The Lord Jesus makes all things new. Today we read His seventh and final ″I am″ statement: ″I am the true vine″ (v. 1). He claims to be the new Israel.
Israel is called God’s vine (Psalm 80:8; Jeremiah 2:21; Hosea 10:1), but consistently fails to produce fruit. Jesus is the truly fruitful vine, who never fails. Jesus is the vine (v. 1), His Father is the gardener (vv. 1-2), and believers are the fruit-bearing branches (v. 5). In order to bear fruit the branch must remain attached to the vine (v. 4). For the believer, our reason for being is fruitfulness. The condition for fruitfulness is connection to Jesus (vv. 5-6).
Here is the picture of authentic discipleship-we remain in Jesus by His words (His teaching) remaining in us, directing our prayers; and so we live life to God’s glory (vv. 7-8). Remember, Jesus is about to leave the disciples, so prayer will become even more vital.
Jesus turns their attention to the fact that the disciples are loved (v. 9); and as He remains in the Father’s love by obedience, so we remain in His love by obediently loving one another (vv. 10-17). He then speaks of the arena of hatred-the world (vv. 18-26). The world will hate them because they are different; they don’t belong to the world (v. 19). There is solidarity between the servant and the master (v. 20), ″If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first″; ″If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also.″ (vv. 18, 20) The hatred of the world is sinful because it rejects the clear revelation of Jesus (v. 22). Jesus’ revelation is a double-edged sword: it turns those who receive it into friends of Jesus (v. 15) and those who reject Him and His believers into guilty sinners (v. 24).
The Father’s response to such hatred is a model for our own. He reaches out to the world by sending the testifying Holy Spirit and the testifying believer into the world (vv. 25-26). Our testimony is part of a two-fold testimony: the Holy Spirit, ″and you also must testify″ (v. 27). Ryle reminds us that ″true grace is never idle″.12 It seeks always to reach out to the lost.
Your vital connection with Jesus through prayer, directed by an intelligent submission to His teaching, will direct a life of love for fellow disciples and an active testimony to the world.
Relationship to Jesus-Remain!
Relationship to one another-Love!
Relationship to the world-Testify!
12J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John, vol. 3 (London: Banner of Truth, 1987), 291.
What encouragment can you find from today’s passage in facing the world’s hatred?
How can you testify about Jesus today?