Call to worship: Psalm 80:7-19
Text: John 15:1-17
Jesus, the true Vine, seeks, as He speaks, the fullness of our Christian joy. He wants His people, His branches, to have His joy---the joy of sanctified and fruitful relationship to God. To that end, He asserts (again) His place in our having a relationship to God at all. He calls us to abide in Him, as is critical for bearing fruit and sustaining assurance in the Christian life. It's what ultimately separates living from dead branches, heirs of grace from those only apparently united to Jesus. This further lends itself to the great means of fruitfulness: prayerfulness. As branches, we look to the Vine as dependents. As we abide in Him, we're to abide in His grace, in His Word, in prayer, but also in His love, which takes center stage as the example for His consummative command: that, as His branches, His friends, His people, we operate as a missional community of self-sacrificial love. Christian joy, as well as being Christ-centered, is cruciform and church-shaped. As His joy was found in the realities of love and obedience to the Father, so ours will no less be.
- Jesus' stated purpose: His pursuit of our Christian joy. (15:11)
- Jesus' commanded impetus behind our Christian joy: abide in Me. (15:4a)
- Know our identity in light of His. (15:1-3)
- Be motivated by His motivations. (15:4b-8)
- Keep His commandments. (15:9-10)
- Befriend His friends. (15:12-17)
- Read John 15:1-17.
- In 15:11, what is Jesus' stated purpose for this section of teaching? Does it surprise you that Jesus is concerned about your joy? What joy is it? To what degree does He desire us to have it? Jesus wants us to walk with a spring in our step, but some Christians, it seems, walk their whole life with a limp. How might these verses shape an understanding of that and, God willing, forge an effectual remedy, a remedial faith?
- What, does it seem, is Jesus' main commanded impetus for a flood of Christian joy? Consider 15:4. What does 15:1-3 contribute to that main imperative? Why is it important for abiding to know Who (or what) Jesus is? And the Father is? And what They do? And why? Why would Christ's 'already' (in 15:3) give us great assurance in our pursuit of joy?
- How does 15:4-6 accentuate and motivate the main imperative? Do we understand our resources in light of Jesus and His resources? Do we desire to bear fruit? How does the threat of Hell motivate our pursuit of joy? How does 15:7-8 further press us on to abide in Christ? How does it begin to specify what abiding involves? How does Word and prayer relate to our pursuit of joy?
- How does 15:9-10, 12-17 address abiding in Christ? How does Jesus narrow or focus-in on the subject of our abiding in 15:9? How does obedience to Jesus settle us in His love? How is 15:10 distinct from 14:15? What is the one commandment that, in keeping, assumes obedience to all the rest? How is Christ's pursuit of our joy cruciform? How is it necessarily church-shaped? Will we be joyful in Christ (truly and fully) without being a meaningful part of His missional community of self-sacrificial love? How is Jesus our example of joyful love? What is it to be a friend of Christ? An heir of fullness of Joy?