Summary: Jesus guarantees his disciples will receive everything needed for spiritual fruit.
If we’re going to understand John 15:7 it’s important that we keep what we’ve learned so far in the forefront of our minds. Jesus says, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” So, here we have a blank check from Christ to do with as we wish. “Ask what you want, and it shall be done unto you.” And millions of people question their faith every year when they ask and don’t receive. Maybe it’s their own faults for not believing enough or maybe they’ve got the wrong intentions and need to work on that until they get it right. They’ll know they’ve finally got it right, of course, when they finally get what they’ve asked God to do. Or maybe for some people the fault lies with God. Perhaps he’s not as powerful as we thought, or worse, maybe he’s not even there.
How do we answer such criticisms, and how are we to protect ourselves? Well, the answer, as always, is found in seeing that all of Scripture is a revelation of Jesus Christ, and it’s found by keeping the verse within the context first intended by the author.
First, I want you to notice that this verse forms a bookend with 14:13: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” We discussed this verse some weeks back, and the point is still the same. The disciples are with Jesus in the private room just before his crucifixion. Judas has already left, and Jesus prepares the rest for life after his departure. It’s a source of comfort for them to know that God’s work on earth will continue despite the fact that Jesus won’t be here bodily.
He is leaving, and there’s nothing they can do to stop it, but they shouldn’t want to stop it because this is the plan from the beginning. Christ has come to obey the Father in spilling his own blood, and that blood will be the redemption of all God’s people. Moreover, when he leaves, he won’t leave them comfortless: the Holy Spirit that was promised by Joel (2:26; Acts 2:17) will soon be on the scene, and the time of the New Covenant will begin.
But this is going to be a tough transition for them because he won’t be seen by the world. Even the disciples won’t literally be able to lay eyes on him, but “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (Jn. 14:23). The disciples will “see” him when the rest of the world can’t because he lives within them and they live in him!
So, you see, this is a passage about comfort. Christ won’t be on earth bodily, but his ministry continues, and that’s made evident by the disciples’ obedience: “If a man love me, he will keep my words.” This is the evidence of the King’s kingdom on earth: his subjects obey him.
And even here we see the revelation of Jesus Christ rather than the works of men. Believers will live simply because Christ himself lives, and they will keep the commandments because they love Christ, and because they are loved by the Father (v. 19-21). The Holy Spirit will come to teach and remind them about everything Jesus said, and he’ll empower them to walk in a worthy manner and to obey what’s required.
Their ability to keep his commandments is God’s power and their motivation is love: he first loved us while we were sinners, and died for us, so now we love him because of what he’s done in our hearts. It’s an issue of fruit, and that brings us to chapter 15:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (Jn. 15:1-6).
The illustration he chooses is that of a vine and its branches. We’ve already covered these verses, and we talked last week about the vine imagery in the Old Testament. Spiritual fruit is the evidence of his presence. He proves his rule through the righteous conduct of those who are his; they produce whatever their vine produces because of union: