Teaching In the Upper Room: How to Glorify the Father

Teaching In the Upper Room: How to Glorify the Father

Do you want to know how to bring glory to the Father? A salesman or advertisement may tell you that your goal can be accomplished in three simple steps, or in a few easy payments. But as the Lord Jesus tells His disciples how to bring glory to the Father, He doesn’t claim it will be easy, but He does break it down in simple terms. We will examine an illustration the Lord Jesus gives while walking in the world with His disciples from the Upper Room to Gethsemane. It is a parable which includes a farmer, grapevine, branches and fruit. It is a simple illustration with profound eternal implications for your life while we are in the world.

John 15
V1-8 - Abiding in Him
V9-17 - Abiding in His Love
V18-27 - Abiding in the World as a Witness

v1 - The Introduction

In v1 the Lord states the first two points of his illustration: “I am the true vine, and My Father is the husbandman,” or farmer. The Father is the focus of the first 8 verses of the chapter. He is the one interested in fruit produced from the branches while they are in the world.

The Lord Jesus is the true vine. It is often rightly pointed out that the Lord is contrasting Himself with Israel. There are many OT references where Israel is shown to be a vine in a vineyard, but its branches were continually failing to produce the desired fruit of Yahweh and were judged.[1] The Lord Jesus instead is wholly true to God and His branches will produce what the Father desired when abiding in Him.

v2 - Expect Extras to be Removed

There are two kind of branches. As with a grapevine, the branches of the vine are where the fruit is produced. Verse 2 teaches that there branches that do not produce fruit, while others do. Branches are those who profess that they are linked with the vine. “In Me” in John’s gospel is not the same as “in Christ” in Paul’s letters. John’s gospel is filled with unique records of professing disciples who prove that they never had been born again.[2] It is impossible for these to bear fruit and so the Father takes them away.[3]

The second kind of branch is one that “bears fruit.” This is the real believer. But as with a farmer in the vineyard, the Father is not content with fruit, but He desires more fruit. Any decent grape grower knows that to produce more fruit, one must methodically cut away what is excess on the vine so that the branches will produce more fruit. The Lord uses a play on words to describe what is done in the false and in the real: “taketh away” (airei, αἴρει) and “purgeth” (kathairei, καθαίρει). The cleansing is not punishment, but it is refinement for our good and God’s glory. The cutting away is evidence that we are abiding in the vine and God is working in us and through us to produce more fruit. V3 teaches that it is the word that cleanses.[4]  Expect the word of God to work by convicting us to remove what is “extra” in our life so that we might bring forth more fruit.

Key Terms to Know

We’ve mentioned fruit continually in the previous paragraph, so what is fruit? Fruit is the evidence of life for a fruit-bearing plant. In an apple tree, it is apples. In an orange tree, it is oranges. In a vine where Christ is the true vine, the fruit is Christ’s character. It is the “fruit of the Spirit”[5] and the “fruit of light.”[6]  If the Father is going to see more of Christ in us, it is going to mean cleansing and cutting away of self so that more of Christ can come to the forefront.

If you’ve read the verses, you won’t have missed the repeated phrase “abide.”[7] To abide is to rely and live in the conscious sense of our link with Christ. It is to “stay in intimate fellowship with the Lord.”[8]

v4-7 - Abide in Christ

V4 is clear that just as a branch must be linked to the vine, we can’t bear fruit ourselves and must be in fellowship with the true vine. Then v5 gives a similar amount of fruit to the end of v2, as our abiding in Him brings forth much fruit. The one who will live in the continual understanding that without living in the world in constant fellowship with Christ – which includes things like purposely serving your employer “with singleness of heart, fearing God”[9], “giving honour to the wife,”[10]or consciously living before your children with “sincere faith.”[11]

Without Christ, there will be absolutely no reduplication of the character of Christ in our lives. V6 emphasizes this truth in a branch that is not genuine. This branch cannot abide in the vine in its condition and therefore does not abide in the vine. A fruitless vine branch is not good for anything except fuel for a fire. V2 showed when the Father removes a branch, now v6 shows when the non-abiding branch takes himself away from the vine because there is no life in it. Judas is an example of the branch in this verse who removed himself from profession, and the religious leaders afforded him no help but gathered him, cast him into the fire, and he was burned.

V7 teaches us the last lesson on abiding in this section. Prayer is answered when you abide in Christ. Why? Because you are asking in the interests of the Son since the Son’s character is being reproduced in you. The character of His teaching and His mind abide in those who abide in Him. We don’t see answers in prayer when we don’t pray, or when we aren’t abiding in Him.

v8 - So, How do I glorify the Father?

It doesn’t take a farming background for someone to realize that the better the crop, the more glory it brings to the farmer. The Lord Jesus makes this clear in the last verse of our section. The Father wants to see fruit, the character of Christ developed in our lives, and therein is glorified. The ultimate mark of every disciple of our Lord Jesus is that they “bear much fruit.” This is the key point that the Lord is working toward the first 8 verses of the chapter: Abide in Me, expect the removal of extras, and you will glorify the Father. Is the character of Christ being produced in your life?

[1] Psa 80:9-16; Isa 5:1-7; 27:2; Jer 2:21; 12:10; Eze 15:1-8; 17:1-21; 19:10-14; Hos 10:1-2
[2] John 1:13; 2:23-25; 6:25, 66; 8:30, 59.
[3] For a discussion of various views on the meaning of “taketh away”, consult David Gooding’s “In the School of Christ,” or any other reputable expository commentary.
[4] “Clean” in v3 shares the verbal root of “purgeth” in v2.
[5] Gal 5:22-23
[6] Eph 5:9
[7] V4 (3x), 5, 6, 7 (2x), 9 (continue), v10 (2x), v11 (remain), v16 (remain)
[8] William MacDonald, The Believer’s Bible Commentary, (Nashville; Thomas Nelson Publishers 1995), p.1549.
[9] Col 3:22
[10] 1 Pe 3:7
[11] 2 Tim 1:5 (NET)

Led by the Spirit...Tempted of the Devil

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