Jesus now has to get the disciples? blood moving to make understand the implications of these lessons in holiness. The Lord puts a break in their lesson and tells the disciples to arise and go out from here (14:31). This change of atmosphere itself is a lesson. It?s all well and good to remember the Lord?s lesson on love and separateness when you?re in a warm upper room with food spread out before you?but it is completely different to remember that lesson out in the dark, cold world where betrayal lay right around the corner.
As He had begun His lesson on Holiness with an enacted parable of foot washing, He know illustrates another parable of cleansing. The Lord paints a picture of the True Vine which the branches must abide in. A branch that does not abide proves that it was never a branch by removing itself and it is cast out; its witness shriveled up, picked up and discarded in the fire (Jn 15:6).
This is key: this picture of cleansing is not dependant on the work of the disciples but rather the work of the Father. The disciples were already clean?but now the Father is cleaning with a secondary purpose. The Lord is the true vine?unlike Israel which was a vineyard and the Law surrounded them, separating them from the world. The vinedresser did all in His power to make sure that this vineyard brought forth good fruit but instead it brought forth sour grapes of oppression and pride (Is 5:1-7).
The Church is not a new vineyard as if the Lord has now a New Israel which is encircled by His love and commandments and now is to grow on her own steam?not at all. Presently, the Vinedresser is working via the True Vine which is the Lord Jesus (Jn 15:1). We are branches and the Lord is the vine and we are to get our life source from Him (Jn 15:4-5). The Father is personally in charge of making sure the branches bear fruit and when the branches bear fruit, the Father is personally responsible for making sure that it is pruned so as to bear more fruit (Jn 15:2).
This is no longer speaking of provision, but rather of role plus reciprocation. The Father will do His part in making sure that we who believe are holy and bear good fruit and we are to do our part in responding to this process, receiving our sustenance from Him. For when we bear much fruit we prove to be the Lord?s disciples and thus we are told to love the Lord as evidence of abiding in His love (Jn 15:7-9).
Are we doing this to receive Christ?s love? No, but by doing this we prove our love for Him. He is our Friend and we are His friends if we do what He commands (Jn 15:14). No longer slaves but friends so why does He tell his disciples to keep His commandments (Jn 15:15)?
I hate Cream of Wheat and its ilk. Vile stuff the lot of it. I was force fed it every Sunday up until my mid-teens. But, I love eggs and bagels and Cap?n Crunch! Let?s say you, as my friend, invite me over to your house and you ask me what I like and don?t like to eat. I tell you but the thing is you like Cream of Wheat and Oat Meal and Grits so you decide to make it for me for breakfast the next day. You put the food down in front of me and I will eat it with no hesitation. The next day you prepare the same meal and you see a shadow over my face. Presently you ask me what?s wrong and I shrug it off and say nothing. The next day you repeat your meal?question: how do you think I feel? After I told you how much I hate Cream of Wheat and you keep serving it especially now that you know what I like and don?t like?
Likewise, we are to keep the Lord?s commandments (Jn 15:10, 12, 13, 17) not so that He loves us in return but so that we show that we love Him. But this love is not hidden in an upper room but done outside, before the world, showing all men our love for God.
Just as the first lesson opened with an example of love and an exposure of Judas? hatred, this part of the lesson does the same, now exposing the world?s hatred. For this love that we are to perform is to be done in the very midst of intense hatred (Jn 15:19) and persecution (Jn 15:20) for the slave is not greater than the Master (Jn 15:20), as the Lord had previously stated (Jn 13:16).
This love is to maintain its fervency but thank God that we are not left alone in this love?but the Helper also testifies the truth to the world (Jn 15:26) that they hated the Lord, proving their hatred of the Father and now we should expect no less (Jn 15:21-25). The disciples are to bear witness of this fact because they had been with the Lord from the beginning (Jn 15:27)?and we are to bear witness because we have the testimony in our very hands.
So let us love the Lord and gather our life source from Him, being fully confident that He who has begun the good work in us will also finish it and perfect it (Phi 1:6). In so doing we are reflecting the Lord?s joy in us and subsequently our joy being made full (Jn 15:11).