By Tyson Thorne

September 24, 2019

John 44 Large

Normally I like to follow the literary direction an author sets when trying to understand their message. I mentioned last time, that there are some passages that are better understood by the Western mind when we break the teaching down into its component parts. We did this with the end of the Upper Room discourse and we'll do the same with this passage. This may aid in our understanding, the drawback is that we lose the beauty of the language, of the metaphors. For this reason you should read the passage first, then come back for the breakdown of the teaching.

In chapter 15 Jesus has three primary discussion points, all related to relationships.

The first lesson is to have a right relationship with Jesus (15.1-11). Jesus compares a right relationship with a vine and it's branches. Jesus is the True Vine, which begs the question: What other vines were there? Psalm 80.8 (along with Isaiah 5.1-7; Jeremiah 2.21; 6.9; Ezekiel 15; 17.5-10; 19.10-14; and Hosea 10.1; 14.8) describe the nation Israel as God's vine which he provided for generously. The nation was to develop fruit among all the nations, a desire that never came to — ahem — fruition. This is one reason why we at Think-Biblically do not cede the common understanding that Christianity grew out of Judaism. Instead, Judaism and Christianity grew out of something much older, the faith of Abraham. But this is off the main point. Jesus-followers are a part of the true vine, and as such are expected to bear the fruit Israel never did. We are attached to God in a special way, and our faith cannot survive if separated from the vine. We have a relationship based on need — a need for salvation to be sure but more than this, we desperately need God to grow in faith, bear fruit, and to live. God might be our friend (as he was Abraham's, 2 Chronicles 20.7), but he is also the sustainer of our physical and spiritual life.

The second lesson is to have a right relationship with other believers(15.12-17). The love Jesus showed the disciples was how they were to love everyone in the family of God. Jesus-followers grow when they care for other believers, which is one reason why we are not to forsake assembling together (Hebrews 10.25). The kind of love we are to have for our brothers and sisters in Christ is ultimate, to the point that we would sacrifice our life for theirs. Here Jesus calls us his friend (verses 15 through 17). Instead of being mere servants who obey without understanding the master's plan, Jesus disclosed to us his plans which we fulfill when we follow him. Loving Jesus means loving his followers.

The final lesson is have a right relationship with the world (15.18-27). It is important to understand from the start that the world is not our enemy. That said, the world we treat us as its enemy. Being a friend of God means we are at odds with the world. God's very existence, and by proxy our existence too, condemns the world for its sinfulness. No matter how baddly we may be treated, we are to show others the love of God. Our real enemy is, of course Satan and his fallen army as well as the sin nature that still resides inside us.

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