John 15:9-17

Sunday Morning Bible Study

November 28, 2010


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

We are on the last night before Jesus’ death. Jesus and His disciples have left the Upper Room and are making their way to the Garden of Gethsemane.

Last week we looked at Jesus talking about “abiding”, the relationship we have with Him, and the fruit that results from our connection with Jesus.

15:9-17 Abiding in Love

:9 “As the Father loved Me, I also have loved you; abide in My love.

:9 askathos – according as; just as, even as; in proportion as, in the degree that

:9 abidemeno – to remain, abide; not to depart; to continue to be present


Love’s measure

My wife let me make the gravy for our Thanksgiving dinner.  I learned that you start off by mixing ½ cup of flour with ½ cup of butter.  You use the same amount of both flour and butter. The measure is the same.  It’s kathos
Jesus says that the measure you use to measure how much the Father loves Him is the same measure that measures how much He loves us.
Think for a moment about the love that the Father has for the Son.
Peter had heard God speak twice, once at the baptism of Jesus, once when Jesus was transfigured on the mountain:

(2 Pe 1:17 NKJV) For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

Jesus prayed,

(Jn 17:24 NKJV) “Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with Me where I am, that they may behold My glory which You have given Me; for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.

Jesus and the Father have always existed together in sweet fellowship, with an amazing love.

Would you agree with that statement?

Jesus says that this is the measure by which He loves us.
Let that sink in.
Jesus loves you as much as the Father loves Him.
Paul prayed for the Ephesians:

(Eph 3:18–19 NLT) —18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

:10 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.

:10 abidemeno – to remain, abide; not to depart; to continue to be present


Obedience and Love

You are already loved. To continue or remain in God’s love, all we have to do is to “stay put”.
The way to “stay put” is to live a life of obedience to God – keep His commandments.
Some of us actually do quite a lot of things in order to be loved or appreciated.

For some people, it goes back to your parents. And even though your parents might be dead, there’s still a part of you that is trying to earn your father’s love or your mother’s love.

For some people it’s a relationship they’re in. Your husband/wife doesn’t do a good job of letting you know that he/she loves you, and perhaps at times you wonder if he/she does love you. And so you work a little harder, try to do things a little better, all in hopes of getting that reward – that he/she might express their love to you.

What is amazing is that the greatest love of all, the love that God has for us, is already there. God already loves you.

You can’t do anything to deserve it. You already have it.

We just need to learn to enjoy it, and stay at the center of His love.

Obedience is the thing that keeps us in the center of God’s love.
Jesus isn’t asking us to do anything He hasn’t done.

He has kept the Father’s commandments.

We don’t obey God in order to earn His love.

We obey God because He loves us, we love Him, and obedience keeps us right in the center of that love relationship.

Obedience becomes much easier when we obey out of love rather than out of duty.
There are a couple of ancient stories of men who travelled the ancient world. Both men supposedly encountered some of the same dangers, but they dealt with them differently.

One story is about Ulysses, also called Odysseus. In his travels, he heard from stories about the island of the Sirens, deadly bird-women creatures who made such beautiful music that the sailors that passed their shores would become enchanted with their music, turn their ships towards the shore, and die as their ships were dashed on the rocks. No one had ever heard the song of the Sirens and lived. Ulysses was challenged by this and decided to become the first man to hear their music and survive.

In order to do this, Ulysses put beeswax in the ears of his crew and gave them instructions to tie him to the ship’s mast. As they got close to the island, the music began. Ulysses tried to get free from the ropes so he could swim ashore, but the ropes held tight. He had heard their song and survived, but for the rest of his life he was haunted by the music he had heard.

Greek mythology tells of another ship that survived the Sirens. Jason and his Argonauts needed to get past the island of the Sirens. He was advised to take a fellow named Orpheus along in order to survive. Orpheus was a gifted musician who played a lyre. When Jason and his crew got near the island, Orpheus began to play his lyre. His music was louder and sweeter than the Sirens, and Jason’s crew were not tempted to steer their ship onto the rocks.

We often face all kinds of dangerous situations where we are tempted by the enticing music of the world.

We can try to face it like Ulysses, and tie ourselves up with guilt, rules, and legalism.

We may get through a few temptations, but it is agonizing business!

And even after the temptation, we’re still haunted with fears of falling into sin.

Or we can handle it like Jason, and listen to the sweet melody of the God’s love for us.

It’s not that we abandon discipline.  But we will find that as we fall deeper in love with Him, the world’s temptations don’t have the same kind of pull anymore.

We obey because we love Him.

We stay in His love through obedience.

:11 “These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full.

:11 remainmeno – to remain, abide; not to depart; to continue to be present

It’s the word we’ve seen translated several times already as “abide”.

:11 joychara – joy, gladness

:11 be fullpleroo – to render full, to fill to the top; fill to the brim


The Joyful Life

God’s desire is that a Christian’s life be full of joy.
It’s a sad thing when some Christians think that they are more spiritual because they never smile and never enjoy life.

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said, “I might have entered the ministry if certain clergymen I knew had not looked and acted so much like undertakers.”

Robert Louis Stevenson once entered in his diary, as if he was recording an extraordinary phenomenon, “I have been to Church today, and am not depressed.”

Garrison Keillor wrote, “Some people think it’s difficult to be a Christian and to laugh, but I think it’s the other way around. God writes a lot of comedy, it’s just that He has so many bad actors.”

If we’re not careful, we can fall into the trap of connecting happiness with the wrong things.
Some fall into the trap of thinking that happiness comes from a bottle or the end of a needle.
Some think happiness comes from a sexual experience.
Some think of joy as getting a new dress, the latest smart phone, or a new car.
Full joy comes from obedience. Obedience keeps us in the center of God’s love.
A bagpipe player tells a story…
As a bagpiper, I play many gigs. Recently I was asked by a funeral director to play at a graveside service for a homeless man. He had no family or friends, so the service was to be at a pauper’s cemetery in the Kentucky back country. As I was not familiar with the backwoods, I got lost and, being a typical man, I didn’t stop for directions. I finally arrived an hour late and saw the funeral guy had evidently gone and the hearse was nowhere in sight. There were only the diggers and crew left and they were eating lunch. I felt badly and apologized to the men for being late. I went to the side of the grave and looked down and the vault lid was already in place. I didn’t know what else to do, so I started to play. The workers put down their lunches and began to gather around. I played out my heart and soul for this man with no family and friends. I played like I’ve never played before for this homeless man. And as I played ‘Amazing Grace,’ the workers began to weep. They wept, I wept, we all wept together. When I finished I packed up my bagpipes and started for my car. Though my head hung low, my heart was full. As I opened the door to my car, I heard one of the workers say, “I never seen nothin’ like that before, and I’ve been putting in septic tanks for twenty years.”

What’s that have to do with my point?  When you do the right thing, your heart is full.

And … I thought it was a funny joke, and if you can’t laugh at a funny joke, I think you have a problem.

Joy is supposed to be a part of the Christian life.


Some gold prospectors had discovered an exceptionally rich mine. One of them said, “Hey, we’ve got it made as long as we don’t tell anybody else before we stake our claims.” So they each vowed to keep the secret.

Because they had to have more tools and provisions, they headed for town. After buying all the supplies they needed, they hurried back to the mine site. But they weren’t alone. A crowd of people followed them because their discovery was written all over their faces.

What’s written all over your face?

:12 This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.

Earlier, Jesus had called this a “new commandment”.

(Jn 13:34–35 NKJV) —34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Now, in context, Jesus makes this His primary commandment. The issue is about what keeps us in His love. Obeying His commandments keeps us in His love.

His commandment is that we love one another.

(1 Jn 3:16 NKJV) By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.

(1 Jn 4:12 NKJV) No one has seen God at any time. If we love one another, God abides in us, and His love has been perfected in us.

How has He loved us? What’s the measure of His love?

Perhaps it means that we send nice cards to one another.

Perhaps it means to send flowers to one another.

:13 Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

:13 lifepsuche – breath; the breath of life; life; the soul

:13 friendsphilos – friend, to be friendly to one, wish him well

:14 You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.

:14 friendsphilos – friend, to be friendly to one, wish him well

:14 commandentellomai – to order, command to be done, enjoin

:15 No longer do I call you servants, for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.

:15 servantsdoulos – a slave; metaph., one who gives himself up to another’s will

There is a sense in which we never stop being “servants” of Jesus.

Over and over again Paul called himself a “servant”.
(Ro 1:1 NKJV) Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ…
Jesus Himself encouraged us to embrace the role of a servant.
(Mk 10:43–44 NKJV) —43 Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant. 44 And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.

Yet here, Jesus shows us that our relationship with Him goes beyond being servants.

He also calls us “friends”

:16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.

:16  I chose you

:16 choose … choseeklegomai (“out” + “to call”) – to pick out, choose, to pick or choose out for one’s self

:16 appointedtithemi – to set, put, place; to establish, ordain

:16 remainmeno – to remain, abide; not to depart; to continue to be present

It’s the word we’ve seen translated several times already as “abide”.



The common practice was for a “disciple” to choose his teacher.
It’s kind of like choosing which college to go to. You do your research and then you apply to the colleges that fit best with what you’re looking for.
But the disciples didn’t pick Jesus. He picked them.
God has chosen us as well.
Some people get weird when it comes to God’s choices.
Personally, I’m glad I’ve been chosen.

I remember going through Jr. High School with the worst softball batting average in history. I never hit a softball through my entire lunchtime one-pitch softball career.

It eventually got to the point where I was always the last one picked, the one that each team was trying to make the other team take.

I love the idea that God has chosen me.
The story is told that as Napoleon was talking to a group of his high-ranking officers, his horse, standing nearby, spooked and bolted. A quick-thinking private, observing the scene, pursued the runaway on his own steed, and was able to return Napoleon’s horse safely. “Well done, Captain,” said Napoleon upon his return. The private, with eyes as big as saucers, saluted smartly and said, “Yes, sir.”

Then he went immediately to the supply tent, got himself a captain’s uniform, and moved into officer’s quarters. He never said, “I don’t deserve it. I should have worked my way up through the ranks. I need to earn this.” No, he just said, “Yes, sir.”

God has chosen us for a reason, He’s chosen us to bear fruit.
If I understand the passage correctly, at least some of the fruit entails answered prayer.


Fruit and prayer

Again, it seems as if Jesus is possibly equating “fruit” with what happens when we pray.
We saw this correlation last week:
(Jn 15:7–8 NKJV) —7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. 8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.

:17 These things I command you, that you love one another.

:17 commandentellomai – to order, command to be done, enjoin

:15 I have called you friendsphilos – friend, to be friendly to one, wish him well

One of the Greek words for “love” (lovephileo – to love; to like) is based on this word.

It’s a word that can be used to describe the “best man” at a wedding. It’s a word that’s used to describe “a friend at court”. It describes that “inner circle” around a king or emperor. The “friends of the king” would be close to him and know his secrets, but they would also be subject to him and have to obey his commands. It’s possible to be both a “friend” and a “servant”.



I often hear people abuse this concept of being a “friend” of God.
They call God their “buddy”, the “big guy” in the sky.
Pay careful attention to the correct qualities of a “friend”.
Jesus lays out three qualities of friendship in this passage (vs. 15-17)
These might be qualities you could evaluate your own friendships with.
These might be qualities you could evaluate your marriage with.
These might be qualities that you evaluate your relationship with God by.
1) Sacrifice
Friends sacrifice.

(Jn 15:13 NKJV) Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

Friends come first, even to the point of laying down your life for them.

Jesus demonstrated His love for us by laying down His life for us.

We ought to love each other with the same kind of sacrificial love.

In marriage, we see this reflected in God’s command to the husband:

(Eph 5:25 NKJV) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,

Notice the connection between “love” and “sacrifice”.  Look what this man will do to get his wife the best salmon …

PlayBest Salmon” clip

“Endures the worst to bring you the best.”  I like it!

Powerful things happen when we learn to lay down our lives.


An entire nation experienced revival when John Knox prayed, “Lord, give me Scotland, or I die.” But what many people don’t know is what Knox wrote concerning the answer to that prayer. The Lord responded in his heart, saying, “First die, then I’ll give you Scotland.”

Another twist on this comes from Tozer:

Strange as it may seem we often win over our enemies only after we have first been soundly defeated by the Lord Himself. God often conquers our enemies by conquering us.... When God foresees that we must meet a deadly opponent, he assures our victory by bringing us down in humbleness at His own feet. After that, everything is easy.

We Travel an Appointed Way, 14.

“Make this relationship work, or I’m going to die,” we pray. “Die first,” the Lord says, “And we’ll see what happens next”.
How do your friendships measure up to this principle? Are you willing to lay down your life?
2) Unity
(Jn 15:14 NKJV) You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.
Jesus put is in terms of obedience, but I like to think of it more in terms of going the same direction, of having the same heart.
Friends go in the same direction

(Am 3:3 NKJV) Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?

You don’t “obey” your friend because he orders you, you obey him because you are traveling on the same road, going in the same direction.

You obey your friend because you trust him and give him the benefit of the doubt.

In marriage, as in other relationships, you see this reflected in the word “submission”.

We usually think of “submission” as belonging something the wife is responsible for:

(Eph 5:22 NKJV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.

But don’t forget the context. Don’t forget what Paul just wrote to everyone, including husbands:

(Eph 5:21 NKJV) submitting to one another in the fear of God.

Is there a sense of mutual submission in your friendships?  Or are you the one who makes all the decisions?
3) Communicate
(Jn 15:15 NKJV) …for a servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I heard from My Father I have made known to you.
Friends don’t keep secrets from one another.

Abraham was called the “friend of God”.

James tells us that Abraham got this title as God’s friend not just because He believed God, but because He obeyed God as well.

(Jas 2:23b NKJV) …And he was called the friend of God.

God did not keep secrets from Abraham. When God was planning on bringing judgment on Sodom and Gomorrah for their great sin, God let Abraham in on the secret.

(Ge 18:17 NKJV) And the Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am doing,

As a result of God sharing with Abraham, Abraham’s nephew Lot was rescued from the judgment that was going to happen.

In marriage, God’s ideal is that we are completely honest with each other.

(Ge 2:25 NKJV) And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Don’t get caught on the word “naked”. It’s all about being truthful – being open and honest. It’s about not having secrets from one another.

There should not be things in our lives that we say to someone, “Oh, I hope my wife never finds out…”

As friends of God, God has many things to share with us.

Dr. Oswald Sanders used to tell his staff, “Each of us is as close to God as we choose to be.”

We hear much from God about what He is doing and where He wants to lead us as we read and study the Bible.

We receive much from God as we learn to pray and listen to God.

How do your “friendships” match up?
How does your marriage match up?
How does your relationship with God match up?
Are you ready to follow Jesus?  Are you ready to respond to this One who loved you so much that He died for you?