Sermon Notes 5-6-2018

Pericope: John 15:9-17
Personal Commentary:

9 “As the Father loved me, I too have loved you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. 12 This is my commandment: love each other just as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than to give up one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I don’t call you servants any longer, because servants don’t know what their master is doing. Instead, I call you friends, because everything I heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You didn’t choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you could go and produce fruit and so that your fruit could last. As a result, whatever you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. 17 I give you these commandments so that you can love each other.
9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 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. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.

12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants[a] any longer, because the servant[b] does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: 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 servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruitfruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. 17 This is my command: Love each other.

  • Today's passage comes after John's account of the last supper.  13:31 says they got up and left the location of the last supper, but we don't know where they are at this point.  They don't appear in the garden until chapter 18.
  • This passage is in the middle of Jesus' farewell discourse.  The time is coming when Jesus will be arrested and he is giving some of his final commands and teachings.  The primary teaching, of course, is to keep Jesus' life and teaching close to the heart and to love each other.  
  • In today's pericope, Jesus talks about remaining in his love.  This comes immediately after Jesus talks about the vines and branches in 15:1-8.  V. 4, "Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  A branch can't produce fruit by itself but must remain in the vine.  Likewise, you can't produce fruit unless you remain in me."  
  • Our pericope today seems to be an explanation or another way of saying what he was trying to get across through the vine and fruit analogy.
  • Each verse fulfills the one before it.  Verse 10 fulfills verse 9, 11 fulfills 10, and so forth.
  • V. 9 - Love begins with God, we must remain in, or abide in, God's love.  
  • V. 10 - We remain in Christ's love by keeping his commands.  When we do what he told us, we are staying true to he calls us to be.
  • V. 11 - It isn't that Jesus is filled with Joy when we do these things.  Jesus is already filled with Joy, and by remaining in him, by following in his way, we too will be filled with joy.  Our happiness is incomplete without the joy of God in our hearts.  We will only be complete when we live out the will of God in our lives.
  • V. 12 - When we love each other, we will fulfill the requirement of verse 11.
  • V. 13 - Self-sacrifice for others, is the greatest example of love.
  • VV. 14-15 - We are now called friends.  Is Jesus' argument from an authoritarian leadership style perspective.  Masters/bosses/leaders, in this style, they don't share what they are thinking.  They tell them what to do and they do it.  Jesus is no longer withholding his reasons.  He is sharing with us what is required of a faithful life, and now it is up to us.  What might be a good analogy for this?
    • As parents, we must be authoritarian to our children while they are at home and we are responsible for them.  Once they move out of the house, they are on their own.  We hope we have given them the tools they need.  It is at this point that parents and children can become friends.  
  • V. 16 - Jesus chose us.  This relationship begins and ends with God.
  • V. 16 - When we remain in God, and God in us, God will give us what we ask for, because what we ask for will be in line with God's will and not our own.  
  • V. 17 - Reiteration of the command to love.

The New Interpreters Bible

Gail R. O'Day, “The Gospel of John: Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections,” in The New Interpreter's Bible: General Articles and Introduction, Commentary, and Reflections for Each Book of the Bible, Including the Apocryphaldeuterocanonical Books (Nashville: Abingdon Press, ©1994-2004), 9:491-865.

  • "John 14:1-16:33 is the centerpiece of the three units that compose the Johannine account of the farewell meal (13:1-38; 14:1-16:33; 17:1-26)." pg. 735
  • "Jesus' teachings in John 14-16 do indeed draw out themes that are introduced by the foot washing and the dialogues that follow it." pg. 735
  • "In John 14-16, Jesus explains the significance of his departure to his disciples and points them toward the life that they will lead after his hour."  pg. 735
  • O'Day also notes the glaring contradiction found in 14:31 which has Jesus telling his disciples that they need to leave this place, yet 15:1 just continue as though they never left.  Many theories have been put forth, including the one I put forth above about their conversation continuing on the way to the garden, but two others are mentioned by O'Day.  pp. 735-736
    • One theory suggests that there were two separate farewell discourses put together as though they are one.  The call to depart in 14:31 is viewed as the end of the first discourse and 15:1 the beginning of the next.
    • Another theory suggests that over the years, the order to the stories in John has been put together in the wrong order.  Theologian Rudolph Bultmann has suggested an alternative order to John which he believes is how John was originally put together.
  • O'Day also suggests that maybe we put too much emphasis on one short verse 14:31. pg. 736
  • "The Farewell Discourse can be divided into four broad units: (1) 14:1-31, "I will not leave you orphaned"; (2) 15:1-17, "Abide in my love"; (3) 15:18-16:4a, "I have chosen you out of the world"; (4):16:4b-33, "It is to your advantage that I go away." pg. 738
  • "Verse 12 is a direct restatement of the love commandment of 13:34 and sets the theme for all that follows." pg. 758
  • "Verse 13 is the most explicit statement in the Gospel of what it means to love as Jesus loves."  pg. 758
  • "the English noun 'friend' does not fully convey the presence of love that undergirds the Johannine notion of friendship." pg. 758
  • The disciples are called friends because Jesus hasn't withheld anything from them about the nature of God and involved them in the intimacy Jesus shares with the Father. pg. 758
  • "Jesus reminds the disciples (including the readers) that their place with him is the result of his initiative, not theirs; relationship with Jesus is ultimately a result of God's grace (cf. 6:37-39, 44)." pg. 759
  • "Jesus describes the disciples' works as 'fruit that will last,' suggesting that their works, too, will attest to the abiding presence of and union with God and Jesus." pg. 759

Commentary on John 15:9-17
by Meda Stamper

  • "The commandment-keeping emerges from abiding love and is an expression of it."
  • "So the joy offered in John 15:11 and John 17:13 is a deep and enduring creative gladness that, even when it seems most unlikely, will inevitably come to Jesus’ own. And they are perhaps also joy-bearers and midwives of joy for the world into which they, like Jesus, have been born of God (John 1:1-18) and will be sent."
  • "Jesus’ own are no longer slaves but friends, not on the basis of anything that they have done for him but on the basis of what he has done for them. He has made known to them everything that he has heard from the Father."

Easter 6B: On Being Chosen
by DJL

  • ""it occurs to me that perhaps that’s because happiness isn’t, finally, something you can pursue and catch and possess in the first place. Rather, perhaps happiness is the by-product of worthy activities."
  • "Perhaps happiness is the feeling you get from a job well done, or from achieving a goal, or from being honest and trustworthy, or from helping someone out."
  • "In this sense, happiness is less a commodity to be pursued and possessed than it is a by-product of noble efforts or, even more, simply a gift to be received."
  • "I regularly remind myself of just how many times I actually do indeed have a choice about how I view something, react to something, focus on one thing or another, knowing that each of these things can be an instance of “choosing joy” over frustration, anger, hopelessness, and more."
  • "Keep in mind that this conversation takes place on the eve of Jesus’ crucifixion."
  • "But that action will not only witness to Jesus’ love for the disciples, it will also leave them feeling bereft, alone, and frightened. Which is why Jesus both urges them to abide in him and reminds them that what is more important is that they know he will abide in them. And so he tells them that they did not choose him; rather, he chose them."
  • "knowing that God has chosen us, loves us, and will use us gives us the courage to face the challenges and renews our strength to do something about them."

Choose Joy
by: Karoline Lewis

  • "Joy is elusive. True joy is hard to come by and seems simply impossible when one starts down the road of real life."
  • "joy is hard. It takes work. It takes effort. It takes intention."
  • "Joy is that indescribable sense when you find yourself experiencing abundant grace."

John 15:9-17
by: Scott Hoezee

  • "There is far too much moralistic preaching afoot in the land as it is, we tell students, so resist the trend of preaching what my friend Meg Jenista called “shouldy” sermons that always end with long “To Do” lists that tend to prop up the latent legalism that altogether too many people harbor in their hearts already as it is. Too often people tend to believe that what gets them in good with God—or at least what keeps them in good with God—is the sum total of all their morally good deeds."
  • "It’s the “if” part that nettles. Is salvation conditional after all? Is it up to us? If we don’t behave well, will Jesus diss us? Will he stop being our friend? Stop loving us? Obviously a good deal of what makes the gospel GOOD news would cease to be so good if, as a matter of fact, we are constantly being evaluated and graded by God."
  • "Above all we need to be students of God’s Word so that the words of Jesus can abide in us."
  • "Christ is indeed our true vine but a vine without branches produces no grapes. It is our holy calling to produce fruit for God–fruit which can be turned into the sweet ambrosia of a love distilled, decanted, and delighted over to the complete joy of all God’s people."
  • "It is clear here that “love” means service, means action, means a life of self-sacrifice for the benefit of others."
  • "But, of course, you have to be pretty favorably inclined toward others to do that. You maybe don’t need to feel love a la romantic love or the kinds of fierce feelings of affection a parent has for a child but you have to BE and FEEL something very positive to extend yourself into the lives of others (even all the way to the extreme point of giving up your very life for those others)."
  • "You can’t come up to some surly, self-centered narcissist of a human being and COMMAND that he start living like Mother Teresa or something. No, Jesus’ words in John 15 make sense only if, as a matter of fact, you are already a branch living off the true vine that just is Jesus."

Abiding Love
by: William Brosend

Brosend, William. "Abiding love." The Christian Century 117, no. 16 (May 17, 2000): 565. ATLASerials, Religion Collection, EBSCOhost (accessed May 1, 2018).

  • "So when I read, "Every branch that bears fruit [God] prunes to make it bear more fruit," I think of my wife, whose approach to pruning is to "whack it down to the ground and see what happens." Sometimes it works out, sometimes not."
  • "the language of abiding is at the Gospels core."
  • "the Gospel of John is very much about abiding—where Jesus abides and how we who believe in Jesus shall abide."
  • "while I take Jesus to be talking about being present to the presence of God in our midst wherever and everywhere we are."
  • "...practice the presence of God, to abide with Christ."
  • "Learning to be who you are where you are, seems a prerequisite to being present to anyone else, including Christ."
  • "I imagine myself "reclining" like the beloved disciple, sitting with Jesus and leaning on his shoulder, abiding in his love."
  • "Love is not burdensome? What does John know that we don't? Maybe this: we tend to treat love as a kind of goal-oriented affection."
  • "We do not love as a means to bring about some holy end. We love because God first loved us."


  • You may have noticed some differences in the translations. 
    • V. 15 - CEB and NRSV say, "I heard from my Father," but the NIV says, "I learned." Do you think there is a difference between hearing and learning?  It would seem in this context at least, that Jesus is saying, "the knowledge I have from my Father, I have given you."
    • V. 17 - The biggest difference between these three appears here.  CEB and NRSV seem to suggest that Jesus is saying, "I have told you all these things in order for you to love one another."  But NIV seems to dismiss everything that came before and just gives the direct command, "Love each other."  One is a cause and effect, the other is a direct command.  Not much of a difference in meaning, the point being that we love each other, but none-the-less a difference in how the translation was approached.
  • Servants don't know what their master is doing.  But as Jesus notes in verse 15, this is no longer the case, how does this make us friends rather than servants?
  • Thinking about joy from verse 11, what are some of the things that bring us joy?
  • There is a danger of works righteousness in this passage, especially when you look at the if passages.
  • Karoline Lewis talks about how Joy is elusive. It's not always easy to find.  What do you think about that?  Do you think this is true?  
  • Hoezee talks about in order to show love to others, the kind where we lay down our lives for them, you almost have to feel some good towards them, not necessarily warm fuzzies, but something in order to be able to help.  Do you agree?  Why?  How might we feel something for those we maybe don't like or have negative feelings for?

You'll only receive email when they publish something new.

More from Pastor Curt
All posts