John 14 concludes with Jesus and the disciples leaving the Upper Room, so Jesus’ teaching and prayer in John 15-17 happens somewhere between the Upper Room and the Kidron Valley opposite the Mount of Olives. On the walk down toward the valley, before crossing over and entering the olive grove in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, Jesus stopped, perhaps at a vineyard, to teach.
“’I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.’”
John 15:1 NIV
Who was with Jesus at this moment? Just the Eleven? Judas had already left during the Last Supper. Additional disciples? John Mark was there when Jesus was later arrested in the Garden, fleeing as the crowd grabbed his cloak to leave him running away naked. Women followers? They were there as He was condemned and crucified.
On the walk toward Gethsemane, Jesus identified four levels of fruit-bearing for those who are “in Him.” Why was Jesus obsessed with fruit at this particular moment?
1. No Fruit
“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit…”
John 15:2a NIV
Though some might think this refers to the unbeliever, Jesus specifically said that this branch that bore no fruit was in Him. Is it possible for some who belong to Jesus to go through seasons where they bear no fruit? Evidently so.
2. Some Fruit
“…while every branch that does bear fruit…”
John 15:2b NIV
Though there might be seasons where those who are “in Christ” bear no fruit, the norm is clearly that Christ-followers do live fruit-bearing lives.
3. More Fruit
“…he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
John 15:2c NIV
In order for most Christ-followers to move toward a more fruitful spiritual life, some “pruning” will be required. Pruning doesn’t sound fun, right? Pruning can be painful, but pruning is necessary. Pruning is the removal of those things that would diminish our fruit-bearing capacity.
4. Much Fruit
“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…. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
John 15:5, 8 NIV
The progression of Jesus’ metaphor shows the Father’s desire for our lives. He will always be at work in us to glorify Himself by accomplishing His plan through us.
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He is responsible for our fruitfulness. He grafts us into the vine. He cultivates, cares for, and prunes us. He produces the spiritual fruit.
We have one responsibility. Abide. Remain. Stay connected to.
Not “connected to” in the sense of salvation, but rather connected to in the sense of relationship. Abide, as in “be with.” As we spend time with Him, in His Word and in prayer, we are abiding in Him. Our daily time alone with the Father is our spiritual lifeline.
Abiding cannot be separated from the work of the Holy Spirit. The two chapters in the Bible that record Jesus’ most significant teaching on the Holy Spirit are John 14 & 16, and Jesus’ challenge to abide is sandwiched right between them. This is not by coincidence.
Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, who would not just be with them but would actually live in them.
“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.”
John 14:16-17 NIV
Abiding with Jesus would be possible after Jesus departed because He would send the Holy Spirit, who would be a permanent fixture in the disciples’ lives. This is how Jesus would fulfill His promise to the disciples to “never leave you or forsake you.” He promised to not leave them as orphans.
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you…. When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.”
John 14:18, 15:26 NIV
Abiding with Him is accomplished as we allow the Holy Spirit to teach us (Word) and guide us (prayer).
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will TEACH you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.”
John 14:26 NIV
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will GUIDE you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.”
John 16:13 NIV
Spiritual fruit is produced by the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. “The fruit of the Spirit…”
How does the Holy Spirit manifest this fruit in our lives?
1. Supernatural Power in Answered Prayer
“If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.”
John 15:7 NIV
2. Supernatural Joy in Loving Obedience
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”
John 15:11 NIV
3. Supernatural Love through Great Sacrifice.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
John 15:12-13 NIV
4. Supernatural Friendship through Divine Intimacy.
“I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.”
John 15:15 NIV
5. Supernatural Impact through Divine Appointment
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.”
John 15:16 NIV
The kind of fruit Jesus is speaking of here in John 15 is the spiritual harvest, disciple-making fruit. “Go and bear fruit” is the same message Jesus would later give, “Go and make disciples.”
6. Supernatural Strength to Endure Hardship
“Remember what I told you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.”
John 15:20 NIV
Here in John 14-16, on the night before Jesus would go to the cross, He revealed His “Spiritual Secret” to His disciples. Jesus’ spiritual secret is this: Abide
Abide in Christ.
Abide by walking in the Spirit.
Abide by being filled with the Spirit.
Abide and glorify the Father by bearing much fruit.
By Doug Holliday