John 15:8-16

Henry Mahan

(Vs.8) When believers walk in truth and love, when they adorn the doctrine of God, our Saviour, with generous, gracious and exemplary lives and behavior, they glorify God (Matt. 5:16). The fruits of righteousness, by the indwelling Spirit of Christ, displayed by a believer, not only glorify the power, grace and mercy of God in them but cause others to glorify God. 'So shall ye be my disciples.' Our fruitfulness does not make us disciples of Christ but is proof and evidence that we are his disciples. Good fruit does not make a tree good; the tree is first good and the fruit is evidence that the tree is good.

(Vs. 9) The Father's love to the Son is eternal, unchangeable, constant, full and perfect. In all these respects Christ loves his people. This ought to encourage us not only to cherish that love above all things but to continue in that state of love and favour (1 John 4:7-11). 'Abide in me, abide in my word and abide in my love'; this is true faith and discipleship.

(Vs.10) All of these words seem to enforce the principle of perseverance in faith and love for Christ as taught throughout the Word. It is not those who occasionally cry, 'Lord, Lord, who will enter the kingdom of heaven, nor those who name Christ with their lips while their hearts are far from him, nor those who profess to know and love him; but those who truly believe, know and love Christ will walk with him, continue in faith and good works and continue in his love, even as he is for ever the Son of God and always does those things that please his Father (Jer. 32:40; Col 1:21-23; Heb. 3:6, 14). Men show the operation of grace in the heart and true love for Christ by continuing in faith, in his Word and in his love.

(Vs. 11) His words concerning their union with him as the vine and branches, his love for them and their love for him, and his exhortation for them to continue in him, in his words and in his love were spoken to them in order that his joy, peace and rest might remain in them, fill them and encourage them even in the most severe trials of life (Col. 3:15; Rom. 15:13; Phil 4:7;). Difficult times were ahead (John 16:1-4), and they would recall these words in these days.

(Vs. 12) While speaking of perseverance in faith and setting forth the evidences of true discipleship, our Lord comes to the clearest proof and sign of a union with him: 'that you love one another' (John 13:34-35), Love is the principal commandment on which all the others rest (1 Cor. 13:13; 5:13-14; Matt. 22:36-40). Love is of God, and 'He that loveth not knoweth not God' (1 John 4:7-10, 20-21). It is only as we are in Christ, in his Word and in his love that we are able really to love one another and that we shall keep on loving one another.

(Vs. 13) When you combine verses 12 and 13 you are able to see what kind of love our Lord is saying we are to have for one another 'As I have loved you and lay down my life for you.' There is no way that we can copy the infinite, substitutionary and redemptive love of our Lord; nevertheless, the principle of self-sacrifice, self-denial and doing all that we can for the benefit and well-being of others, even to the point of denying ourselves, is there. Like the love of Christ for us, our love for one another gives, forgives, sacrifices, continues and is sincere (I Cor. 13:4-7; Eph. 4:32).

(Vs. 14) The word 'friend' carries a powerful message and Abraham was called the friend of God (Isa. 41:8). spoke to Moses as a friend (Exod. 33:11). In the same, our Lord calls true believers his friends. What favour and to be the friends of God! The friends of the Lord are who love him and do his commandments. Not that our these things gains for us the favour of God and the of his covenant, for that is the gift of his grace Christ; but the sense is that by obeying his Word and doing his will out of a principle of love for him, it becomes evident that we are truly sons and friends of Christ.

(Vs. 15) There is a sense in which we are the servants and bond slaves of our Lord (Rom. 1:1; Exod. 21:1-6), and we delight to serve him in love for ever. But our Lord is saying to his disciples, 'You are more than servants; you are my friends.' A master usually keeps himself distant from servants, commands them to do his bidding without explanation and rewards them or punishes them according to their productivity. With a friend it is different. A friend is loved and taken into one's confidence, plans and counsels. Christ reveals to us, as we are able to receive it, his purpose, his counsel, the great designs of his grace and the glories of his redemptive will. Christ has made known to us, his friends, the glory, gospel, Word and purpose of the Father (John 17:6-8, 14).

(Vs. 16) Though we are friends of Christ and with Christ, that friendship and love did not begin with us but with him. Men by nature hate God (Rom. 8:7). This friendship was one-sided in its origin. He chose us, he set his love upon us, he redeemed us and he called us to himself (Rom. 8:28-31; Thess. 2:13; Eph. 1:3-4). We love him because he loved us, we seek him because he sought us and we call upon him because he made us willing (Psalm 110:3; John 4:10-19; Rom. 5:8). It was Christ who elected us out of a world of sin and darkness and ordained that we should be his sheep, his followers and bear fruit for his glory (Eph. 2:8-10). Being in Christ by purpose and abiding in Christ by grace will produce lasting fruit and bring further mercies and blessings to those who seek his glory and pray accordingly.

Henry Mahan
Ashland, Ky.