John 15 Reading Guide

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Chapter Summary

REMEMBER THE CONTEXT: We can't know for sure, but based on the last verse of chapter 14 ("Come now, let us leave"), it's likely that Jesus spoke these words as He and the disciples walked through vineyards on the way from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane. In the early springtime, the grapes have just been pruned, making a vivid contrast between the remaining branches and those thrown on the burn pile.

  • v1-3 - If a healthy grape vine is planted in good soil, and is given plenty of sunshine and water at just the right times, it can not help but to bear grapes. It's in its DNA; in a sense, a planted grape vine must bear fruit.

  • So it is, says Jesus, of His followers: a Christian, planted in the good soil of a church, fed and watered with regular doses of the means of grace (preaching & sacraments), can not help but to bear fruit.

  • If Christians are not bearing fruit (doing good works), it's a sign that the conditions they're in need immediate improvement.

  • v4-11 - Technically, vines do not produce fruit, rather they bear fruit, which is the word John uses.

  • As we saw in the last paragraph, the grape vine doesn't do something to make grapes, rather the grapes passively come naturally.

  • You are not called to produce good works.

  • That's what the Pharisees were trying to do: they were actively trying to fabricate works that made them look better.

  • Rather, you've been called to passively bear the fruit of good works.

  • In other words, take care to make sure you're planted in the right conditions and being regularly fed with God's Word, and then the fruit will come quite naturally (although often you won't even notice - see the parable of the sheep and goats).

  • v12-16 - This is the first of two times in this chapter that Jesus commands His followers to love one another.

  • He points to Himself as the greatest example of love, since at the time He spoke these words He was in the process of laying down His life for His friends.

  • Jesus makes two bold claims about your relationship with Him here:

  • You are His friend if you do what He commands;