Day 19

The True Vine

from the John reading plan


John 15:1-27, Zephaniah 3:14-17

In John 15, Jesus unfolds a familiar metaphor—He is the vine, we are the branches. What does this mean? People have taken this image to mean a lot of things. Some focus on how it highlights the nearness of Christ. Others may focus on how it promises that we will do amazing things for God as fruit-bearing branches. But Jesus’ focus of the metaphor is obedience. The Son cooperates with the Father, and then calls us to cooperate with Him.

John 15:9 reads a little like a math story-problem. Solve for why we should obey: “As the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you. Remain in My love.” The sequence of our connection to Christ in this verse is important to see. As the Father has loved Christ, so Christ has loved us. For this reason we are called to remain in His love—because He has loved us as the Father has loved Him. Think about that. There is not a single degree of difference between the strength of God’s love for Christ and Christ’s love for us. Not even a hint.

How do we remain in a love like this? Jesus answered plainly in the chapter before: “If you love Me, you will keep My commands” (John 14:15). We remain in the love of Christ by obeying. Here is where we can go off the rails, though. Love precedes obedience. If you reverse that order, you lose the gospel. Obedience is not how we obtain Christ’s love. It is a response to it.

True Christian obedience is always a response to the already-existing love of Christ, not an attempt to earn it. We love because He loved us.

If we love Jesus, the only response that makes any sense at all is to obey what He commands. If Jesus, the Son of God, came in the flesh for the purpose of living and dying in our place, then what command could He give us that would not be for our good? What bit of guidance could He issue that wouldn’t exist to strengthen the bond of our love for Him? Why would Christ call us to anything if it didn’t serve to strengthen our comprehension of the depth of His love for us?

It is God’s design that our lives would resemble Christ’s—that we bear fruit that shows Christ to others. This, Jesus tells us, brings glory to God—when our lives bear fruit that reveals Christ (John 15:8). What an amazing thought, that the commands of Christ are not given to be a burden (Matthew 11:30), but a path to freedom, peace, and an always deepening understanding of His love for us—which, in turn, reveals His love to others.

Because of all this, Jesus says, “Remain in me.”

May our obedience to Christ always be a response to His already-existing, never-failing love for us. And may our obedience—flawed and incomplete as it is—bring glory to Christ, to the delight of the Father.

Written By Russ Ramsey

Post Comments (4)

4 thoughts on "The True Vine"

  1. Ken Fuller says:

    I love the prayer this day ends with:

    “May our obedience to Christ always be a response to His already-existing, never-failing love for us. And may our obedience—flawed and incomplete as it is—bring glory to Christ, to the delight of the Father.”

    We should always seek to obedient to God’s Word because of a deepening love for His Son.

  2. Phil says:

    Did you know that many trees, if not pruned, will become stricken with disease, become infested with insects that will destroy the tree, or will grow in such an odd manner that they eventually die due to the burden and stress that the tree has taken on?

    What an amazing analogy Jesus has given us in these verses; pruning. Pruning can be hard; it physically and metaphorically requires the careful removal, or cutting off if you will, of parts of ourselves in order for a healthier, more bountiful, fruitful portion of us to grow. But aren’t we just like trees? If we are left unpruned, unscathed, untamed, we will grow wild and the disease of this world will ultimately wear us down to the point that we can’t even bear the weight of our own selves? I quite literally don’t know what I’d do without Jesus, because without Him, I remember how odd my branches grew, how they held no fruit, and how the sin that had hold of my life was slowly killing me each day. Lord prune me so that I grow into a beautiful representation for others of your son.

    Another analogy I always love to share that The Bible gives us on this is the refiners fire; the silver smiths “testing.” A silver smith will heat silver to a temperature at which is so hot that the silver liquifies but the impurities will rise from the silver and be left floating on top. The silver smith will then remove the imperfections that are left floating on top of the silver. He will continue to do this over and over, repeatedly, until he can see his own reflection, without flaw, in the silver.

    How incredible it is that God uses this analogy for us as well… God allows us to go through the Fire and the Heat, he allows the trials to come in our lives so that the imperfections will rise to the top so He can remove them from our lives. And slowly, but surely, He removes more and more filth and more and more impurities from our lives each time; in order for that, one day, He can hopefully look at us, His children, and see the reflection of Christ in us!

  3. Kevin says:

    If we aren’t abiding in the lord, we’re spending that time chasing after things of this world. Each day is a battle to give ourselves to the lord. But he is so worth it and every command we receive from him is for our own good whether we see it or not.

  4. Justin MacKenzie says:

    As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (John 15:9)

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