BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday April 6, 2014
STAY OPEN AND OBEDIENT
(Growing in the faith)
Throughout the Old Testament, the analogy of the “vineyard” is used as a depiction of GOD’s beloved Israel. However, this term is never used apart from the idea of degeneration. The descriptions by Isaiah (Isaiah 5:1-7), Jeremiah (Jeremiah 2:21-22), Ezekiel (Ezekiel 15 & 19:10-14), Hosea (Hosea 10:1), and King David (Psalm 80:8-13) all stress the point of degeneration, or, a moral decline of GOD’s chosen people (the church).
In John 15:1-16:4, the author of GOD writes of JESUS’ instructions to HIS Disciples, that they should be “rightly related” to HIM, to each other as Christians (15:11-17), and, to the World of Unbelievers (15:18-16:4).
Christians are to have three respective duties. They are to;
· Abide in JESUS (Vs.1-10)
· Love each other (Vs.11-17)
· Witness and testify to the World (Vs.18-16:4)
“I am the True Vine” is the last of the seven, now famous, “I am” statements of our LORD and SAVIOR, JESUS CHRIST that are found in the Gospel according to Saint John. The scene in this particular passage, takes place on the eve of JESUS’ trials and subsequent Crucifixion, by Roman method. Here JESUS seeks to relate and demonstrate to HIS Disciples, and to us, just what GOD THE FATHER, and HE HIMSELF, expects from HIS followers as Christians living in the world.
JESUS, as the “True Vine”, fulfills that which GOD had intended for the Israelites and the world in general. GOD is the Cultivator and Protector of all of life, human and otherwise, and HE desires good fruit, from each of us. In fact, we see JESUS stressing that point in 15:2-16, no less than eight times. The fruit, which GOD expects from the human side of HIS creation, is obedience, righteousness, and justice.
JESUS tells us that every branch, or person in this case, that does not produce good fruit will be cut off from HIS vine. Here we see that, every person (branch), who professes to be a follower of CHRIST, is not necessarily a “true follower”, or “a producing branch” of “THE TRUE VINE”. Such branches, or people, will be cut off from THE TRUE VINE in the last day, or “time of harvest”. The great example of this is Judas Iscariot. Although Judas Iscariot was a branch of THE TRUE VINE, he was not a producing branch, or true follower. He did not produce good fruit, and therefore, had to be cut off from THE TRUE VINE, and burned in the end.
In the Greek, the word the Apostle John, and other New Testament writers use for “remain” is “meno” (men-o), and it means “to stay in a given place, state of mind, relationship, or expectancy”; and “to abide, continue, dwell, or endure”. This word occurs 11 times in this particular chapter of this Gospel account of John. The fruitfulness, of which JESUS speaks of in this passage, can only occur, as a result of HIS life being reproduced in ours.
In other words, our life and behavior must reflect JESUS’ life and behavior, and we must “remain” in HIM, or “continue” to reflect HIS image to others, through our own behavior, throughout our entire lifetimes. And only by doing this, can we be considered as “true followers”, or “producing branches” of the “TRUE VINE” of GOD. If we remain, or abide in JESUS, we will continue to bear good fruit. If we fail to remain in JESUS (on the VINE), in spite of all of GOD’s tender loving care of the vineyard, we will be lopped off, and cast into the fire to burn as useless wood.
In John 15:11-17, JESUS moves on to instruct HIS disciples (and us), as to how we should “rightly relate to each other” as Christians. Here, we see JESUS delivering to all who seek to follow HIM, the only commandment that HE would ever give, and it is to “Love one another, as I have loved you” (John 15:12). It is a commandment that the Apostle John never forgot.
According to Jewish folklore, the Apostle John, who lived longer than all of JESUS’ original twelve Disciples, in his old age, had to be carried into the Temple, because he could no longer walk. At that time, the Apostle’s sermon consisted of only one sentence, “Little children, love one another”. It is one of the more lovely stories in a Biblical Church history that consists of countless lovely stories from the early Church. Every time I think of it, it nearly brings me to tears.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website