Gracefully Truthful

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

John 15:9-17

9 “As the Father has loved me, I have also loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.11 “I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 12 “This is my command: Love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this: to lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.

15 I do not call you servants anymore, because a servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. 17 “This is what I command you: Love one another.

The Original Intent

1) What does it mean to remain in God’s love? Why is this important? (verse 9)

Jesus is the one speaking these words, which is important because this idea was relatively new for His first audience. It was common practice for the people to add in extra gods from the cultures around them to their array of who they worshipped. The pull of Greek culture was strong around them.

Jesus was basically telling them; stick with Me. There is One True God and I am He, you’ve got to stay here, on this path with Me. If we back up a few verses and read the beginning of the chapter (John 15:1-8), we can see that Jesus was trying to explain this concept of remaining to His followers by giving them an everyday example. They needed to learn to follow only Jesus and obey His commands.

Jewish history is chock-full of disobedience, going after other gods, and following the ways of culture as well as blatantly disregarding God’s law and commands. They could not continue to add in gods or share their worship with false deities. This was such a new concept for them, and one that had not been fully played out, since Jesus had not yet been crucified.

His listeners had grown up being taught the law and how to obey it, but their familiar script was about to be flipped. Jesus was explaining the idea that His love, and staying with Him, was the only way to access eternity.

Not following the Law (because it was impossible to perfectly keep it), not doing the right things, but simply following Jesus. It was an entirely new way of thinking and living.

The Everyday Application

1) What does it mean to remain in God’s love? Why is this important? (verse 9)

According to the original Greek, remain is defined as “to stay and be kept, to not become other or different, continuing to be present”. This definition is helpful when we are thinking through what it means to remain in God’s love. It reminds us to stop looking at other people or things to provide what only God can give.

We are to be “actively present” with God and His love, not becoming distracted by so many other voices and temptations. God’s love is the best there is! I love that the definition includes “to stay and be kept”.

In a world where many, if not most, are leaving, looking, and trying to find that next exciting thing, we are warned, “don’t follow them!”. Stay behind and “be kept” with Jesus. This is important!

We are not unlike the original readers of this text in that we try to add in, or begin to believe, we need Jesus and (fill in the blank). When we are disconnected (John 15:1-8) from Jesus, trying to walk on our own and go our own way, we become lifeless and unusable for God’s kingdom work.

Actively remaining with Jesus is difficult when so many other things compete for our attention! It requires a daily surrender and humble choice “to stay and be kept” with Jesus.

The Original Intent

2) What does it mean to be a friend of God? (verses 13-15)

To answer this question, we need to be reminded of the newness of this concept for Jesus’ listeners. Up to this point, they had relied on prophets, teachers (Rabbi’s) and religious leaders to guide and direct their entire lives. God was Holy and only certain men, the priests, were allowed access to God. (2 Chronicles 24:19)

Now, Jesus is saying they could be God’s friend. Their minds must have been blown! This would mean they could now have direct access to God. They no longer would need someone else to seek God for them, they could do it themselves.

More so, God Himself would dwell within them when Jesus ascended back to Heaven and sent the Holy Spirit to live inside every believing heart. As a friends, they would be “insiders” so to speak, not slaves or servants, but a friend.

Friends have access, they come with perks and privileges. They had the freedom to choose! Would they follow Him and truly become His friends, or would they choose to follow self and try to keep living up to the Law’s impossible standard?

Jesus was setting the stage, and His disciples didn’t fully understand all that was yet to come. Soon, Jesus would give His life as a perfect demonstration of “laying down one’s life for a friend”.

The Everyday Application

2) What does it mean to be a friend of God? (verses 13-15)

Just as it was for Jesus’ disciples, we too, are insiders if we surrender ourselves to the One who surrendered Himself for us. God is no longer far off, He is accessible and near!

Think about your closest friends for a minute. The people you call or text pretty much every day. The ones you share your life with, the good and the bad parts. The ones you look forward to hanging out with and being around. The ones who challenge you and tell you the truth, even when it hurts. That 2am friend who you know will come through when you need them the most. Jesus is saying we are His friends! I mean, how cool is that?! 

As amazing as our human friends are, Jesus is even better. We have full and complete access to Him every single second of every single day, no matter where we are. If you have invited Jesus to be your Savior, then you have His Spirit living inside of you. He will never leave or abandon!

Unlike Jesus’ original audience, we know the second half of the story. Jesus did in fact lay His life down for His friends (that includes you and me). 

Is there any better friend than Jesus?!

The Original Intent

3) What does verse 16 mean?

The short answer is men and women are chosen by God for a reason and a purpose. While we might look back and think we chose Jesus on our own, the truth of this verse proclaims that He lovingly chose us first. 

Our salvation, our purpose, and our being adopted as His own begins and ends with Jesus Christ and doesn’t depend on our ability to follow the Law or love God first and most. The disciple John later wrote very simply, “We love because He first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

When he wrote this, John had experienced the ‘rest of the story’ because he had witnessed Jesus “laying down His life for His friends”, then rising again to conquer sin and death forever. With these words, Jesus was comforting His disciples, reminding them again that His choice of them didn’t depend on their ability to perform, but solely upon His vast love for them.

Through Him, and His friendship love, He was giving them access to know Him, love Him, and love others. Along with this access, came the privilege of prayer.  As long as their prayers were in line with His purposes, which they would know as they spent more time in relationship with Him, their prayers would be lovingly answered.

Jesus had selected these men and women to carry His message of love and access to more people. Remember, He had just called them friends, His chosen followers, with whom He had lavished His love, His purpose, and access to His Father. In a way, Jesus is giving them a sneak peek at their assignment “go and produce fruit”, meaning go and make more disciples. And don’t worry about the details because “whatever you ask in my Father’s name, He will give you”. 

John 14:13 and John 16:23 confirm God’s provision in leading others to Jesus. God didn’t need these men and women, but He chose them to share in the joy of bringing to others what they had been given, Jesus!

The Everyday Application

3) What does verse 16 mean?

The idea of being chosen by God is a difficult one to fully grasp. We can easily start thinking that we initiated the relationship. While we were not chosen in the same way as Jesus’ original disciples, we are in fact chosen. No one comes to Jesus on their own accord, but through Jesus as He lovingly invites them by His Spirit. 

Matthew 22:14John 15:19 and  Colossians 3:12 are just a few places where this idea is confirmed. Our assignment today is exactly the same as it was for the first disciples, “go and produce fruit”, meaning go and make more disciples and living out the same manner of extravagant, sacrificial love Jesus exemplified to us in our everyday lives.

Just like with Jesus’ first disciples, we are also invited to leave our worry behind and walk in fullness of relationship with Him, connecting with Him through prayer and confidently knowing that “whatever you ask in my Father’s name, He will give you”. God doesn’t need us anymore than He needed His disciples, but like them we have been invited to go along with Him and to share in the joy of bringing others to Jesus.

Yes, this is hard work and can get discouraging and frustrating at times, but it is so worth it because experience tells me there really is nothing quite as sweet as seeing the one you have prayed for, talked with, maybe even cried with, meet Jesus!

Remaining with Jesus and walking with Him in obedience is hard, but it is oh so rich! I simply don’t have the words to express the fullness of walking with Jesus, because amazing doesn’t even come close!

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