Christ the true Vine. (1-8) His love to his disciples. (9-17) foretold. (18-25) The Comforter promised. (26,27)
Verses 1-8 Jesus Christ is the Vine, the true Vine. The union of the human and Divine natures, and the fulness of the Spirit that is in him, resemble the root of the vine made fruitful by the moisture from a rich soil. Believers are branches of this Vine. The root is unseen, and our life is hid with Christ; the root bears the tree, diffuses sap to it, and in Christ are all supports and supplies. The branches of the vine are many, yet, meeting in the root, are all but one vine; thus all true Christians, though in place and opinion distant from each other, meet in Christ. Believers, like the branches of the vine, are weak, and unable to stand but as they are borne up. The Father is the Husbandman. Never was any husbandman so wise, so watchful, about his vineyard, as God is about his church, which therefore must prosper. We must be fruitful. From a vine we look for grapes, and from a Christian we look for a Christian temper, disposition, and life. We must honour God, and do good; this is bearing fruit. The unfruitful are taken away. And even fruitful branches need pruning; for the best have notions, passions, and humours, that require to be taken away, which Christ has promised to forward the sanctification of believers, they will be thankful, for them. The word of Christ is spoken to all believers; and there is a cleansing virtue in that word, as it works grace, and works out corruption. And the more fruit we bring forth, the more we abound in what is good, the more our Lord is glorified. In order to fruitfulness, we must abide in Christ, must have union with him by faith. It is the great concern of all Christ's disciples, constantly to keep up dependence upon Christ, and communion with him. True Christians find by experience, that any interruption in the exercise of their faith, causes holy affections to decline, their corruptions to revive, and their comforts to droop. Those who abide not in Christ, though they may flourish for awhile in outward profession, yet come to nothing. The fire is the fittest place for withered branches; they are good for nothing else. Let us seek to live more simply on the fulness of Christ, and to grow more fruitful in every good word and work, so may our joy in Him and in his salvation be full.
Verses 9-17 Those whom God loves as a Father, may despise the hatred of all the world. As the Father loved Christ, who was most worthy, so he loved his disciples, who were unworthy. All that love the Saviour should continue in their love to him, and take all occasions to show it. The joy of the hypocrite is but for a moment, but the joy of those who abide in Christ's love is a continual feast. They are to show their love to him by keeping his commandments. If the same power that first shed abroad the love of Christ's in our hearts, did not keep us in that love, we should not long abide in it. Christ's love to us should direct us to love each other. He speaks as about to give many things in charge, yet names this only; it includes many duties.
Verses 18-25 How little do many persons think, that in opposing the doctrine of Christ as our Prophet, Priest, and King, they prove themselves ignorant of the one living and true God, whom they profess to worship! The name into which Christ's disciples were baptized, is that which they will live and die by. It is a comfort to the greatest sufferers, if they suffer for Christ's name's sake. The world's ignorance is the true cause of its hatred to the disciples of Jesus. The clearer and fuller the discoveries of the grace and truth of Christ, the greater is our sin if we do not love him and believe in him.
26,27. The blessed Spirit will maintain the cause of Christ in the world, notwithstanding the opposition it meets with. Believers taught and encouraged by his influences, would bear testimony to Christ and his salvation.
John 15:1-27 . DISCOURSE AT THE SUPPER TABLE CONTINUED.
1-8. The spiritual oneness of Christ and His people, and His relation to them as the Source of all their spiritual life and fruitfulness, are here beautifully set forth by a figure familiar to Jewish ears ( Isaiah 5:1 , &c.).
I am the true vine--of whom the vine of nature is but a shadow.
my Father is the husbandman--the great Proprietor of the vineyard, the Lord of the spiritual kingdom. (It is surely unnecessary to point out the claim to supreme divinity involved in this).
2. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit . . . every branch that beareth fruit--As in a fruit tree, some branches may be fruitful, others quite barren, according as there is a vital connection between the branch and the stock, or no vital connection; so the disciples of Christ may be spiritually fruitful or the reverse, according as they are vitally and spiritually connected with Christ, or but externally and mechanically attached to Him. The fruitless He "taketh away" "purgeth" (cleanseth, pruneth)--stripping it, as the husbandman does, of what is rank ( Mark 4:19 ), "that it may bring forth more fruit"; a process often painful, but no less needful and beneficial than in the natural husbandry.
3. Now--rather, "Already."
ye are clean through--by reason of.
the word I have spoken to you--already in a purified, fruitful condition, in consequence of the long action upon them of that searching "word" which was "as a refiner's fire" ( Malachi 3:2 Malachi 3:3 ).
4. Abide in me, and I in you; as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine, &c.--As all spiritual fruitfulness had been ascribed to the mutual inhabitation, and living, active interpenetration (so to speak) of Christ and His disciples, so here the keeping up of this vital connection is made essential to continued fruitfulness.
5. without me--apart, or vitally disconnected from Me.
ye can do nothing--spiritually, acceptably.
6. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch . . . withered . . . cast into the fire . . . burned--The one proper use of the vine is to bear fruit; failing this, it is good for one other thing--fuel. (See Ezekiel 15:1-5 ). How awfully striking the figure, in this view of it!
7. If ye abide in me, and my words . . . in you--Mark the change from the inhabitation of Himself to that of His words, paving the way for the subsequent exhortations ( John 15:9 John 15:10 ).
ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you--because this indwelling of His words in them would secure the harmony of their askings with the divine will.
8. glorified that ye bear much fruit--not only from His delight in it for its own sake, but as from "the juices of the Living Vine."
so shall ye be my disciples--evidence your discipleship.
9-11. continue ye in my love--not, "Continue to love Me," but, "Continue in the possession and enjoyment of My love to you"; as is evident from the next words.
10. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love--the obedient spirit of true discipleship cherishing and attracting the continuance and increase of Christ's love; and this, He adds, was the secret even of His own abiding in His Father's love!
12-16. That ye love one another,
13. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends--The emphasis lies not on "friends," but on "laying down his life" for them; that is, "One can show no greater regard for those dear to him than to give his life for them, and this is the love ye shall find in Me."
14. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you--hold yourselves in absolute subjection to Me.
15. Henceforth I call you not servants--that is, in the sense explained in the next words; for servants He still calls them ( John 15:20 ), and they delight to call themselves so, in the sense of being "under law to Christ" ( 1 Corinthians 9:20 ).
the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth--knows nothing of his master's plans and reasons, but simply receives and executes his orders.
but . . . friends, for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you--admitted you to free, unrestrained fellowship, keeping back nothing from you which I have received to communicate. (Compare Genesis 18:17 , Psalms 25:14 , Isaiah 50:4 ).
16. Ye have not chosen me, but I . . . you--a wholesale memento after the lofty things He had just said about their mutual indwelling, and the unreservedness of the friendship they had been admitted to.
you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit--that is, give yourselves to it.
and that your fruit should remain--showing itself to be an imperishable and ever growing principle. (Compare Proverbs 4:18 , 2 John 1:8 ).
that whatsoever ye shall ask,
17-21. The substance of these important verses has occurred more than once before. Luke 12:49-53 , &c.). If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin
none; all other sins being light compared with the rejection of the Son of God. now they have no cloak for their sin
24. If I had not done . . . the works which none other . . .
25. that the word might be fulfilled . . . They hated me without a cause--quoted from the Messianic Psalms 69:4 , applied also in the same sense in John 2:17 , Acts 1:20 , Romans 11:9 Romans 11:10 , 15:3 .
27. ye also shall bear witness--rather, "are witnesses"; with reference indeed to their future witness-bearing, but putting the emphasis upon their present ample opportunities for acquiring their qualifications for that great office, inasmuch as they had been "with Him from the beginning."