Instructed to Abide
Jesus explained to the disciples that their ability to bear fruit depended on their proximity to him and his teaching. Using the metaphor of a vine and its branches, He instructed them to “Abide (Jo 15:4 (μείνατε – remain, stay) in Me, and I in you” (Jo 15:4). Just as abiding in the vine is crucial to the branches, so remaining in Christ is crucial to glorifying God through “bearing much fruit” (Jo 15:8). Abiding in Jesus requires abiding in his special kind of sacrificial love, and one who enjoys fellowship with Christ, keeps his commandments. (Jo 15:10). Jesus is not only concerned about results, he is concerned about them, because the two are inextricably intertwined. The obedience that naturally follows love will produce fruit and glorify the Father, and then, and only then, “your joy may be full,“ (Jo 15:11).
New Commandment Given
Jesus’ gave the disciples a new commandment as preparation for what He had in store for the church. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another, (Jo 13:34). Repeating it later, Jesus adds a new dimension to the relationship: “This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you,” (Jo 15:12 – 14). Not only was Jesus changing the relationship, he was setting a precedent that would (should) be the defining characteristic between all believers, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another,” (Jo 13:35).
Gifts of the Holy Spirit and Peace
Jesus promised he would petition the Father to send the Holy Spirit who would be given to the disciples and all believers, to empower them for ministry, “He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you, (Jo 14:16 -18, 26). Jesus also gave them His peace – that which would oppose trouble (ταράσσω – inward turmoil) and fear (δειλιάω – lack (of) courage) (14:27). This love, joy and peace are also connected – through the Holy Spirit, to Christ Himself and to the Father, (Jo 14:16-20). As the apostles preached and as scripture teaches, the fruit that we bear is the result of the Spirit: “when there is fruit, it isn’t even us bearing that fruit – it is Him doing it in us.”
Christ’s Promise and Warning
Jesus’ imperative to “Abide in me and I in you,” (Jo 15:4) came with implicit and explicit promises and warnings. Starting with the negative in verse six, Jesus likens the failure to abide with a useless branch that dries up, is thrown away, gathered and burned. At the very least this indicates a relationship that is no longer engaged in keeping His commandments, abiding in His love (15:10), producing fruit (16:5), or filled with joy (16:11). It implies that progress of His word in them will cease (Jo 8:37) and that slavery to sin is in the offing (Jo 8:34). Christ’s promise is the very opposite, that if one abide in Him, he “bears much fruit” (15:5), keeps His commandments, abides in His love and whose joy is full.