Lesson 14 w/AnswersJohn 15:1-27
Continuing our study of Jesus’ teachings in the Upper Room during the last evening before his betrayal, we now find ourselves in Chapter 15 of John’s Gospel. We recall from our previous lesson that the disciples came into the Upper Room with a completely different view of Christ and his ministry than Jesus did. However, we see that Jesus has been opening their eyes all evening to new truths, and the teachings that we will be examining in this lesson will continue this process.
Read through John Chapter 15 and consider the following:
- Read John 15:1-11 and note the focus of Jesus’ teaching in this passage. We need to take a close look at these verses, as they very much apply to us today. Namely, what does Jesus mean when he instructs the disciples and us to "remain in me," or to "abide in me?" List below each time Jesus uses the terms abide in me or remain in me, and note what he teaches each time that he uses these expressions.
- ANSWER 1: John 15:4, if you do not remain in Jesus, you cannot bear fruit by yourself
- ANSWER 2: John 15:5, by abiding in Jesus, you will bear much fruit.
- ANSWER 3: John 15:6, if you do not remain in Jesus, you will be "thrown away" and "burned."
- ANSWER 4: John 15:7, if you abide in Jesus, "you will ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you."
- ANSWER 5: John 15:9-10, if we follow Jesus’ teachings, we are able to abide or remain in his love.
- Jesus states that he is the "true vine" and that God, his father, is the one who takes care of the vine. Before Jesus’ earthly ministry, who was God’s vine and what happened to it? (Read Isaiah 5:1-7)
- ANSWER: "For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah are his pleasant planting." Israel was his vineyard, but it did not produce the fruit that the vine dresser desired. Rather, it became a waste, and the vine dresser no longer protected it or took care of it.
- What fruit did the vine dresser expect of the original vineyard? (see Isaiah 5:7)
- ANSWER: God expected the nation of Israel to be a righteous and just people, but it failed on both counts.
- What fruit does the vine dresser expect of his new vineyard? What does he expect of us? (See Galatians 5:22 and Matthew 7:15-27)
- ANSWER: Both in Matthew and in Galatians, God is quite clear regarding the differences between good and bad fruit, and we are charged to use these differences in order to "recognize them by their fruits." While Galatians gives us a specific list of the fruits of the spirit, Matthew goes a step further to show us that judging by appearances is not a good way to judge good fruit from bad. (see Mathew 7:21-23) Matthew 7:24 tells us that we are to not only hear the words of Jesus, but we are also to do them. Bearing fruit requires action on our part. God expects our actions to be the fruit that He is looking for from this vine, i.e., the "true vine," Jesus. Today, we should examine ourselves to determine if God needs to trim off any dead branches so that we can better produce the kind of fruit He expects from us. If we always abide in Jesus, we will surely produce the right fruit.
- Let’s consider for a moment the difference between the branch and the vine in a vineyard. What is the purpose of the branch itself, and what does it need the vine for?
- ANSWER 1: Clearly, the purpose of the branch is to grow and produce much fruit, but it can only do this if it is fed by the vine. When the vine is trying to feed both living and dead branches, it cannot do both; so the vine dresser has to prune all of the dead branches so that the living ones will produce greater amounts of fruit. In this way, he keeps the vine and the branches healthy; and in doing so, he produces a much larger and fruitful crop.
- ANSWER 2: And so it is with the Lord. We can only produce good fruit if we are fed by the Word of God, and if we allow the Lord to clear all of the dead brush and branches from our lives. This is what it truly means to abide in Christ.
- Jesus then tells the disciples that, as they become fruitful followers of Him, they will be hated. Why is this? How could honest fruit–bearing followers of Christ be hated when they seek to love one another and live a life pleasing to Him? What does he say will happen to his disciples, and why? Does this specific teaching still apply today, or only to the original disciples? (see John 15:18-25)
- ANSWER 1: Jesus tells them, as he tells us today, that if we are not of this world, then this world will hate us just as it hated him.
- ANSWER 2: Jesus also tells them that they are going to be persecuted, and we as well can expect persecution today. He tells us that, "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." As a result, we cannot follow Jesus and expect the world to love us when it hates him.
- ANSWER 3: Jesus additionally asserts that "they hated me without cause," just as today we see persecuted Christians around the world being persecuted for no just cause—other than that fact that they place their faith in Jesus and follow him no matter the circumstances.
At this point in our study, Jesus is now close to having completed his teaching of the disciples, and he is also close to the end of his earthly ministry. In our next lesson, we will examine his further teachings regarding the coming "Helper." After this, he will close with a prayer—some might even call it the Lord’s Prayer—and he will lead them out of the Upper Room and across the Kidron valley to the Garden of Gethsemane.
As we leave this lesson, let’s focus on abiding in Jesus, walking with him and talking with him, as the Holy Spirit, the Helper, leads us. Let’s also pray that God will cause us to be a blessing to someone this week as we physically and spiritually take Jesus into a lost and dying world.