In case you didn't know, John 15 is where we find the speech Jesus makes about being the vine and God being the true gardener. I'm one of those people that knows the stories of the bible and I know roughly where to find them (Joseph is in Genesis) but when it comes to the new testament I flounder a bit. I know what the bible says, just not where it says it. That is why this study in John has helped me so much! I can associate great teachings with the chapter to find them in. I think this is a big step. It's neat that in my prayers I can now pray actual verses instead of floundering through and making references to stories.
In this reference to vines and branches Jesus wasn't talking about an actual tree. He was talking about his followers. Even the branches that bear fruit will be pruned so as to be more fruitful. Do you know what pruning is? It's cutting parts of a tree off with a sharp implement. I'm not a tree, but I'd have to imagine that having pieces of me cut away would be quite painful. I think that's the point. In the book of Job, Job suffers. A lot. Why? Because he's seen as a righteous man. It's easy to be righteous when everything is going well for you, argues Satan. As a result many, many trials and tribulations happen to Job. I'm not going to spoil it for you, you'll have to read it yourself. I do know that the end result of pruning is that the plant bears more fruit. That means that during trials we turn to God and continue to glorify Him even when things aren't going great for us. It can be hard yet this is done so that we can become more fruitful. We may not know why something is happening for a long time. I have faith that God will use my situations to bring glory to Him and that's all that matters to me.
One of the verses that grabbed my attention was verse thirteen. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. Jesus knew what was going to happen. He knew that the sentiment he had just shared was going to be carried out by him. That he was going to die for his friends. How many of us, knowing something like this in advance, would be willing to go through with it? I mean, lets face it. Sometimes our friends, well, they don't turn out to be our friends. How many of us have felt the sting of Judas' in our lives? Yet Jesus is willing to go to his death, even for Judas. For people he had never met, but knew the number of hairs on their head.
I know that I have a pretty checkered past. I did some really stupid things in the era of irresponsibility. Sure, I loved it then. Not now though. That's why I volunteer my Thursday evenings to work with the teenagers of my church. I don't want them to make the same decisions I made. I want to help them anyway I can to steer them away from the path I went down and stay true to themselves and to God. Yet even before all of my past Jesus hung on that cross for me. Knowing what choices I would make. Staying in spite of my shortcomings. That is greater love.
Jesus loves us and he appoints us. He wants us to go and share his story. How? By sharing our story. You don't have to know the bible, you just have to know yourself. Jesus came to teach us. To show us the way to interact with each other and the world. He didn't come because we already knew. People will wear you down arguing the bible with you but they can't argue your experience. They can't say you didn't go through something or that your story is fake. Especially if they knew you before you started to follow Jesus. The changes in you will speak more than your words. Set an example with how Jesus changed your life. Jesus finishes in John 15 by talking about how the world hates him. They have seen and yet they have hated both me and my Father (v. 24). I want to live a life that people wonder what's wrong with me. Yesterday I talked about forgiving a man who sexually abused me. Who does that!? A person who wants to walk closer with Jesus and become more like Him. That's who.
Is this something you strive for? What did you take away from John 15?
You know the saying, the grass is always greener on the other side? This is my attempt to find greener grass right where I am in my life.
BTW - I'm the one on the right, just in case you didn't already know that.