“Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.
He takes away. This is a poor translation; a better one is “He lifts up.” The word for take is airo which means to lift, pick or raise up and this is how the word is translated in many other places (e.g., Mark 16:18, Luke 5:24, 17:13, John 11:41, Acts 4:24, Rev. 10:5). Unfruitful branches are lifted out of the dirt and re-dressed so they can be nourished by the sun.
The reason why some Christians are barren is that they’re face down in the dirt and not looking at the Son. They’re busy, distracted, stressed, and have wandered from their primary love. When believers lose sight of Christ’s love they tend to become religious and busy (Rev. 2:4-5).
The remedy is to remember the height from which you have fallen and to allow God the Gardener to lift you back up to the high places of his love. As you bask in his love, you will bear his fruit effortlessly.
Further reading: “Are unfruitful branches lifted up?”
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me.
Abide in Me. To abide in Christ is to rest in his love (John 15:9). It’s living with the complete dependence that a branch has for a vine and realizing that apart from him we can do nothing. See entry for Abiding.
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.
I am the vine, you are the branches. What a wonderful picture of our total dependence on Christ. Our union with the Lord is the source of our very life (Gal. 2:20, Eph. 2:5, Col. 3:4). Apart from him we can do nothing, but in him we truly live and move and have our being.
See entry for Union.
“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.
The cut off branches are those who do not believe in Jesus. This includes the nation of Israel who rejected the Lord and cut themselves off on account of their unbelief (see entry for Rom. 11:17).
“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love.
(a) The Father has loved Me. The original word for love means to be well pleased or fond of or contented with. It describes the unconditional love God the Father has for his Son (John 3:35, 17:26), for the whole world (John 3:16), and for his children (Eph. 2:4, 1 John 3:1). God loves you with the same sort of love he has for Jesus (see entry for John 17:23).
(b) Abide in my love. Under the old law-keeping covenant, you were commanded to love the Lord your God with all your heart (Deut. 6:5, 10:12). The flow was from you to the Lord. But in the new covenant of grace, we love because he first loved us (1 John 4:19). It is because we know the love of Christ (Eph. 3:19) that we are able to walk in his love (Eph. 5:2), keep ourselves in his love (Jude 1:21), and remain in his love (John 15:9, 10, 1 John 4:12, 16).
“If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
(a) If you keep My commandments. Obedience is a fruit of trusting Jesus (1 John 3:23).
In the new covenant, obedience follows trust, and we trust him because we know him. However, someone with an old covenant mindset reverses the order: “If you wish to know him, you must keep his commandments.” Perversely, this mindset will have the very opposite effect as it will cause you to trust in yourself while alienating you from Christ (Gal. 5:4).
(b) My Father; see entry for John 4:21.
(c) My Father’s commandments. God commands us to believe in Jesus and love one another (1 John 3:23)
In contrast with the heavy yoke of Moses (Act 15:10), the yoke of Jesus is light (Matt. 11:30). “His commandments are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3
(d) Abide in his love. To abide in the love of the Father is to abide in the love of Jesus (see previous verse).
“Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.
Greater love. By definition the agape-love of God is unconditional and self-sacrificing (Eph. 5:2, 25, 1 John 3:16). God will never make you jump through hoops to earn his love. He won’t love you any more if you succeed and he won’t love you any less if you fail. There is nothing you can do to make him love you more, and nothing you can do to make him love you less.
See the entry for The Love of God.
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