15 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
(John 15:1-8 NIV)
As we begin Chapter 15 today, we must set the context by looking at the last five words of Chapter 14:
“Come now; let us leave.”
Jesus shares His final thoughts with His disciples while on the move. They are walking from the upper room where they had their last meal together, across the Kidron Valley, to the Garden of Gethsemane. There is an urgency in Jesus’ walk and talk. This walk is not a leisurely stroll. In a matter of minutes, Judas Iscariot will set in motion a series of events that will forever change history.
Many people lump chapters 13 through 17 together, often labeling them the “Upper Room Discourse.” In fact, Jesus only teaches His disciples in the Upper Room during chapters 13 and 14. Chapters 15 through 17 are on the walk to Gethsemane.
With this context in mind, Chapters 15 through 17 should be read and studied as a whole. While this would be ideal with no limits on time and space, we will tackle these three chapters in smaller chunks and reference prior teachings as needed for proper context.
Jesus begins by reminding His disciples about the necessity of remaining connected to Him by the visual image of a vine and its branches. We don’t know what would prompt Jesus to use that illustration; did they walk past the Temple, with its columns decorated with vines, branches, and fruit? Or did they walk past a vineyard on their way to Gethsemane? Whatever triggered this illustration, it was certainly meaningful to Jesus’ disciples as well as us today.
Notice that the goal of the branches remaining connected to the vine is not to live well and have great foliage. The goal is to bear fruit. And what is the purpose of bearing fruit for the kingdom of God? Because it brings glory to God (v. 8).
The ultimate “yield” of our lives is not what we know, what we have said, or what we have done. The final product of our lives is what glory we give to God. Don’t misread the previous statement – what we learn, say, and do is important and commanded by the Lord, part of His design to be more like Him. But the “why”, the motivation for what we do is even more important. If we learn, say, and do things (even things Scripture commands) for our glory rather than God’s glory, we have missed the point. We’re growing foliage, and not bearing fruit that brings glory to God.
Jesus stressed the necessity of remaining in Him. Only in Jesus can we survive and thrive and bear fruit. Yes, there will be pruning as well (v. 2). Pruning is no fun, and often painful, but the result is a life that produces even more fruit (v. 2).
Jesus repeats His promise from chapter 14 (verses 13 – 14) to answer our prayers if we love and obey Him (v. 7).
Is there any better reason to love and obey the Lord than to know we can give glory to the God of the universe (v. 8), that we can bear fruit that honors Him?
It’s not about us – it’s all about Him. And we find our peace, satisfaction, and ultimate fulfillment in giving our lives and heart to Him and Him alone.