We pick up today one verse ahead of where we ended last week, when Jesus described God as a gardener, himself a vine, and us as the branches….the entire image was based in bearing fruit and the necessary tasks the gardener takes in order to have the best fruit possible. One of the major fruits God hopes for is love, and that is the topic today...
John 15:9-17 Common English Bible (CEB)
9 “As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. 12 This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you.
13 No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I don’t call you servants any longer, because servants don’t know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because everything I heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit and so that your fruit could last. As a result, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you.
17 I give you these commandments so that you can love each other.
Three Points of Discussion
Quote #1 - Love in this sense is a theological virtue: an excellence of character that God has by nature and in which we participate by grace. Such love is primarily interested in the good of the other person, rather than one’s own. It does not attempt to possess or dominate the other. Nor is it limited by the scarcities that are imposed by time and place: one can have a few good friends and fewer lovers, but one can have agapē for all. DAVID S. CUNNINGHAM David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Locations 17372-17375). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Quote #2 - Abiding and bearing fruit. From Jesus’ words in verses 9–10 of “abiding” in his love, and of “bearing fruit” in verse 16, it is clear that he is continuing the metaphor of the vine and the branches found in the opening verses of chapter 15. The fruit bearing may consist of the disciples’ reciprocal love for one another (the link of bearing fruit and loving one another in vv. 16–17 suggests this), or the fruit bearing may refer to the making of new disciples (who would likely constitute the readership of John’s Gospel) GEORGE W. RAMSEY David L. Bartlett and Barbara Brown Taylor. Feasting on the Word: Year B, Volume 2: Lent through Eastertide (Feasting on the Word: Year B volume) (Kindle Location 17499). Presbyterian Publishing Corporation. Kindle Edition.
Quote #3 - “We preachers would do well to recall that the Greek words for “grace” and “joy” share the same root. Joy may very well be a feeling of grace, the emotion of grace, even the response to grace. Joy is that indescribable sense when you find yourself experiencing abundant grace.” - Karoline Lewis
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