John”s gospel is reckoned to have been written some 60 years after the death of Jesus and to have been written in Greek with Greek themes and understandings.
Jesus is speaking to his disciples in the Upper Room in this last conversation with them, but it is more than conversation, it is his final message and as such very powerful.
He compares himself to a vine. To bear fruit the disciples have to stay attached to the vine. The vine was a symbol of Israel.
My fruit trees are in blossom. maybe they will bear fruit given the right conditions.
In this passage he is using an image of symbiosis of us and God, joined and fused with love but a love that is grater than anything else we have ever known. Sacrificial love, laying yourself down for your friends, love- for no reward or ego gain. This is not normal. Most people do something for something back-unfortunately. To do this we have to spiritually experience God’s love. Can we do this without it being conveyed by someone? It’s difficult. It conjures up the image of the Good Shepherd laying down his life for his sheep, sacrificial love.
We need to nurture our understanding of God’s love because our society’s understanding of love is limited, skewed.
How do we do this? By keeping God’s commandments. Easy! No not really. It’s hard to love. Especially when there’s no reward. But this is the discipline. And God’s commandments are summed up in loving God, loving our neighbour as we love ourselves. Simples?! This results in us being happy or having joy or peace.
And Jesus gives it a visual context, and says love one another as I have loved you. So it’s not ethereal. It’s real practical love. It’s sacrificial. We put ourselves out. It costs. It’s not cheap love. And we may be taken for fools. We may give our lives in the process like diving into the sea to rescue someone who is drowning and die in the process.
The disciples are not Jesus servants but his friends. These disciples are called to be the best quality friends you can ever have. They will be in your corner.
You don’t keep things from your friends. You share everything. It’s a high quality of relationship.
We have been chossing MPs and councillors but this choosing is different. The disciples have been chosen to be Jesus’s friends, appointed, put in place, the word in Hebrew is to lay the hand on the head of, to ordain, or set aside for a special task, to commission
And the fruit they will bear will be this love, this quality of relationship-and it comes with a promise-if you do this your prayers will be answered! Wow! What an honour!
And the crux of Jesus message is that his followers must love one another. If we don’t, we are not doing what he wants, we wont be happy, we wont bear fruit and our prayers will not be answered.