As Jesus continues to talk with his disciples, he uses a vine metaphor. He tells them that he is the true vine and that God is the gardener who cuts off every branch that doesn’t bear fruit. If you stopped reading there, you might give a sigh of relief, thinking, “Whew! Glad I missed that bullet, I’m very fruitful.” Read on.
It goes on to say that God prunes every branch that does produce fruit, so that it will be even more fruitful. Perhaps, if you are struggling right now, but trying to do everything right as you walk with God, you are being pruned. Hang in there; God has a plan and you may be getting ready to produce some unbelievably beautiful and delicious fruit.
Pruning means cutting off parts of the plant that aren’t fruitful. It’s probably a good idea for us to reflect from time-to-time on what in our lives is producing good fruit for God and what may need to be pruned.
Jesus then says that we have to remain in him, stay with him. We can’t wander away and still produce good fruit, because a branch can’t produce fruit when it is cut off from the vine. It will die without the nutrients of the main vine. He also says that dead branches will be picked up and burned. This is a reference to judgement.
We like to think of Jesus’ message of love for everyone and that is the heart of his message. But, he also clearly states that we have to follow him. There are consequences if we don’t.
He goes on to say that if we remain in him, his words will remain in us and he will give us whatever we ask to glorify God. He is not being literal here. It’s not like, “I love you Jesus and I believe in you, so please give me a new car.” The point is, if we follow Jesus and know his teachings and words, we will know how to pray and what to pray for to glorify God, (not ourselves).
Next, Jesus talks about love. God has loved him and Jesus loves us. He urges us to stay in his love. He tells us this so that our joy may be complete. Jesus is concerned about our joy. These are not empty rules. He doesn’t say do these things or else. He says that he wants us to have complete joy. Imagine life with complete joy. Looks pretty good, right?
Then we get the great command. “Love each other as I have loved you.” He talks about laying down your life for friends, something he is about to willingly do. He says that he chose these disciples. They were chosen. He chooses us in the same way. We are chosen to love him, to love each other and to follow him.
The rest of this short chapter warns the disciples and us that the world will hate them just as it hates him. This is to be expected. The “world” lives in direct opposition to God and his plan and people. He tells them again that the Holy Spirit will be coming to testify the truth.
We too, are called to testify. That simply means that we are supposed to share the truth of Christ when we are given the chance. It’s a call to all of us.
What do you think about today’s reading? I’d love to hear from you.
Have an awesome day!