Jesus, the True Vine

John 155 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 15:1–8 (ESV)

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus is the true vine and his disciples are the branches. This illustration was used by Jesus to teach his disciples that they must remain in him in order to bear fruit. It is the vine that supports the life and vitality of the branches. Branches that are dead and do not produce fruit will be pruned and burned.

Disciples of Jesus are called to faithful obedience and service to the Lord. He has called us to make his kingdom our top priority, forsaking our own desires. We must die to self in order to gain life in Christ. However, it can be easy for the things of this world to derail our faithfulness. We can get tangled up in all kinds of other pursuits that keep us from living and proclaiming the kingdom of God.

Jesus’ words are a reminder and warning that those who truly belong to him produce fruit. Their lives evidence the reality. Any branch connected to Jesus, the true vine, will produce the fruit of Christ.

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True Peace

John 1427 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 14:27–31 (ESV)

27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus’ words here were meant to comfort and encourage his followers before his time with them came to an end. He told them that he was leaving peace with them and it was a peace that the world could not give. Jesus’ peace must be understood in light of the cross. His sacrificial death brought peace to all who believe through the forgiveness of sins and reconciliation with God. Those who belong to Jesus no longer have to fear the wrath of God because of sin, but have the hope of eternal life in a new creation without sin. The world can never offer peace because it is steeped in sin and evil that only bring pain and suffering and heartache.

Peace with God. What a wonderful thing! Consider the words of the old hymn, A Mind at Perfect Peace with God:

A mind at perfect peace with God;
O what a word is this!
A sinner reconciled through blood;
This, this indeed is peace.

By nature and by practice far,
How very far from God;
Yet now by grace brought nigh to Him,
Through faith in Jesus’ blood.

So nigh, so very nigh to God,
I cannot nearer be;
For in the person of His Son
I am as near as He.

So dear, so very dear to God,
More dear I cannot be;
The love wherewith He loves the Son,
Such is His love to me.

Why should I ever anxious be,
Since such a God is mine?
He watches o’er me night and day,
And tells me “Mine is thine.”

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Another Helper

John 1416 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 14:15–26 (ESV)

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.

18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me.

25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus prepared his disciples for his departure, he promised that they would not be left alone. A Helper, the Holy Spirit, would be with them. The Spirit would be a teacher and empower Jesus’ followers so that they could keep his commandments.

Jesus’ promise of the Holy Spirit was not just a promise for the believers in his day. Every believer has the indwelling presence and empowerment of the Holy Spirit, even today. The Spirit gives new life, gives gifts of ministry, and leads the people of God into the truth. We must not take the presence of the Spirit for granted. The Spirit even helps us when we pray (cf. Romans 8:26).

Jesus encouraged his disciples that they would not be left alone when he departed from this world. We must not think that we have been left alone either. We have God with us in the person of the Holy Spirit. He is with us at all times and gives us the gifts we need to do all that the Lord has called us to do. What a wonderful gift!

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The Way, the Truth, and the Life

John 146 [widescreen]

Shaped by the Word is a daily, Bible-reading devotional. I do not publish supplemental material on Sundays, but I do include a suggested Scripture reading for the day. Please be sure to subscribe to this page or one of my social media accounts so you can follow along each day. May God bless your time in his word!

Reading the Word

John 14:1–14 (ESV)

1 “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”

8 Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority, but the Father who dwells in me does his works. 11 Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else believe on account of the works themselves.

12 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father. 13 Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If you ask me anything in my name, I will do it.

Being Prepared

closeup photo of black hilt and brown sword

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Reading the Word

Luke 22:35–38 (ESV)

35 And he said to them, “When I sent you out with no moneybag or knapsack or sandals, did you lack anything?” They said, “Nothing.” 36 He said to them, “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one. 37 For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about me has its fulfillment.” 38 And they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.” And he said to them, “It is enough.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus warned his disciples that things were about to change. He does this by telling them to prepare for opposition. Take your moneybag and knapsack. Obtain a sword. Jesus was about to be arrested and the disciples needed to be ready for what was coming.

Some have taken Jesus’ words about obtaining a sword literally, but it does not seem that this is how we should understand it. His disciples took them literally and proclaimed that they had two swords already, but Jesus cut them off as if they had failed to understand. Also, at his arrest, Jesus would not allow the disciples to use the swords. It seems better to understand Jesus’ words in a figurative sense. Opposition was coming and the disciples needed to prepare for it. However, the true battle would be spiritual and fought with spiritual weapons (cf. Ephesians 6:10-18), not the physical weapons of this world.

As Jesus’ disciples today, we must not be surprised when we face opposition. The world hated Jesus then and it has hated his followers in every age. It is a constant reminder that there is a cosmic battle going on and we are on the front lines of this spiritual war. We too must be ready for the fight and we do this through prayer, the word of God, the Spirit of God, the people of God, and trusting in the finished work of our Savior.

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Failed Promises

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Reading the Word

Matthew 26:30–35 (ESV)

30 And when they had sung a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives. 31 Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ 32 But after I am raised up, I will go before you to Galilee.” 33 Peter answered him, “Though they all fall away because of you, I will never fall away.” 34 Jesus said to him, “Truly, I tell you, this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny me three times.” 35 Peter said to him, “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same.

Parallel Texts: Mark 14:26-31; Luke 22:31-34; John 13:36-38

Understanding and Applying the Word

After their meal together, Jesus and the disciples went out to the Mount of Olives. Imagine how the disciples must have felt when Jesus told them that they were all about to abandon him. Peter was quick to respond that there was no way he would ever abandon Christ. Peter proclaimed that he would stick by Jesus’ side even if all others deserted.

After Peter’s promise of allegiance, Jesus told him that he would soon deny Jesus three times, all before the rooster crowed to welcome the morning. Peter promised that he would even go to his death with Jesus. Notice that all of the other disciples made the same promise.

Peter, and the other disciples, made a promise that they could not keep on their own. They would soon find out that Jesus was correct in what he had said. They would desert him. The great thing is, Jesus’ love and forgiveness for his disciples was greater than their failure. Jesus sought them out and restored them after the resurrection. This is good news for all of us because we all fail to keep our promises and commitments. But Christ continues to love us and forgive us as he seeks our restoration and maturity. Do not let your failures or guilt keep you from turning to Jesus. His love and forgiveness are never ending.

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How to Spot a Jesus Follower

John 1335 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

John 13:31–35 (ESV)

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. 32 If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Understanding and Applying the Word

After Judas had gone out from the group, Jesus spoke of his coming glorification. He was looking ahead to the cross and also the resurrection and ascension, which would confirm that Jesus was who he claimed to be and that his words were true.

As Jesus prepared to depart from this world, he left his disciples with the command to love one another. They were to love one another as Jesus had loved them, which was marked by humility and sacrifice. Through this display of love, the world would know that the disciples belonged to Jesus.

Those who belong to Jesus are called to be like him. Others should not only hear us say that we are Christians, but they should be able to observe our actions and know that we are different than the world. Jesus is no longer on earth, but his followers are many and serve as his representatives. We do this by proclaiming his word and by living as he lived. We are to love others just as he has loved us.

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The Desire to Be Great

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Reading the Word

Luke 22:24–30 (ESV)

24 A dispute also arose among them, as to which of them was to be regarded as the greatest. 25 And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. 26 But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. 27 For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.

28 “You are those who have stayed with me in my trials, 29 and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, 30 that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

Understanding and Applying the Word

Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. He was the promised one from the line of David who would reign over Israel and restore it to its place of prominence as it enjoyed during David’s life. To his disciples, this meant that they were going to receive great benefits from their close relationship with Jesus. So, naturally, the disciples argued over who was going to get the most. Who was going to be the greatest?

Jesus told the disciples that things would be different in his kingdom, in contrast to the kingdoms of the world. The world desires power and authority, but the kingdom of Christ cherishes humility and servanthood. Just as Jesus would serve his people by going to the cross and offering his life for others, Jesus’ followers should follow his example and be willing to make sacrifices in service to others. Our goal is not to be greater than others, but to point them to our great Savior.

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Redefining Passover

Mark 1424 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Mark 14:22–25 (ESV)

22 And as they were eating, he took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to them, and said, “Take; this is my body.” 23 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, and they all drank of it. 24 And he said to them, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many. 25 Truly, I say to you, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new in the kingdom of God.”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 26:26-29; Luke 22:15-20

Understanding and Applying the Word

As Jesus shares the Passover meal with his disciples, he redefines the symbolism of the elements that were used in the meal. Passover was a time for Jews to look back and remember God’s deliverance and provision when he brought them out of slavery in Egypt. However, Jesus told his disciples that the bread and the wine were pictures of him. They represented his body and blood, which would be given for the salvation of all believers in just a few hours. Jesus was delivering mankind out of slavery to sin and into eternal life in the presence of God.

Each time we go to the communion table, we should be reminded of the truth found here. Jesus is the deliverer of his people. He willingly gave his life as a sacrifice and invites all to trust in him for forgiveness of sin and the hope of eternal life. Just as the Jewish people trusted in the blood of the lamb spread on the door posts in the time of the Exodus, we are called to trust in the blood of Jesus, the true Lamb of God, for our salvation. Worthy is the Lamb who was slain!

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Jesus Betrayed

Mark 1418 [widescreen]

Reading the Word

Mark 14:18–21 (ESV)

18 And as they were reclining at table and eating, Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me, one who is eating with me.” 19 They began to be sorrowful and to say to him one after another, “Is it I?” 20 He said to them, “It is one of the twelve, one who is dipping bread into the dish with me. 21 For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Parallel Texts: Matthew 26:21-25; John 13:21-30

Understanding and Applying the Word

In one of the most surprising passages in all of Scripture, we read that Jesus would be betrayed. Not only would he be betrayed, it would be by one of his disciples. Jesus revealed this truth to the group as he ate this last meal with them. One of the men who was at the table was about to betray him.

How could this happen? How could a person who spent so much time with Jesus, who witnessed the miracles, and heard all of the teaching, betray Jesus? This passage tells us about Judas, but it also alerts us that not all things are always as they seem. Judas seemed to be a part of Jesus’ devoted followers, but he really was not. He was more interested in stealing money from the group and looking out for his own interests. When he came to realize that following Jesus was not going to be profitable to him, he was ready to cash out, so he agreed to betray him for a price. We may also see people in our day who appear for a time to be devoted followers of Christ, only later to prove that they are not. Many will walk away from Jesus for the same reasons Judas did. They will realize that following Jesus is not what they expected. When their desires are not met, they will leave because they never truly belonged to Jesus.

We must ask ourselves, “Why am I following Jesus?” Is it because we think he is going to give us our hearts’ desires? Or are we following him for his own sake? Do we simply want Jesus?

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