Jesus, The True Vine
Passage: John 15:1–15:8
“I Am the True Vine”
BIG PICTURE: In John 15, Jesus contrasts genuine believers (fruitful branches that remain in the vine) with phony believers (fruitless branches that do not remain in the vine). *
“Remain in me, as I also remain in you” MEANS “Obey my words, and let my words remain in you.”
This means Jesus abides in believers to the degree that his words abide in us, and believers abide in Jesus to the degree that we obey his words. Every believer abides in Jesus to some degree, resulting in different degrees of fruitfulness. Failing to abide results in eternal damnation.
Point # 1: Explaining Jesus’ metaphor for abiding (1-3)
Point # 2: Jesus’ command to abide (4a).
This command has at least three implications.
a. Believers are already vitally connected to Jesus.
b. Believers must maintain their vital connection to Jesus; it is a non-optional responsibility.
c. Believers are equally required and responsible for Jesus to abide in them.
Commands such as this are a God-ordained means for the believer’s perseverance.
Point # 3: Jesus’ reasons for abiding (4b–6).
a. “Fruitfulness” is impossible apart from abiding in Jesus
b. Abiding results in fruitfulness
c. Failing to abide results in eternal damnation
Point # 4: Jesus’ explanation of abiding (7–8.)
a. Jesus explains what it means for him to abide in believers: Jesus abides in believers when his specific utterances (“my words”) abide in believers.
b. Jesus explains the result of his abiding in believers: When believers internalize Jesus’ specific utterances, they will make scripturally informed prayer requests, and God will answer them. The fruit in this context (what a believer produces in this passage) is the answers to those prayers (15:8). Bearing much fruit in this way glorifies God the Father and evidences that someone is Jesus’ disciple.
c. Jesus explains what it means for believers to abide in him: Jesus abides in believers when his words abide in them, and believers abide in Jesus when they obey his words. Abiding in Jesus is obeying Jesus.
* My understanding of this passage (and much of what I say the sermon itself) owes a great deal to Andrew Naselli’s excellent book, Let Go and Let God? A Survey and Analysis of Keswick Theology. The above outline (with some modification) is his.