As we come to the end of John 15, a few verses pop out at me as an important word for us.
“If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. Whoever hates me hates my Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.”
In this passage, Jesus is speaking of the world and more specifically the Pharisees who persecuted and hated Him despite the signs and wonders He had done among them. They were the descendants of Abraham, the treasurers of God’s promises, the academic elite, and the ones to whom the entire nation of Israel looked to for spiritual knowledge and guidance. The Pharisees knew all the promises about the coming Messiah, but when they finally saw Him they rejected Him and refused to believe that Jesus was the One. Amazing right?!
Have you ever been on a walk in the woods and found a fruit-bearing apple tree in the midst of the wild, overgrown forest? It’s such an unexpected blessing, a thing of beauty in the midst of an untamed wilderness and the only thing bearing life-giving fruit. So also, we, as fruitful branches abiding in the Vine, are like rare apple trees living amidst a forest of evergreens, hardwoods, or conifers. And just like the wild forest slowly tries to overgrow the lone fruit-bearing tree, so also the depraved and perverted world we live in slowly tries to squeeze us until we break. However, in John 15, Jesus told His disciples—which includes us!—to expect this.
What is one of the first things you think of when you hear the word joy? Do you picture the sheer excitement of a child on Christmas morning or the radiant smile of a bride on her wedding day? Well, this week we’re going to take a closer look at the meaning of joy, where to find it, and the many positive benefits of possessing it.
After laying out the sobering reality of what happens to the branches that bear fruit and those which do not, Jesus gives the reason why He was telling the Twelve these things:
“These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
The image of the grape vine is a vivid example of how our relationship with Christ ought to be. It consists of a main vine that extends out to many, many branches pruned by an expert gardener to spread far and wide and bear much fruit. Have you ever seen a vineyard of well-maintained grape vines? It is pristine and beautiful to behold, with endless, perfectly straight rows of greenery stretching to the horizon. If you’ve ever visited or passed through Napa County California you’ve seen what I’m trying to describe.