Bible study: I AM the True Vine – John 15

John  15:1-17 NLT 

1 “I am the true grapevine, and My Father is the gardener.

2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and He prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.

3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you.

4 Remain in Me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in Me.

5 “Yes, I AM the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in Me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from Me you can do nothing.

6 Anyone who does not remain in Me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned.

7 But if you remain in Me and My words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted!

8 When you produce much fruit, you are My true disciples. This brings great glory to My Father.

9 “I have loved you even as the Father has loved me. Remain in My love.

10 When you obey My commandments, you remain in My love, just as I obey My Father’s commandments and remain in His love.

11 I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!

12 This is my commandment: Love each other in the same way I have loved you.

13 There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

14 You are My friends if you do what I command.

15 I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are My friends, since I have told you everything the Father told Me.

16 You didn’t choose Me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using My name.

17 This is my command: Love each other.

Context and explanation 

This teaching follows the Last Supper, Jesus washing the disciples’ feet, predicting the betrayal and Simon Peter’s denial of Him (John 13); then He explains how He is the Way to the Father, and explains who the Holy Spirit is and how He will become known to them to maintain the link (John 14). Now He urges them to stay in close fellowship with Him (even though He will be taken from them) because that closeness is the only way for them to be fruitful – and to be fruitful is the mark of every disciple.

The picture of the vine or vineyard is used in the OT as a symbol for Israel, God’s covenant people,often in a critical sense – read Psalm 80:8–9, Isaiah 5:1-7, 27:2-6. Israel’s failure to produce fruit resulted in divine judgment, but by contrast, Jesus is the true vine, and His followers are to remain in him and produce much fruit for God.

In the illustration, some branches are not producing fruit, as they should, and are cut off. Others that are fruit-bearing, are Greek airo pruned, or lifted up – a term familiar in tree husbandry – so they will produce more. During the year, most pruning during the year trimmed fruitful branches to strengthen them. The weakest vines were trimmed most thoroughly. The fruitless branches would be subject to the most severe pruning and be cut off, thrown away and burned.

Relating this to people, it is a discussion about those who initially profess to follow Jesus and then do, or do not, remain in Him. Jesus spoke about “remaining in Him” much earlier, when He gave the much-misunderstood teaching about receiving Him in “flesh and blood” i.e. in entirety, in the Capernaum synagogue shortly after the feeding of the Five Thousand, read John 6:55-60, 66. Without the Holy Spirit (not yet given at that time) this was a hard teaching to grasp, and most of those thousands did not remain! Following the Resurrection we are told 120 gathered in the Upper Room to pray.

Understanding what is meant by the term remain or abide, Greek meno, is the key to understanding this passage and Jesus as the true Vine, or source. To grow as disciples we have to be continuously connected to Christ. The true disciple is characterised by life change and being fruitful – bringing the presence of the kingdom of God and its values. Particularly mentioned here are love, and joy and a vibrant prayer life and unity in fellowship are implied.

In the OT only Abraham, and by implication, Moses, are called “friends of God”. “You are My friends” promises every true believer a close, personal relationship with the eternal all powerful Creator of the universe, John 1:1-3 and 10.

Application : questions to guide discussion 

1. Who is Jesus addressing, when, and why?

2. What is the difference between being pruned, purified and cut off

Verses 2-3

3. What does Jesus mean when He calls believers to “Remain…”?

4. What does Jesus mean by “I AM the true vine”?

 What did this mean to the original hearers? How do we now understand Jesus, the vine, and us as the branches, v.5. 

5. What does it mean to produce fruit, or lasting fruit,

See vv. 2, 4, 5, 8, 16. Hint: joy and love are mentioned, vv.11 and 12-13. See also v.7, and vv.14-17

 

6. What are repeated emphases of this passage and what do they add up to?

What is going on – what precedes, what comes after? (Q.1)

Verses 2, 4, 5, 8, 16 – Jesus the vine, and us the branches

Verses 4-7 – remaining or not remaining in Him

Verses 9-10 and 12-13 – remaining in His love… loving one another… loving the way Jesus loved… loving sacrificially the way Jesus loved us, for us to be able to love others. How many times is “love” mentioned? 

7. What does it mean to us, to be Jesus’ friends, v.15? What does that produce among different Christian believers?

Think about the enormity of being called to be a friend of the creator of the universe. And the values shared with all others who share that same friendship – what that produces. 

8. What is the distinction of being chosen and appointed, v.16, by Jesus? 

 What is His purpose? Chosen and appointed for what? What encouragement does that give us? 

9. What is the connection between remaining, v.4 etc, going, v.16, and producing much fruit, v.5/v.8, and the Father’s granting of requests in Jesus’ name?

 In what sense do we remain? In what sense do we also need to go? 

10. In practical terms, where do we start and how do we grow, to fulfill being chosen by Jesus and appointed by Him?

 Individually – and together 

Source: https://is.gd/YDLkiU

Bible study: Jesus said: “I AM The Way, the Truth and the Life”

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For Weobley BS, Tuesday, March 26, 2019

 • Link to OT saying: Yahweh M’keddesh, the Lord our holiness, Leviticus 20:8 

Read John 14:1-7 NLT

1 “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in Me.

2-4 There is more than enough room in My Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with Me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”

5 “No, we don’t know, Lord,” Thomas said. “We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?”

6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through Me.

7 If you had really known Me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know Him and have seen Him!”

CONTEXT AND EXPLANATION 

Jesus said elsewhere that His followers would be received into “eternal habitations” or “an eternal home” — the sense of a place prepared for them, read Luke 16:9; 1 Cor. 2:9. The most immediate way Jesus would “come and get” the disciples (v.3) was in His various post-resurrection appearances. However, Jesus was clearly looking far ahead to His final return.

Whatever the timing, He told the disciples that they knew the way to where He was going, using a syllogism logic common among Greek orators: ‘You know the way, because I am the Way, and you know Me!’

Now that exclusive relationship has changed into Jesus being the only way of salvation and the way to the Father, for all who choose to make Him the way. Only through Jesus can we gain access to God.

He is Yahweh M’keddesh, the Lord our holiness – Reference A

There is no other name, no other way to God as Acts 4:12 tells us.

“How can we know the way?” Thomas asks. In the early church, followers of Jesus were first known as followers of the Way – see Acts 9:2 – and the nickname ‘Christians’, meaning ‘little Christs’, caught on later.

Jesus’ statement “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life” means that He is the way of God, the truth of God and the life of God, all incarnate in human form. For His original hearers, unsure of who He was, this was a clear claim to Jesus being God in person.

Knowing God as Father is not always easy – depending on what our picture of a father is like. But Jesus is the exact representation of the perfect Father in every dimension – way + truth + life. When we come to know Jesus, we come to know the exact representation of God!

“I AM the way”, expresses that Jesus is our ‘holiness passport’, who stands to welcome us into God’s presence. Where once there was a big thick temple curtain hanging as a barrier to prevent us unholy people from entering the holy space, Jesus – the Lord our holiness – now stands to usher us in.

“I AM the life” emphasises that Jesus is the only one who fulfils the OT promise of life given by God, by having life in Himself and being uniquely equipped to confer life on others.

Jesus, giver of life – Reference B

Jesus as the Truth (reality) is the fulfilment of the teaching of the OT. John emphasises this in his gospel and letters e.g. 1 John 5:20.

Jesus the Truth or Reality of God – Reference C.

Jesus is the master of life. Only He knows God without any distortion from sin. He is the truth and reality because He has the power to make sense of life unswayed by its ups and downs. He is the life because He was not subject to death, but made death subject to Him. Death was not the end of His life; He died to show us the power and continuity of His life. 

QUESTIONS 

1. How is Thomas’ question (v.5), “How can we know the way…” relevant for us today? Is it for us, or for those we meet?

2. How does Jesus’ statement as a whole in verses 6-7 help us to know what God is like?

3. Jesus is the way to God (v.6). Why do people find that difficult?

4. Is it enough to receive and believe the simple truth, in simple faith, that Jesus is the way to God, or is more needed? 

5. Hearing Jesus say “I AM the truth….”, what does He mean? Why is Jesus different from all other influential people?

6. Jesus tells us “I AM the life…” What life does He refer to? How does having life in Jesus encourage us, day by day?

7. When ‘life’ gets on top of us, how does Jesus the life of God change the balance of the scales?

8. Moses presented the truth “I AM the Lord who makes you holy,” Lev. 20:8, in one way, and Jesus shows another aspect – what is the same, what is different?

9. Fear is a basic emotion that can influence our thoughts and lives. What is the fundamental fear that is confronted in verses 1-4?

10. How does Jesus fulfil and make accessible the OT promises of life given by God, e.g. “I put to death and I bring to life… You make known to me the path of life… With You is the fountain of life”, Deut 32:39, Psalms 16:11, 36:9

REFERENCES  

(A)  THE LORD OUR HOLINESS 

Leviticus 20:7-8 So set yourselves apart to be holy, for I am the LORD your God. Keep all my decrees by putting them into practice, for I am the LORD who makes you holy

(B)  JESUS THE GIVER OF LIFE 

 1 John 4:9  God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him

John 3:14-16 “And as Moses lifted up the bronze snake on a pole in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life. For this is how God loved the world: He gave His one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. 

John 5:24 “I tell you the truth, those who listen to My message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life. 

John 5:25-26 “And I assure you that the time is coming, indeed it’s here now, when the dead will hear My voice–the voice of the Son of God. And those who listen will live. The Father has life in Himself, and He has granted that same life-giving power to His Son. 

 John 6:47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life

 John 10:27 My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.  

 Romans 8:11 The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you

(C) THE REALITY OF GOD IN JESUS

 John 1:17-18  For the law was given through Moses, but God’s unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. But the unique One, who is Himself God, is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us

 Col. 1:15  Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation… 

 1 John 5:20  And we know that the Son of God has come, and He has given us understanding so that we can know the true* God. And now we live in fellowship with the true* God because we live in fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ. He is the only true* God, and He is eternal life. 

 *True: alethinos – real, true, genuine. Opposite to what is fictitious, counterfeit, imaginary, simulated or pretended, the word contrasts ‘realities with their semblances’. 

 ALSO: John 5:37-39 And the Father who sent me has testified about Me Himself. You have never heard His voice or seen Him face to face and you do not have His message in your hearts, because you do not believe Me – the one He sent to you. You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to Me!

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Bible study: Jesus said “I AM the Good Shepherd”

 Read John 10:1-16 NLT 

Context notes

Questions

References

1-2 “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the Shepherd of the sheep.

3 “The gatekeeper opens the gate for Him, and the sheep recognise His voice and come to Him. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.

4-5 “After He has gathered His own flock, He walks ahead of them, and they follow Him because they know His voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”

6-7 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what He meant, so He explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.

8 All who came before Me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them.

9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through Me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.

10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. 

11-13 “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd sacrifices His life for the sheep. A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.

14-15 “I am the Good Shepherd; I know My own sheep, and they know Me, just as My Father knows Me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice My life for the sheep.

16 “I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to My voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.”

Context  

Jesus is talking about something familiar to His first-century Palestine hearers. At day’s end, several families’ flocks would be corralled together in a walled enclosure. At daybreak, each shepherd would come and call out his own flock, who would know his voice. They were used to following their shepherd to grazing and water.

Some leaders were seen as shepherds of the nation, with a role to lead the nation in and out e.g. Joshua who was appointed by Moses with God’s call to lead Israel into the promised land, Numbers 27:15-18. The Shepherd of Israel is a title of the Lord (Yahweh) used in Psalm 80:1.

• Some verses for further study: Psalm 80:1, Psalm 23:1, Isaiah 40:10-11, Ezekiel 34:11-16, Zechariah 10:2, Mark 6:34

The context is the man healed from blindness in chapter 9.

The healed man in John 9 is one of the ‘sheep’ who hear the Lord’s voice. By contrast, those who expelled him from the synagogue are “strangers”, v.5, who Jesus likens to conventional thieves and robbers, and to the ‘false shepherds’ of Ezekiel 34:2-4.

The condition of the man who needed healing, and the condition of those who treated him harshly is held up for comparison.

The point of the story: the difference between the thief and the Good Shepherd, and how people today can be helped to tell the difference.

Questions  to guide discussion

Jesus says “I AM the gate (verses 6-7 and 9) and also says “I AM the Good Shepherd” verses 11 and 14. How can he be both? Clue: “I AM….”

Who tries to get to the sheep without going through the gate?

Who might the gatekeeper refer to, in our world?

Is the thief, v.10, who sneaks over the wall, v.1, a real threat? 

What light does the picture of the thief, coming over the wall unobserved (verse 1) for evil purposes (verse 10) shed on situations we face or hear about every day?

What defines the Good Shepherd? What words would we use to describe what the Good Shepherd is like?

verses 11-16

– He regards the sheep how?

– puts what value on the sheep?

– sees each sheep how?

– looks at many sheep in different groups how?

7. What did ‘shepherd’ mean in a political sense? What does Jesus mean in verse 8?

8. How do the sheep recognise the voice of the Good Shepherd? In a world of many voices, how do we recognise the content and tone of this particular voice?

9. The sheep may know His voice (verses 4-5) but why do they follow Him as He walks ahead?

10. The danger of verse 10 is clear enough. What is the greater, underlying danger set out in vv. 1-2 with the remedy, verse 14?

11. What is the lesson of this passage, in a sentence? How would you explain why Jesus is known as the Good Shepherd to someone with no church or Christian background?

References  (excerpts)

Psalm 80:1 Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel…O God, enthroned above the cherubim…

Isaiah 40:10-11 The Sovereign Lord is coming in power…He will feed His flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in His arms, holding them close to His heart…  

Ezekiel 34:11-16 “…The Sovereign Lord says: I myself will search and find My sheep… I will find My sheep and rescue them… I will give them good pastureland… I Myself will tend My sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign Lord. I will search for My lost ones who strayed away…But I will destroy those who are fat and powerful. I will feed them, yes — feed them justice!

Zechariah 10:2 Household gods give worthless advice…So My people are wandering like lost sheep; they are attacked because they have no shepherd.

Mark 6:34 Jesus saw the huge crowd as He stepped from the boat, and He had compassion on them because they were like sheep without a shepherd…

 Ezekiel  34:2-4 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign Lord: What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep? You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty.

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Bible Study: Jesus said: “I AM the Bread of Life” – John 6:35

Jesus said: “I AM the Bread of Life”

OT connection: Gen. 22:14, Yahweh Yireh — the LORD will provide

John 6:25-36 NLT (compare this with your own Bible)

The context: Immediately after the miraculous Feeding of the Five Thousand, Jesus and the disciples took a boat across the Sea of Galilee and landed near Capernaum. Some of the crowd, guessing where Jesus would be found, found their way there around the shoreline.

25 They found Him on the other side of the lake and asked, “Rabbi, when did You get here?”

26 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with Me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs. 27 But don’t be so concerned about perishable things like food. Spend your energy seeking the eternal life that the Son of Man can give you. For God the Father has given Me the seal of His approval.”

28 They replied, “We want to perform God’s works, too. What should we do?”

29 Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the One He has sent.”

30 They answered, “Show us a miraculous sign if You want us to believe in You. What can You do? 31 After all, our ancestors ate manna while they journeyed through the wilderness! The Scriptures say, ‘Moses gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ ”

32 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, Moses didn’t give you bread from heaven. My Father did. And now He offers you the True Bread from heaven. 33 The True Bread of God is the One who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

34 “Sir,” they said, “give us that bread every day.”

35 Jesus replied, “I AM the bread of life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty. 36 But you haven’t believed in Me even though you have seen Me.”

40 For it is my Father’s will that all who see his Son and believe in Him should have eternal life. I will raise them up at the last day.”

47 “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes has eternal life. 48 Yes, I am the bread of life! 49 Your ancestors ate manna in the wilderness, but they all died. 50 Anyone who eats the bread from heaven, however, will never die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Anyone who eats this bread will live forever; and this bread, which I will offer so the world may live, is My flesh.”

To reflect on, and ‘become one of the crowd’

Who is Jesus of Nazareth? In each of these I AM sayings, (v.35) Jesus is making a statement: He looks like a son of man (human being – which He was), but He is also God incarnate, the Messiah. Each saying represented a facet, a particular covenant name, of God.

What was the need here? Jesus was saying that He was the living provision, not just regular bread but the ‘Living Bread’ because Yahweh Yireh – the God who provides – had come to them. This looks back to Genesis 22 and Abraham’s need of a sacrifice offering with His son Isaac the only candidate, and God’s miraculous provision, Genesis 22:14 – “Abraham named the place Yahweh-Yireh (which means “the LORD will provide”).

What is the history they are remembering? It also looks back to another miraculous provision – the manna for 40 years in the wilderness, Exodus 16, which the crowd attributed (wrongly) to Moses. There was a popular expectation that the long-expected Messiah would repeat this, and Jesus has multiplied ordinary bread to feed a crowd once. But are they making the right comparison?

Questions to think about, to help focus the discussion. No right or wrong answers!

1. What is the simple story here?

2. On a more spiritual level, what is going on here, the story within a story? What do the people want (vv.30-31) and what does Jesus’ hold out to them, which isn’t quite what they want? (vv.35-36)

3. What does the crowd seem to be preoccupied with? (vv.28-29 and v.30).

4. What does Jesus emphasise, in reply? What is the one “work” Jesus demands of us? (v.29) What does this look like, day by day in ordinary life?

5. What long-held understanding or teaching, among religious and ordinary Jews, was Jesus overturning? (vv.28, 47)

6. Why do we seem to prefer ‘doing and earning’, rather than ‘believing and receiving’?

7. How is Jesus defined by the crowd (in v.28), and defined by Himself (v.35)? So, what is it He is leading them to understand in a new way?

8. If what Jesus requires is a ‘faith stretch’ for us, what do we experience together or share together, that will help us and make it less of a stretch on our own?

9. How would you explain what it means to believe that Jesus is the Bread of Life? Jesus said that He is Bread of Life. What he meant was that…

10. What is the significance of Abraham giving the Lord a name which recalls a particular event? How does it help us – help our prayer life in particular – to know the Lord, who is known by that covenant name?

11. What was “bread from heaven” (v.32) and who gave it? What did it do for the people, and for how long? (Exodus 16:4, 14-15, 19)

What did Jesus say that He would do for them, as the True Bread, and what was the difference (vv. 32-34, 40, 47-51)

12. How, in very practical terms, do we receive and feed on True Bread every day? What does this do for us? What needs does it meet?

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