Day 15 – Pauline
Summary of Chapter 15
Verses 1-17: Here Jesus uses the analogy of a grape vine to describe how we should relate to Jesus. The word ‘remain’ (NIV) or ‘abide’ (NKJV) is repeated 11 times in 10 verses. Similarly, the word ‘fruit’ is repeated 7 times in 8 verses. Repetition is a technique used by writers to emphasise something that’s important; something that they don’t want you to miss.
The message is clear, and strong – if you want to be fruitful, you’ve got to remain connected to the Vine.
Verses 18 -25: In contrast to the previous verses which talk about the love and friendship of Jesus, here Jesus describes the hatred and persecution that His followers should expect from ‘the world’ – those who have chosen to reject God’s offer of rescue.
Verses 26-27: explain the work of the Holy Spirit – He testifies to us about Jesus, so that we can testify to the world. The revelation that we have been blessed with, has never been intended to be kept to ourselves. His purpose for our lives is simply this: that we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us, and through us.
Key thoughts from Chapter 15
The first 11 verses of this chapter are my absolute favourite verses of the Bible. I would go so far as to say that if all Christians (myself included) fully grasped the truth of this one short passage, and lived accordingly, the Body of Christ would be in an entirely different state.
This simple analogy is telling us that the life Jesus intends for us is one of:
Absolute dependence – the branch is nothing unless connected. The vine does all the work – sends out roots to find nourishment & moisture, turns it into special sap. The branch just receives – continually, hourly, daily. It is utterly dependant on the vine. We too must consider ourselves “nothing” so that Christ can be everything.
Deep Restfulness – having no concern about any situation or difficulty, trusting that God will provide what we need, just as the vine provides what the branch needs in every season. The cares and concerns are His, not ours.
Much fruitfulness – fruit, more fruit, much fruit. There is much to be done, but only heavenly fruit will nourish those in need. Tragically, there’s not much of that type of fruit around because so few Christians are connected to the Vine. Busy, busy, busy but not connected, so the “fruit” is not heavenly fruit because the sap (HS) is not flowing into the branch.
Close Communion – the work of ‘remaining’ is the work of the heart, not the brain, and comes only through spending regular time alone with Jesus.
Absolute Surrender – “Lord, Your will be done, not mine”
Andrew Murray’s book ‘Absolute Surrender’ has a brilliant commentary on what branch-life should look like. If you are interested in unpacking this life-transforming concept further, I encourage you to dig into this book, or his shorter devotional called ‘The True Vine’.
“Oh! how many Christians look upon it as a burden and a tax, and a duty, and a difficulty to be often alone with God! That is the great hindrance to our Christian life everywhere. We need more quiet fellowship with God, and I tell you in the name of the heavenly Vine that you cannot be healthy branches, branches into which the heavenly sap can flow, unless you take plenty of time for communion with God. If you are not willing to sacrifice time to get alone with Him, and to give Him time every day to work in you, and to keep up the link of connection between you and Himself, He cannot give you that blessing of His unbroken fellowship.” (Murray).
Prayers from Chapter 15
Lord, thank you for giving us the possibility of branch-life. Forgive us for being all too-often satisfied with the mediocrity and inferiority of a self-driven life. May we focus more of our attention, energy and time on ‘remaining in You’, rather than on the myriad of other things that vie for our time and attention, so that our lives produce an on-going and abundant harvest of fruit that nourishes us and those you send us to. Amen.