Continue Reading

As I read John 15, I was once again struck with the contrast of Jesus’ teaching with the modern “gospel” that is taught in many churches today. Today’s chapter from the Gospel of John, like so many others gives us insight into why people will hate us because of Jesus and why so many will not “endure to the end and be saved.” (Matthew 10:22)

In John 15:2-6, Jesus says, “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.”

He goes on to say, “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.” (John 15:9-10)

What a message. It’s certainly not entertaining, fun, uplifting – unless you’re abiding in Christ. And if we abide in Christ and take this message to the world? He tells us what they’ll think of us in John 15:18-19, “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

Jesus’ message is a dividing message that separates. In Luke 12:51, Jesus says, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” Then in Matthew 10:34, He tells us, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

OUCH!

The unbiblical, distorted image many have of a hippie-like Jesus preaching ONLY peace and love singing “Kumbaya” around a campfire is not the Jesus we see in the biblical text. That doesn’t mean He didn’t look like a hippie and sing songs around a campfire! But if He did, it wasn’t revealed to us in Scripture. What was revealed is a message so divisive, most rejected it then and most will reject it today – including those who preach it.

But He did preach “peace and love” too! The question is, who receives this peace and love? Only those who believe! What’s so divisive about that message? Most people think they believe. He tells us in an earlier chapter of John, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:36)

Abiding and obeying. Denying ourselves and following Him. (Matthew 16:24)

Do we have a false image of Jesus that we worship? Do we only casually read His teachings and never look deep into His message? Are we avoiding the biblical Jesus because we don’t like what we read? Maybe we don’t trust the Bible so we make up a Jesus in our minds and worship “it?”

The second Commandment says, “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me.” (Exodus 20:4-5)

We might not have an actual carved image of Jesus that we bow down to and serve, but if we worship a Jesus that we create in our minds and bow down to it and serve it, God considers that as us hating Him.

I’m clinging onto one of the closing verses in this chapter, John 15:26, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”

Father, guide us into all truth. We need Your Holy Spirit to help us to not be self-deceived and to keep us from deceiving others because of our ignorance. Help us to understand and follow You, Lord Jesus, according to Your revelation to us in Scripture and not our own image of You that we make up in our minds. Give us the courage to teach others about You expecting people to hate us because they hate You. May we have peace and love in Christ by abiding and obeying, denying ourselves and following You. Amen.