“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.
9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in my love. 10 When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with my joy. Yes, your joy will overflow! 12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you. 13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me. 16 You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name. 17 This is my command: Love each other.
18 “If the world hates you, remember that it hated me first. 19 The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. 20 Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. 21 They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the One who sent me. 22 They would not be guilty if I had not come and spoken to them. But now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Anyone who hates me also hates my Father. 24 If I hadn’t done such miraculous signs among them that no one else could do, they would not be guilty. But as it is, they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me and my Father. 25 This fulfills what is written in their Scriptures: ‘They hated me without cause.’
26 “But I will send you the Advocate—the Spirit of truth. He will come to you from the Father and will testify all about me. 27 And you must also testify about me because you have been with me from the beginning of my ministry.
Points of Interest
- ‘cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit’–a gardener wants the most fruit they can get from their vines. To increase the yield, they’ll cut off any branches that aren’t growing fruit, so that valuable resources aren’t being sent away from fruit-making. Like a gardener, God is looking for some sort of product in people’s lives. When God doesn’t see what God is looking for, God stops wasting energy in that direction.
- ‘ he prunes the branches that do bear fruit’– Even fruit-bearing branches are pruned, so that the energy goes toward the fruit and not unnecessary leafiness. Every branch faces some cutting. The choice is between being lopped off and being pruned.
- ‘apart from me you can do nothing’ –I think he’s referring specifically to their fruit-making capacity. It’s hopeless–and unnecessary–to attempt this on your own.
- ‘you may ask for anything you want’–whereas unfruitful branches get cut off, fruitful ones get whatever they need, no questions asked.
- ‘Yes, your joy will overflow!’–if you’re doing it right, this type of life is richly satisfying.
- ‘This is my commandment: Love each other’–this seems to be the fruit the Father is looking for. Wherever the Father sees love, he pours out more love. When the disciples choose to love one another, they tap into the very love Jesus and the Father have for one another. Soon, love is flowing in all directions: Father to Son; Son to disciples; disciples to Son; disciples to one another. The love keeps getting bigger.
- ‘If the world hates you’– not everything will be rosy for the disciples. Some people are not fans of love and joy, apparently.
- ‘they have seen everything I did, yet they still hate me’–Jesus did his best to give a clear picture of what God is all about: unfailing love and faithfulness (1:17). He turned water into wine, multiplied bread, healed the sick, forgave sinners, and all along kept saying that these things were all just tiny glimpses of what he could really do. None of it got through. Despite the clear picture of goodness, many just aren’t able to see. It will be no different for the disciples.
- ‘But I will send you the Advocate’–they don’t need to take notes. The Holy Spirit will remind them.
Taking It Home
- For you and your family: What happens when a branch falls off a tree? (It dies.) Jesus says we need to stay connected to him, just like a branch stays connected to a tree. What sort of spiritual practices help us stay most connected to Jesus? Think about the spiritual practices we’re trying during this Leap of Faith. Which have helped you and your family stay better connected to Jesus? Has your family found one or two that you’d like to keep doing after the Leap of Faith? Talk together about your thoughts.
- For your six: Ask Jesus to show his love to your six today. Pray that they would begin to grasp his love as something personal and something good for them. Ask Jesus also to surround your six with people who truly love them.
- For our church: While pruning sounds better than being cut off entirely, the thought of pruning still does makes me slightly wince. It sounds necessary, but uncomfortable. On behalf of our church, tell Jesus that we want to bear good fruit, that we’re willing to be pruned, and that we really want his help in the process. Ask Jesus to help us recognize good fruit, to recognize when pruning is necessary, and to embrace the pruning process.