Jesus Prepares His Disciples 1
Welcome back to our Easter 2013 series, AGOG – A Glimpse of God. We are on Day 23 of our adventure, looking together at the life of the most amazing person in human history - Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Today we look briefly at Jesus preparing His disciples for the coming few days when He will depart from them.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch of mine that bears no fruit, he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already made clean by the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If a man does not abide in me, he is cast forth as a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you will, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.
Jesus and His disciples are now in Jerusalem. They had a triumphant entry. Jesus is saying goodbye to His disciples and giving them some final teaching before He departs. Several times He has told them He is leaving them and going away (John 13:33; John 14:3-4, 19, 28). His departure from them involved him being arrested, betrayed, condemned and crucified. Jesus was going away to die, be raised to life and ascend back to the Father.
As usual Jesus uses Old Testament language. In the Old Testament the nation of Israel is often described as a vine (Jeremiah 2:21; Psalm 80). However as a vine, Israel had not produced fruit that God had expected. With Jesus describing Himself as the true Vine, the implication is clear that the nation of Israel was but an imperfect precursor to His perfect self. With Jesus as the vine, his disciples are the branches, and will draw spiritual nourishment from Him. As part of this nourishment, sometimes pruning is required.
Cleansing is also required in order that fruit be borne from the disciples. They were cleansed of sin through faith in Jesus and His teaching. The disciples are to remain in Jesus! How are they do that? They are to be obedient to Him. This included regularly confessing outstanding sins to God and participating in the Lord’s Supper. Jesus tells his disciples these things so His joy may live in them. Peace and joy would be twins within his disciples if they stayed faithful to Jesus.
For when in the very near future, Jesus has departed back to God the Father, His disciples have to prove they really are His disciples. In order for this to happen, Jesus commands them they are to continue loving Him and also to sacrificially love others joyfully (John 15:12-14). Jesus would prove His love for His disciples by laying down his life for them when he goes to the cross. That is the greatest love. This is to be Jesus’ disciples’ mission statement, and if they live this out, they will bear much good fruit for God’s greater glory (John 15:8).
Note that Jesus now calls them His friends. He calls them his friends because that is what they are. Jesus has made known to them all He has learned from the Father. There was more to teach them, but they would have to wait for the Holy Spirit in order to be able to bear that teaching. Jesus had chosen each of them to follow Him. Remember Matthew the tax collector? Jesus commanded him to follow – and Matthew did. That is one example. It is to the glory of God, that we in the 21st century if we are followers of Jesus, that Jesus’ disciples did as they were commanded to by Jesus.
Come back tomorrow for Day 24 of our series AGOG, as we continue to look together at that extraordinary man, Jesus Christ, through the Gospel accounts! We shall see together Jesus continuing to prepare His disciples for when He leaves them!
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