Incongruous love

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John 15:19-21

Joh 15:19 If you were of the world, the world would care about you as its own. However, because you are not of the world, but I have selected you out of it, the world hates you.

Joh 15:20 Remember the word I spoke to you: ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.

Joh 15:21 But they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they don’t know the one who sent me.

Incongruous love

Should a Christian expect the approval and acclaim of the society in which she lives? She should not. It is incongruous that we, the slaves of Christ, should be treated more respectfully than our master did.

What Jesus is getting at here is the world to which he came – the world he loved – did not care for him. It hated him. It crucified him. So, when we experience an indifferent or hating world, we should not be surprised. What should surprise us is when we start experiencing an incongruous love. We should be very careful when that happens, as it may be a signal that we are not being faithful to him.

Lord, give us the wisdom to be skeptical of the world’s approval.

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Our two destinies

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John 15:16-18

Joh 15:16 You did not select me, but I selected you. I destined you to leave and produce fruit and that your fruit should stay, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.

Joh 15:17 “This is what I am commanding you: Love one another.

Joh 15:18 “If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you.

Our two destinies

Jesus has been conversing with his disciples about his future. He had warned them that he was about to leave and go back to his Father and that he would return. These are Jesus’ two destinies, Now, Jesus reveals two destinies for the disciples as well. They too will leave this life. They will die as well. But before they die, they will produce fruit, and that fruit will stay. In the larger context, that fruit includes other disciples. But in this present context, we can see that it also includes reciprocal love, perseverance through unjust suffering, and prevailing prayer.

Our time is short. We need to stay on task.

Lord, give us the courage to live out our destiny, to produce lasting fruit.

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What the gospel mission entails

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John 15:11-15

Joh 15:11 I have spoken these things to you so that my joy may be in you and your joy may reach its peak.

Joh 15:12 This is my command: Love one another just like I have loved you.

Joh 15:13 No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends.

Joh 15:14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

Joh 15:15 I do not call you slaves anymore, because a slave doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends because I have made you aware of everything I have heard from my Father.

What the gospel mission entails

He’s still our master, but he does not call us slaves anymore. The reason our title has changed is that he has made us aware of the gospel mission. Christ’s gospel mission was to lay down his life for us out of love. Our gospel mission is to love others with the same sacrificial love – to love just like he loved. It may not mean we actually get executed for someone. But it may.

Lord, give us the courage to embrace all that your gospel mission entails.

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Lettering in the red letters

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John 15:7-10

Joh 15:7 If you stay on me and my sayings stay in you, ask whatever you want and it will happen for you.

Joh 15:8 My Father is glorified by this: that you produce much fruit and show that you have become my disciples.

Joh 15:9 “Just like the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Stay in my love.

Joh 15:10 If you keep my commands you will stay in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and stay in his love.

Lettering in the red letters

Kim Erickson writes… “Not for His benefit … but for their joy! And not just some ordinary joy, but to be full of His joy, overflowing with divine joy.”1

Jesus’ commands are all about living life today to its fullest and tapping into the resources of the divine relationship. Obedience is the key. But it is not blind Pharisaical obedience. It is obedience not to some ritual or practice, but to the actual commands of Christ. We need to letter in the red letters.

Lord, help us to live and breathe your commands.

1 His Last Words: What Jesus Taught and Prayed in His Final Hours (John 13-17)

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The consequences of separation

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John 15:4-6

Joh 15:4 Stay on me, and I in you. Just as a shoot is unable to produce fruit by itself unless it remains on the vine, neither can you unless you stay on me.

Joh 15:5 I am the vine; you are the shoots. The one who stays on me and I in him produces much fruit because you can do nothing without me.

Joh 15:6 If anyone does not stay on me, he is thrown out like that detached shoot and he dries up. They gather them, throw them into the fire, and they are burned up.

The consequences of separation

I have to be a bit inconsistent with the preposition ἐν here, because Jesus is talking about a reciprocal relationship, but still keeping up the vine/shoot metaphor. So, “on” is appropriate, because shoots can only produce grapes if they stay on the vine. This is an example of what Danker alludes to “with numerous other resources in Engl. to express contextual nuances of ἐν: at, on, among, near, with, by.”

Jesus also refers to final punishment in Gehenna here by saying that detached shoots are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned up (καίω). While the word can refer to the mere lighting or kindling of a fire, in this reference it is to a consuming fire which ultimately produces the second death (Revelation 21:8).

Some people have convinced themselves that final punishment merely means being thrown out – separated from the presence of God forever. Jesus shows here that as a consequence of this separation, the lost will also be gathered up, thrown into the fire, and burned up. Hell is a terrible place, but the only way to escape it is to stay on the vine – stay in Jesus.

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his pruning method

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his pruning method

Joh 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vineyard keeper.

Joh 15:2 He removes every shoot on me that does not produce fruit, and he prunes each that produces fruit so that it will produce more fruit.

Joh 15:3 You are already pruned because of the word I have spoken to you.

The shoots from a grapevine that are about a year old are called canes. Here’s some professional information about canes and their pruning:

In viticulture it is important for wine grape growers to properly manage new canes as they play a vital role in the growth and development of the wine vine and the wine grape yield. Trimming or choosing canes will determine how the vine trains and grows in the vineyard. Not all shoots will develop into canes, growers monitor the growth of shoots from the time they are buds to determine which ones they will allow to grow. Canes that are thicker, or growing closer to the trunk and that are widely spaced, are often chosen as the best fruiting wood, while canes that are thinner and spaced closer together are not chosen, as thin canes can break and clusters that are too close hold moisture and increase the chance of disease. Cane management during the growing season is vital to the grape harvest, as shoots and canes that are not actively growing grapes compete with the grapes and the vine for resources. Canes are cut back after harvest, to promote new growth for the next growing cycle.1

 

The good news for me in today’s text is in verse 3. I need not fear some adversity coming into my life to prune me to make me more fruitful. The word of God itself does the pruning. Those who choose to follow the commands of Jesus are those who make the cut.

 

Lord, thank you for your commands – your pruning method.

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High noon

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John 14:28-31

Joh 14:28 You have heard me saying to you, ‘I am going away and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would celebrate the fact that I am going to the Father, because the Father is more significant than I.

Joh 14:29 I have said it to you now before it happens so that when it does happen you may continue to trust.

Joh 14:30 I will not talk with you much longer, because the ruler of the world is coming. He has nothing to do with me.

Joh 14:31 On the contrary, so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do as the Father commanded me. “Get up; let’s leave here.

High noon

In the classic western, the clock seems to go ever so slowly in the minutes before the showdown between the hero and the villain. High noon is coming.

Jesus compares his Father with the ruler of the world— Satan. The contest is between those two, and the winner is the one to whom Jesus remains loyal. That is why Jesus says that Satan – the usurping ruler of the world – has nothing to do with him. Jesus has made his choice. Have you?

Lord, our loyalty pledge is to you, and our heavenly Father. The usurper has nothing to do with us.

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Peace gift

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John 14:25-27

Joh 14:25 “I have spoken these things to you while I am staying with you.

Joh 14:26 But the Discipler, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have said to you.

Joh 14:27 “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you like the world gives. Don’t let your heart be agitated or intimidated.

Peace gift

The peace that Jesus gave his disciples while he was among them was the kind of peace that could withstand diversity because they had confidence in him to overcome it. But Jesus knew that under the discipling influence of the invisible discipler – the Holy Spirit – they would be tempted to anxiety and cowardice. So, he warned them of that possibility.

Jesus has given us his Holy Spirit. He will not take that gift back when we need it most. God’s presence and power will be with us when we face the challenges of living for him.

Lord, thank you for the peace gift.

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About those mansions

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John 14:22-24

Joh 14:22 Judas (not Iscariot) says to him, “Lord, what also has happened that you’re going to reveal yourself to us and not to the world? ”

Joh 14:23 Jesus answered, and said to him “If someone loves me, he will keep my word. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make a room to stay near him.

Joh 14:24 “The one who doesn’t love me will not keep my words. The word that you hear is not mine but is my sender Father’s.

About those mansions

Judas’ question was specific. He wanted to know what had happened (γίνομαι) that resulted in the Father and Son revealing themselves only to them (the disciples) and not the world. He and the others had expected that they were on the verge of the eschaton – the final culmination of God’s plan.

Jesus’ answer revealed that the eschaton was not about to happen. Instead, the age of gospel proclamation was to intervene. During this age, the father and Son will come spiritually and make a room to stay near those who love Christ, and keep his his word. Notice that Jesus uses the same word (μονή) that he had used in verse 2. This does not mean he is talking about the same event. Verse 2 referred to our permanent residence with God after the return of Christ. Verse 23 referred to God’s permanent residence with us today, through his Holy Spirit.

The bad news is that we are not going to live with God in glorious mansions when we die. The good news is that he can come to live with us while we are still alive.

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a second promise

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John 14:18-21

Joh 14:18 “I will not abandon you as orphans; I am coming to you.

Joh 14:19 Still, in a little while also, the world will no longer experience me, but you will experience me. Because I am living, you will be living too.

Joh 14:20 On that day you will come to know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you.

Joh 14:21 The possessor of my commands and keeper of them is the lover of me. And the lover of me will be loved by my Father. I also will love him and will reveal myself to him.”

a second promise

Jesus has two major events in mind here, not just one. When he says “I am coming to you” (ἔρχομαι πρὸς ὑμᾶς), he was referring back to his previous promise as recorded in verse 3, I will come again (πάλιν ἔρχομαι) and take you to myself.” He wants to make it clear that the promise of his literal coming will not be replaced with some kind of spiritual presence.

But there will be a spiritual presence, and that will take place “Still, in a little while” (ἔτι μικρὸν). From verse 19 on, Jesus is elaborating on his promise to send the other discipler, the Holy Spirit. The καὶ is more significant in verse 19a than other translators indicate. It should be translated “also” because it shows that Jesus is talking about a second promise. It is the promise to not leave his disciples as orphans (ὀρφανούς). That term was used metaphorically of disciples who had lost their rabbi. The other discipler fulfilled that promise.

Lord, thank you for the promise of your coming, and the promise of your Holy Spirit, who is with us now.

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