Summary: Jesus explains how to have real joy.
On the night He was betrayed and arrested, Jesus went over His coming arrest one last time with the disciples. He had been teaching them and leading them to this point throughout His ministry, but they had failed to get the point. So now, before it occurs, Jesus rehearses for them again the fact that He would be taken away from them. In chapter 13:33, He told the men that He was going to a place to which they would be unable to follow, and this disturbed them greatly. He said,
“Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say unto you.”
How could this be? How could it be that the man to whom they had given their lives and for whom they had forsaken all was now going away and they would not be able to follow Him?
Jesus quickly began to put their minds at ease in chapter 14 as He explained that He was going to be with the Father and that He would prepare a place there for them and that in time He would return to get them, but for now, they were to remain behind. Near the close of chapter 14, Jesus explained that after He was gone, the Holy Spirit would be sent to be with them. He would teach them and lead them and comfort them. Whether the disciples realized it or not, this Holy Spirit would be a greater blessing to them than the actual physical presence of the Lord, because now He would always be present with them wherever and whenever they labored. They would do even greater works than Jesus had done during His ministry!
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greter works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” (14:12)
No doubt the disciples were still saddened by the news they were receiving that night. They were hearing Jesus, but they weren’t getting how that after He was gone from among them they could still go on and more than that, not be saddened by it. Well Jesus had the answer, and in chapter 15 He uses an ordinary vine, whether it was a grape vine or some other is not relevant. He used this vine and its branches and fruit to illustrate the only way they were going to know the kind of joy and fulfillment that life can bring in Christ. In fact, He says in verse 11 that the things He was saying in verses 1-10 were said in order that His joy might remain in them, and that their joy might be full.
God’s desire has always been and still is today for His children to experience great joy in this life. No doubt all of humanity wants the same thing, and certainly the disciples wanted it, but the problem is that God and man have differing ideas about how that is going to be accomplished. See, the disciple’s idea of experiencing joy had to do with physically enjoying the presence of Christ and having a hands on religion – a religion of touch and feel and see and know. Theirs was the same idea as that of man today. Religion today is still based on touch and feel, and on see and know. It’s about what a man can experience and get out of the deal. It’s the John 6 kind of religion that is great to have so long as bellies are being filled, but is forsaken at the first hint of hardship. That’s so different than God’s idea of religion. God doesn’t really want religion at all, but rather a life of faith and devotion to Him, and if true believers can understand God’s plan for experiencing joy and practice it daily in their lives, then they can and will experience the joy that comes only from above, the joy that satisfies the dry and thirsty soul.