John 15:1-2 (NIV) 1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
On verses 1-2: Here Jesus refers to himself as the true vine. Why the “true” vine? It’s because Jesus knew that soon his followers would be threatened by persecution and false teaching. Thus in calling himself the true vine Jesus is reminding his followers that he is the way, the truth and the life they are looking for, not anything else or anyone else.
Here Jesus also refers to God the Father as the gardener, and people as branches on the vine. As branches on the vine we are expected to bear much fruit (v8). What kind of fruit? The fruit of believing in Jesus and becoming more like Jesus. When we are persistently fruitless – when we don’t believe in Jesus and don’t become more like Jesus – at some point we will be cut off. But if we are fruitful, God takes steps to “prune us” – that is, cleanse us, brace us, and lift us up – so that we can be more fruitful.
John 15:3 (NIV) 3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.
On verse 3: How does God cleanse us, brace us and support us – i.e. prune us? Through Jesus’ Word. It is Jesus’ word of forgiveness and cleansing that makes us forgiven and cleansed before God. In addition, the more I get into the Word of God and let the Word of God change me, the more I experience God’s cleansing power in my life.
John 15:4-5 (NIV) 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.
On verses 4-5: Just as a branch cannot bear fruit by itself and must remain in the vine to stay alive, so we cannot bear fruit apart from Jesus. That’s why a connection to, and a relationship with, Jesus Christ is so crucial.
John 15:6 (NIV) 6 If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
On verse 6: If I don’t remain in Jesus – i.e. if I don’t believe in Jesus and don’t have a relationship with Jesus – eventually God the gardener will cut me off and throw me into the fire. Fire here is likely a reference to hell and judgment.
John 15:7 (NIV) 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.
On verse 7: In addition to bearing fruit (v5), another benefit of remaining in Jesus and letting his words remain in us is that we’ll experience the blessing of answered prayer (“ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you”). That’s because as we remain in Jesus and let His words remain in us, the things we want and the things we ask for in prayer become more aligned with what God wants. We start to experience the joy of God answering our prayers because we are praying the way God wants us to pray when we remain in Him.
John 15:8 (NIV) 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
On verse 8: When you bear much fruit by believing in Jesus and becoming more like Jesus, it brings glory to your Heavenly Father and you show that you are truly a disciple of Jesus. May you be a very fruitful branch in Jesus.
Jesus, may I be a branch that remains in You and bears much fruit, for that is what I born to do. Thank You that by Your Word You prune me, cleanse me, support me and lift me up, so that I can bear more fruit for You. May Your words remain in me today, that the things I want and ask for would be consistent with what’s on Your heart too. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!