3 Words that will forever change the way you read the Gospel of John: Week 15

Contents

Chapter 15

Jesus_mary__Martha270707_01This is part 15 of a 21-part series which traces “seeing” and “hearing”, and looks at how they relate to “believing”, through the Gospel of John.

In chapter 15, Jesus continues teaching his disciples in preparation for the Crucifixion. He talks about two things: The “True Vine”, and the fact that the world will hate the disciples.

It’s not all about seeing and hearing, but where those themes do occur, they are very interesting.


REVIEWING THE TEXT – CHAPTER 15

The True Vine

In the early parts of the chapter, Jesus is talking all about “abiding”. He uses the vine as a metaphor to illustrate what he means by it. By how can you abide in him, and in what way does he abide in the believers?

Unsurprisingly (for us, who have been following the see/hear/believe theme all the way through the Gospel of John), it has to do with Jesus’ words:

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

– John 15:7

To underscore this emphasis on his own words and teachings, he goes on:

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

– John 15:10-11

… and so it goes on in much the same manner. The point is that Jesus’ teachings are from God. In other places in the Gospel of John, Jesus has denied that the Law given to Moses is really the “bread from heaven”, and instead presented his own teachings as “true bread from heaven”. Indeed, he himself is “the bread of life” (John 6:32-35, 48-49).

Jesus is, in this sense, inseparable from his teachings, which must be heard. Proper hearing and taking to heart is a kind of eating and digesting. Therefore his true disciple will have been “eating” Jesus himself:

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

“Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you.”

Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom [else] can we go? You have the words of eternal life…”

– John 6:51, 53, 68

The World will Hate you.

Jesus goes on to talk about how reviled the disciples will be. The interesting thing for us is how he goes about saying it:

For example:

Remember the word that I said to you, ‘Servants are not greater than their master.’ If they persecuted me, they will persecute you; if they kept my word, they will keep yours also.

– John 15:20-21

It’s all about the “word” (which in Greek means “message”).

In fact, Jesus goes on to say something very specific about his “word”:

If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin.

– John 15:22

So then,how does that compare to the assertion in Hebrews…?

Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow; it is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

– Hebrews 4:12


… and look at Jesus’ description of the role of the Holy Spirit in the world:

when he comes, he will prove the world wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment

– John 16:8

Let’s deal more with that in Chapter 16. It is sufficient to see the importance of Jesus’ message, his teaching, his “word” (in Greek this word is “logos”).

To top it off, not only have they heard, they also have seen Jesus, his miracles, and therefore the Father himself (see the previous chapter for an explanation has to how they could “see the Father”):

If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not have sin. But now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.

– John 15:24

 


Questions to Ponder from Chapter 15

What is the relationship between Jesus’ teachings, and those of the Holy Spirit?
If hearing and “digesting” his words is “abiding” in Jesus, what does it mean that he “abides” in us?
Should Jesus have written down his teachings?

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