John 15, Matthew 3:17

Dave Simpson on living from God's affection rather than for it.

Dave Simpson
Dave Simpson

A passage in scripture that God has been speaking to me about for some time now is John 15.

There is so much more I could write about the passage than this article allows, but there is one key verse that I want to pick out in particular, John 15:9 "As the Father has loved me so have I loved you, now remain in my love". This is Jesus speaking to his disciples and it is a truly remarkable statement. I could, and in fact have, spent many moments dwelling on that verse alone.

To know in my heart that this is what Christ Himself feels about me is a powerful thing. When taken in the context of the surrounding verses it is all the more profound.

In this particular portion of scripture Jesus is at a key point with His disciples and He knows it won't be long before He is to be captured and then crucified.

In John 15 Jesus is telling his disciples how they are to be fruitful in their lives. In verses 1, 2 and 5 He states that He (Christ) is the vine, Father God is the gardener and we (or His disciples) are the branches. With these pictures in mind, in verse 4 He describes how we are to live fruitful lives, "Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me." (John 15:4)

It is obvious when put in such a clear metaphor. No branch can bear any fruit unless it is connected to the life giving vine. I mean, imagine snapping a branch completely off a plant and leaving it on the ground separate from the rest of the plant. It won't bear any fruit and will eventually dry up and die.

This verse struck me so deeply as I knew I often would behave like a disconnected branch. I would strive to be fruitful in my life in order to please God and in some way look to prove myself to Jesus. Despite knowing in my head that I couldn't earn God's affection I knew in my heart that there was a big part of me trying to do exactly that. I was trying to perform for God.

It was a very draining way to live and I knew God was, and if I'm honest still is, calling me to a better way to live.

Going back to verse 9 I pondered how this linked to the surrounding verses and I felt God take me to the early verses in Matthew where it describes Jesus' baptism and to a particularly profound verse. Once Jesus rises out of the waters of baptism it's says; "a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17)

This is the first place that Father God publicly describes His love for Jesus. It is also crucially before Jesus has done anything in His ministry in terms of miracles or works of any kind. In other words Jesus had done nothing to prove Himself or earn the love of God. Father God loved Him completely unconditionally and was "well pleased" with Him as His Son, not simply well pleased with His actions or work.

Now remember back to John 15:9. Jesus says that in the same way as Father God loves Him, so He loves us. He then says we are to remain in His love.

This means Jesus' call to remain in His love is a call to remain in this unconditional love that is not based on our personal successes or performance in life, but rather as His children in whom He is well pleased. His love for us was, is and always will be the most perfect love that we will ever find. It is in remaining in this love that we actually find we bear fruit. Living from His affection rather than for it.

Remaining in the love of God and taking it to a world that so desperately needs it. What could be more fruitful than that? CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.