Written by Phil Perez
Monday: The Vine
Read John 15:1, Psalm 80:8-12, Hosea 10:1-2, Isaiah 5.1-7
The vine is a common metaphor for Israel in the Old Testament. The striking change of the vine in John 15 is that it no longer represents Israel and instead represents Jesus. Previously one’s status with God depended on the identity with Israel, going forward it will be those who are found abiding in Jesus.
By adding the emphasis “true” vine Jesus implies a warning to not accept any other vine as a substitute. Thinking through the implications of Jesus substituting himself as the true vine and staying away from vines that are not the true vine, what might that mean for us today?
Tuesday: Bearing fruit
Read John 15.2-8, Jeremiah 2.21
The gardener tending the vineyard cuts off some branches and prunes others, all for the health of the branches. These actions are required in order to bear even more fruit on the branch. Bearing fruit can mean different things in the Christian life. But the main question to ask: is there evidence of abiding in the vine in my life?
In Jeremiah 2 God refers to Israel as planted as a choice vine, of sound and reliable stock, but they turned into a “Wild” vine needing pruning and cutting. This can happen in our personal lives as well as in our faith communities. The key to bearing fruit is learning what it means to remain in the vine. A Christmas tree looks beautiful, but all the ornaments and garland are placed there. It is what trying to bear fruit without remaining in the vine may look like. A fruit tree, however, produces fruit year after year because it remains in the tree. This metaphor helps us to realize the futility of trying to produce fruit without remaining in the vine.
Wednesday: Bearing Fruit (part 2)
Read John 15.9-13, John 10.11
Bearing fruit is defined in this chapter as acts of sacrifice and love. It serves to interpret the metaphor that Jesus gave in the previous passages. Jesus has set them an example of this and is soon to go even further by laying down his life in the full. However we may want to define bearing fruit it will look like this every time. The talk of laying down one’s life for others was not just hyperbole or idle talk. This was a time in the church when there could be a real chance you would be called to lay your life down.
Jesus is the good shepherd who lays his life down for the flock. We can take good time to reflect on how we are doing in the area of acts of sacrifice and love on behalf of others.
John 15.15-17, 3 John 1.15
Jesus says the disciples are not servants, but rather friends because he has made known to them what the Father is doing. The title “friends” was important to the John community. The ideal of friendship meant that the disciples would bear fruit by how they sacrifice for one another.
Think of the ways that we are called to sacrifice for each other in our faith communities. Take time this week to engage in a sacrificial act on behalf of a brother or sister. Pray for God to make clear who and how you need to serve within the faith community.
Friday: The World loves its own
John 15.18-25, Matthew 10.24
This is very connected to the command to love one another. The world loves its own. The disciples should love their own as well. When you experience the hostility of the world firsthand you realize just how opposed the world is to God. Jesus was persecuted and so the disciples can expect to be persecuted as well. Matthew 10.24 may come to mind as we read this passage. The continuing work of the church will expose even more the world’s hostility towards Jesus. In what ways have you experienced the hostility of the world towards God?
John 15.22,24 are difficult passages. It would be perverse to say that sin is the consequence of revelation. These verses go hand in hand with John’s understanding of sin. To reject Jesus is the ultimate definition of sin, so by his coming it exposes their rejection.
Saturday: The Role of the Spirit
Read John 15.26-27, Matthew 28.18-20
The community is assured that although they will be persecuted, Jesus will send an advocate who will bear witness to him and enable them to bear witness also. The Greek term for bearing witness is “Martyrein” which means to bear witness with one’s life. It’s also where we get our word for Martyrdom. The role of the Spirit is to help us bear witness with our lives.
The command to the apostles to testify is similar to the great commission in Matthew 28. The importance of testifying about Jesus is a command that is repeated throughout the New Testament and yet in John the command to bear witness and testify is always connected to telling people about Jesus, rather than making disciples, or being a fisher of men. In what way do you testify about Jesus to those around you? If you have not done so in a while, pray for an opportunity to testify about Jesus to someone new.