PASSAGE: I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing. Whoever does not abide in me is thrown away like a branch and withers; such branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask for whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit and become my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 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. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. (John 15:1-17)
COMMENT: This is an important and revealing passage from Jesus’ great final discourse to his disciples in the Gospel of John, delivered on the eve of his arrest and crucifixion. It is much too dense to allow for a quick and detailed commentary. As with so much of the Gospel of John, it’s important to be clear about exactly who is speaking, and to whom.
If Jesus of Nazareth is speaking to the men and women who have been following him as his disciples, the statement is very strange. They are not his servants, for example, nor has he ever treated them as such. They are his students, colleagues and friends—to suggest that they were ever servants is condescending at best.
Clarity comes when we realize that Jesus is speaking throughout this discourse from his Christ consciousness—he is speaking as Jesus Christ, the full expression of divine Presence and Power. The entire purpose of his ministry was to teach and demonstrate the Christ—not as an attribute unique to him, but as the Presence of God that is the true identity of each of us. He calls us to embrace our own Christ nature, to continue through our inspired choices the work of creating the kingdom that he has begun.
Our relationship to the Christ within us changes dramatically as we become aware of its truth, and its presence within us. It is always the truth of who we are, even when we don’t know it or acknowledge it. We always express the creative power of the Christ at times, even if unknowingly. God is always seeking to express through us, no matter how unaware we may be. We are servants of that Power, doing its bidding without understanding the great, divine creative process at work. It is only when we do become aware, however, that we can fully participate in the creation of the kingdom of heaven. It is by consciously cooperating with the Christ that we become co-creators of the kingdom.