BSF Study Questions John Lesson 20, Day 3: John 15:1-8

Summary of passage: Jesus says he is the vine and God is the gardener. God cuts off those who don’t bear fruit and prunes the branches that do bear fruit. Believers will only bear fruit if they remain in Jesus. Apart from Jesus, you can do nothing. Ask whatever you wish and as long as you remain in Jesus, your wish will be granted. For God’s glory you will bear much fruit.

Questions:

6)  Personal Question. My answer: My family, my job, my purpose in life. I could be doing more in writing my novel and helping others. I am failing in gentleness and self-control. These are my hardest areas especially since my heart towards the world and others is very hard. I can be brash and rude. Loving others is hard for me as well. I do have joy and peace though. I could always be more patient and kind. I’m pretty faithful though to God and others.

7)  Yes. No. Jesus says apart from me he can do nothing. He can bear no fruit. If believers stray, then they are leading lives of quiet desperation where nothing is being accomplished that God wants. Even if you are doing good but your heart is empty of God you are not growing and those around you are not growing or seeing God’s light. You are withering and you are empty inside. Eventually you will shrivel instead of bloom. God wants us to bloom and bloom for Him!  You must remain connected to God always.

8)  Personal Question. My answer: Well, you are constantly being cleansed and molded and growing if you abide with Christ and stay connected.  I hope I’ve been more fruitful. One, to you all. Two, to my family. Three, in my job. Four, in my personal life. I hope I’ve grown more mature and been more fruitful to others. I still have much to do though.  We have been abundantly blessed through Him.

Conclusions: Love this lesson! It’s great to reflect on how we are living out God’s calling in our lives and if we think we’ve grown or been more fruitful or productive in doing so. And the fruits of the spirit is something we all need to constantly ask ourselves and check in with how we are doing. Are we more patient? Kind? Loving? At peace? Etc. Great reflection time!

End Notes: [Same from yesterday]  Most scholars believe Jesus is speaking to the disciples here as they are standing in the upper room, preparing to depart.  Jesus only has a few more hours to prepare his disciples for the tumult ahead. These are his closest friends and he is about to leave them. He knows they will face fierce opposition, hatred, beatings, and execution. So, he reaches for an allegory to explain himself again.

One, grapes. They were just drinking wine. He says they must remain connected to him in order to bear everlasting fruit. Two, dead branches. They have lost their connection somehow and now useless.

The vine. Jesus’ 7th and last I am statement.  This would have stood out to both believers and unbelievers since everyone knew God as the great “I am”.  Jesus is equivocating himself with God in all these statements.

The vine was a familiar symbol. God repeatedly used a vine as a symbol of His people in the Hebrew Scriptures (Psalm 80:8-9). Yet it was often used in a negative sense (as in Isaiah 5:1-2, 7 and Jeremiah 2:21). Just in the previous week Jesus publicly taught about Israel being like a vineyard in the Parable of the Vineyard (Matthew 21:33-44).

Vineyards were everywhere in ancient Israel. There was a large golden vine set as a prominent decoration on the front of the temple communicating the idea that Israel was God’s vine. And it was a recognized symbol of the Messiah.

Jesus is the true vine. We must be rooted in him in order to bear fruit. The branch and the vine picture complete dependence upon one another as well. The vine in the Old Testament pictured Israel and God as the tender of the vine.

There are two understandings for verse 2. Either the branches are taken away because they were never abiding the first place (judgment) or they are lifted up (another possible translation of the Greek) to be taken care of.

The word for prunes does mean cleansing as well in the Greek. The vine will maximize its fruit if it is pruned. God removes the dead wood from his church and disciplines the life of the believer so that it is directed into fruitful activity. Good fruit in the New Testament represents a godly life (Matthew 3:8; 7:16-20) or virtues of character (Galatians 5:22-23; Ephesians 5:9; Philippians 1:11).

The work of pruning has already begun in the disciples as they listen to the Word of God. There is an initial cleansing and then more (John 13:10). Through the Word, we are cleansed (Ephesians 5:26). It condemns sin, inspires holiness, and promotes growth.

Abiding or remaining is a two-way street. Choose to abide in Jesus and he will abide in you. You have to be connected to the vine, to Jesus, to bear fruit. Otherwise, it’s impossible.

Jesus repeats himself that he is the vine since so often they thought of Israel as the vine. The purpose of caring for the vine is to receive fruit. In this sense, we can say that fruit represents Christian character (such as the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5). God’s work in us and our connection to Him should be evident by fruit, and perhaps by much fruit. Fruits contain seeds which are meant to be spread.

Jesus abides in us in an active way.

We can do nothing of real, eternal value without Jesus. You must remain connected to the master or you will fail.

Note you are thrown away, withered, and then burned–a slow progression of losing that connection with the Father. Fire is associated with punishment and eternal repercussions like the burning lake of sulphur in Revelation. It also was an Old Testament symbol of punishment.

Verse 6 Interpretations of the cast out branches:

1) Believes are the cast out branches who, though once true believers, end up in hell for lack of abiding and fruit. They were once disciples, but are now cast out

2) The cast out branches are ones who only appeared to be disciples, and who never really abided in Jesus, and therefore go to hell (like Judas)

3) The cast out branches are fruitless disciples who live wasted lives that are in effect burnt up, and this passage doesn’t refer to their eternal destiny (like Lot, Abraham’s nephew)

However, all agree that there are no true disciples who do not abide. The branch must remain connected to the vine or it has no life and is of no lasting good. Genuine salvation is evidenced by a life of fruitfulness.

Verse 7: Jesus connected abiding to the idea of faithfulness to His words (John 14:23-24) and answered prayer (John 14:13-14).

Spurgeon says “Prayer is the natural outgushing of a soul in communion with Jesus. It comes spontaneously from those who abide in Jesus.”

It is impossible to pray correctly apart from knowing and believing the teachings of Christ.

Abiding in Jesus means abiding in His words, and having His words live in the disciple.

Tenney explains: “The connection is maintained by obedience and prayer. To remain in Christ and to allow his words to remain in oneself means a conscious acceptance of the authority of his word and a constant contact with him by prayer.”

This faithful, abiding disciple should expect answered prayer as part of their relationship with Jesus. A failure to see prayer answered means something is not right in the disciple’s relationship. Perhaps something is not right in the abiding, and prayers are amiss and unanswered. Perhaps something is not right in the asking and there is no perception of what Jesus wants to do in and through His disciple.

Verse 8: We must remember bearing fruit is for God’s glory, not our own. When we achieve great things, it is God’s will and through God’s might not ours. We give credit to Him for we ourselves can do nothing.

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