The Promise and Warning About Fruitful Living

Notes for January 26-27
John 15:1-17   

Biblical Background

  • “Abide”:  This word in the Greek is the verb form of “dwelling place.” In the Old Testament God promises to dwell with His people – the people who are obedient to the covenant (Ex. 25:8; Ezekiel 37:27-28)

  • Israel/Jesus’ Disciples as a Vineyard or Vine:  The imagery of God’s people as a vineyard or vine can be seen in the Old Testament (Hosea 10:1; Psalm 80:8).  The clear meaning of this picture is that Jesus’ disciples (the branches) are dependent for their strength, nourishment and life from Jesus (the Vine).

  • Dead Branches:  A good farmer or gardener removes the dead branches from the plants and burns them.  This is a graphic reminder that those who choose not to trust Jesus with their life will lose it. There is a punishment for turning away from God – eternal separation in hell.

  • Joy:  Joy comes from obeying and following God’s commandments as a response to God’s love for us.  The world tells us otherwise, but God’s ways bring true fulfillment and joy in life.

  • Greek and Roman Stories:  Greek and Roman literature viewed the act of dying for one’s friend as heroic and was the greatest act of friendship. An example is story in which Pythias offered to be killed in place of his friend Damon, or the story in which Achilles goes into battle to avenge the death of his best friend Patroclus.  These heroic friendship stories would have been known by many within the Hellenistic Jewish community.

  • Friendship in Roman times:  The Greeks and Romans valued friendship and emphasized an equality of standing and ability to share intimately with others. Loyalty was the primary attribute of friendship in this culture. Servants were not considered on the same level as a friend.

  • Friends of God:  In the Old Testament, Abraham and Moses were called, “friends of God,” attesting to their intimate relationship with God.

  • Jewish rabbis didn’t choose their disciples – Jesus did:  In 1st century Judaism, disciples would choose the rabbi that they wanted to follow.  In Jesus’ case, however, he chose his disciples – he took the initiative.

  • Chosen by God:  Judaism emphasized the idea that the Jewish people were the “chosen people,” those chosen by God to represent God to the world.

Discussion Questions

  1. In the analogy of the Vinedresser, the Vine and the Branches, identify who Jesus is talking about. Then take time to discuss the role of each person in this analogy?

  2. What does it mean for a disciple of Jesus to bear fruit? What does this look like?

  3. How do we abide in Jesus Christ?

  4. Why would God cut off those who do not abide in Jesus Christ?

  5. What warning is being given here to those who decide not to follow Christ? How is this message perceived in our culture today?

  6. How are you responding to this warning?

  7. What is the blessing that can come from abiding in Jesus?  What does this look like?

  8. What is Jesus’ commandment to his disciples?

  9. How did Jesus love his disciples? Give examples

  10. What can we learn from Jesus’ love for his disciples?

  11. How can you and I lay down our lives for our friends on a daily basis?

  12. What does it mean to you to be a friend of Jesus? How does this affect your everyday life?

  13. How does it make you feel to know that Jesus chose you rather than the other way around?

  14. Why would Jesus tell us to ask the Father for things?  How did Jesus model this?

  15. Share examples in which you have seen people lay down their lives for others as Christ commanded.