As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.
“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’
“But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me. And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.
In these chapters, John is giving us an intentional view into Jesus’ words to His believing disciples. The entire 15th chapter is Jesus’ words. These words give us almost endless insight and direction to what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
Last week we unpacked that Jesus is the new vine. Where Israel failed as the vine, Jesus triumphed! He is the fulfillment of all that Israel was to be. He is the full revelation of God that blesses every nation.
Love And Obedience
Love and obedience are the theme of Jesus’ final words to His believing disciples as well as us in John’s gospel (verses 9-10). Jesus abides in the Father by love and obedience and we abide in Jesus (like branches on a vine) by love and obedience. We are to show that we are Jesus’ friends by our obedience to His command - to love one another.
Our obedience is not like the uncomprehending submission of a slave. Instead, our obedience is the eager intelligent obedience of those whose master is also the one who has made them his friends (verse 15). We have been freed from slavery. Religion often requires slavish obedience. Jesus calls us to put Him on display by our love for one another.
Love and obedience is the fruit of his new vine called Jesus. He chose us and has called us to “go and bear fruit”. We are a sent people. We show our love by obedience and we show our obedience by our love. When love and obedience cease we know that the branch is dead.
We are to bear fruit in the dark world where the light shines.
Hatred And Rejection
The love that binds Jesus to the Father is His obedience “unto death” (Philippians 2:8). The love that will bind disciples to Jesus is the total denial of self, even to the point of death. Self-assertion is the opposite of self-denial. The world hated and rejected Jesus and found no place for Him except the cross. Jesus lets His disciples know that they will share the same rejection (verses 18-19). As Christians, we should not be surprised if we are hated or rejected.
Friends of Jesus will live in such counter-cultural ways that the world will reject it as weak. The sign of the cross will be the mark by which true friends will be recognized. When we are attacked and persecuted, it is Jesus whom they attack (Acts 9:4-5).
The glory that the world seeks comes from achievement. The glory of God is surrender. The light and true glory of God has shone in the words and works of Jesus. But the world had heard the words and seen the works and rejected and hated the One who spoke and acted.
Jesus wants His disciples to know that when they face this they can have peace, love, and joy (verse 11) because they are His friends. They have and Advocate (Holy Spirit) that will rise up and will bring the very power and truth of God Himself into the situation.
This rejection is not cause for alarm or distress but rather a confidence that they really do belong to Jesus and it is an opportunity for the mighty witness of the Spirit of truth!
The works, words, and sufferings of the community of Jesus will bring the witness of the Spirit.
The concept of denying self runs counter to our American/Western culture. In what tangible ways can you live out this idea of self-denial?
Rick mentioned that “self-assertion is the opposite of self-denial.” Can you think of moments in your own life when self-assertion (the “need” to be right or to be respected, etc.) has become an idol or has led to sin? Talk about those moments.
Is it ever acceptable to assert yourself?
Think of some examples from the gospels where Jesus was meek (denied himself) and other times where he was assertive. What are the distinguishing aspects or motivations of his meekness and/or his assertiveness?