Can You Love Without Borders & Limitations?

Today’s selected reading continues in the New Testament gospel narrative of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ as it was written and recorded by the apostle John. More specifically, today’s passage is found in the fifteenth chapter of this gospel. “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every 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. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide 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. I 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. If 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. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love” (John 15:1-10).

 

            “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you” (John 15:11-16).

 

            “These things I command you, that ye love one another. If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for my name’s sake, because they know not him that sent me. If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father. But this cometh to pass, that the word might be fulfilled that is written in their law, They hated me without a cause” (John 15:17-25).

 

            “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27).

            BEARING FRUIT! LOVING OTHERS! HATED OF THE WORLD! PREPARING FOR THE COMFORTER! When you come to this particular portion of Scripture you will find the continuation of the teaching of Jesus on the night in which He would be betrayed by one of His own. As you approach the opening verse of the fifteenth chapter you will find Jesus and His disciples on the move from the upper room after supper had ended and perhaps making their way to the garden where the events of that night would come to a head. We know that when Jesus spoke the words presented in the fourteenth chapter they were in the upper room where they had celebrated and partaken of the Passover meal. We know that in the thirteenth chapter Jesus and His disciples were present in the upper room where they had celebrated the Passover meal. It would be there in the upper room Jesus would lay aside His garments and gird Himself with a towel. After having girded Himself with a towel Jesus would pour water into a bason and would proceed to wash the feet of the disciples—not only to present Himself as a servant unto them but also to show unto them a pattern and example which they themselves were to be in the world in which they would remain. Perhaps one of the greatest truths that is found within these chapters is the direct link and connection to the disciples and the world around them. In the opening verses of the thirteenth chapter you will find the apostle John writing of Jesus how He loved those who were in the world and loved them unto the end. What makes this all the more intriguing when you take the time to consider it is that not only would Jesus love those who were in the world but those who were in the world would remain within it even after the departure of Jesus.

 

            In the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel we find Jesus preparing His disciples for something beyond His suffering and beyond His death. We know that Jesus would begin teaching His disciples how He must needs be betrayed into the hands of His enemies within religion and how He would suffer many things at the hands of religion. We know that Jesus would teach the disciples how He would be handed over to the Gentiles and sinners who would mock, ridicule and scourge Him before ultimately putting Him to death upon the cross. There is absolutely no denying and mistaking the fact that Jesus did indeed and did in fact prepare and make ready His disciples for His suffering and the death that would ensue as a result. What we find here in this passage of Scripture, however, is Jesus preparing His disciples for something beyond that suffering and the death He would endure. The suffering and death which Jesus would experience would only be the beginning of what would ultimately take place during those days. Scripture makes it perfectly clear that Jesus would be betrayed by one of His own into the hands of religion and how He would suffer many things at the hands of religion. Once religion had worked their own hatred and animosity toward Jesus they would turn Him over into the hands of sinners who would continue and carry out the work against Jesus. It would be at the hands of sinners Jesus would be mocked, scourged, and ridiculed before He would ultimately be crucified and put to death. With this being said, however, we must needs recognize and understand that regardless of how many times Jesus taught His disciples how He must needs suffer many things at the hands of religion and sinners and ultimately be crucified He would rise from death to life on the third day.

 

 

            The more you read the words found within these chapters beginning with the thirteenth chapter the more you get the sense that Jesus was preparing them for something beyond His suffering and death. You cannot read the words found in these chapters and not encounter or come face to face with the tremendous truth that the Lord Jesus was preparing the disciples for something that was entirely and altogether separate from His suffering and death. As you come to these chapters you will find Jesus preparing the disciples for His departure from this world and subsequent return unto His Father who was in heaven. It was indeed true Jesus would prepare His disciples for His suffering and death, however, that suffering and death would only be the beginning of what would come during those days. Jesus would indeed suffer many things at the hands of religion and at the hands of sinners and Jesus would in fact be killed and crucified, however, He would rise from death to life on the third day. What we must needs recognize and understand concerning Jesus rising from death to life on the third day is that it was only the beginning for there would come something else after resurrection. We know that suffering was the door which would lead Jesus unto the death He would die upon the cross and we know that death was itself a door through which Jesus would pass that He might come unto resurrection. Resurrection was in and of itself a door which Jesus would pass through as Jesus would rise from death to life that He might ascend unto the Father who was in heaven. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand it’s that not only would the Father not leave His Son dead and buried in the grave but the Father would receive His Son back unto Himself in His kingdom and glory.

 

            In the final chapter and verses of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John Mark as well as the final verses and chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke you will find the Lord Jesus Christ ascending unto the right hand of His Father who was in heaven. It would be in the final verses of the New Testament gospel written by John Mark we find him describing how Jesus would not only ascend unto heaven but would also be set down at the right hand of the eternal and living God. The final verses of the twenty-fourth chapter of the gospel written by Luke present a similar reality as he would write of Jesus leading His disciples and followers unto the mount called Olivet where He would ascend from among them and be received by the Father in heaven. What’s more is that in the opening chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find Luke once more writing of Jesus’ ascension unto the right hand of the Father in heaven and how while those who walked with and followed Jesus stood there gazing into the heavens two men clothed in white apparel appeared among them and asked of these men of Galilee why they stood staring into the heavens at the departure and ascension of Jesus. These men would go on to declare how in the same manner in which they saw the Lord ascend unto heaven and return unto His Father in heaven so also would He return and come back. Oh that we would recognize and understand this for there is within the ascension of Jesus a mystery concerning His return as these men who appeared unto and among those disciples and followers would declare that in the same manner in which He departed from their midst so also would He return. We must needs acknowledge this for when we speak about the ascension of the Lord Jesus Christ we must understand that there is within that ascension a powerful anticipation and expectation that He is going to return and come again just as He departed from this world.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words found within these chapters and I can’t help but come face to face with the fact that the Lord Jesus would take this final night before He would be betrayed into the hands of His enemies and adversaries to teach His disciples concerning those events which must needs take place. What we must recognize and understand, however, is that in these chapters we find Jesus preparing them for something entirely and altogether different than His suffering and death. Within these chapters we find the Lord Jesus Christ preparing and making ready His disciples for that which would come after the suffering, that which would come after the death and that which would come after the resurrection. On this night the Lord Jesus would prepare His disciples for that which would come after He would rise from death to life on the third day which would indeed be His departure from this world and ascension unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven. It is within these chapters we encounter and come face to face with Jesus preparing and making ready His disciples for His departure from this world and their subsequent abiding and remaining within it. Jesus would make it very clear before and unto his disciples that His time and hour had come—not only for Him to suffer many things at the hands of the religious and sinners before being crucified and rising on the third day but also for His departure from this earth and return unto the Father. Jesus deliberately and intentionally taught His disciples concerning His suffering and death before He would rise from death to life on the third day, however, that would be only the beginning of what would take place thereafter.

 

            We must needs pay close attention to the words found in this portion of Scripture for what we find here is Jesus preparing His disciples for life after His departure and after His return unto His Father who was in heaven. Jesus would indeed prepare His disciples to walk through the suffering He would experience and endure and Jesus would prepare His disciples to walk through His death and crucifixion knowing that despite His suffering and death He would rise from death to life on the third day. It is truly remarkable and astonishing to read the words found within the four gospel narratives for within them we find Jesus preparing the disciples to walk through His suffering and subsequent death knowing that despite the fact He would die and be buried in the grave He would ultimately be raised from death to life on the third day. Jesus prepared His disciples to walk through His suffering and death knowing that He would rise from death to life on the third day and He would prepare His disciples knowing that He would return and come again unto them. Although the time and hour for the departure of Jesus had drawn nigh and Jesus would indeed return unto His Father who was in heaven His departure and ascension would only be the beginning of that which would take place. Jesus would indeed depart from this world and would return unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven, however, His departure and the ascension would have far reaching implications beyond just His ascending unto heaven and sitting down at the right hand of the Father in heaven. Jesus departure from this world would ultimately lead and point to the coming of the Comforter who was the person of the Holy Spirit as well as Jesus’ own return and coming back for them.

 

            In the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel we find the Lord Jesus teaching His disciples how He must needs depart from this world and return unto the Father and how in His Father’s house were mansions. What’s more is that the Lord Jesus would also declare that although He would depart from this earth and would return unto His Father who was in heaven He went to prepare a place for them. If He went away to prepare a place for them He would indeed return and come back for them that where He is there they would be also. There is an intrinsic link and connection between Jesus’ departure from this world and return unto the Father and His return and coming again for there would essentially be an initial return which would come in the form and through the person of the Holy Spirit and a second return and coming back which would be at the time of the end when the trumpet would sound and when He would descend from heaven with a shout and with the voice of an archangel as He would come back in the glory of His Father and with His holy angels. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous fact that the Lord Jesus’ departure from this world would indeed be the catalyst that would point to His coming unto them through the person of the Holy Spirit and His coming again at the time of the end. Oh dear reader we must needs understand the tremendous truth surrounding the departure of the Lord Jesus for His departure would have two distinct elements to it—namely, its pointing to Jesus coming back and coming unto them in the person of the Holy Spirit and His coming back and returning at the end of the age in the glory of His Father with all His holy angels.

 

            I have previously written how there have been countless students and teachers of the scripture who have taught and believed that when Jesus returns towards the end of the age to gather together the death in Christ and those who are alive and remain unto Himself in the clouds that this is “the second coming” of the Lord Jesus Christ. The truth of the matter, however, is that this simply is not the case as I do not believe that Jesus’ return towards the end of the age is His second coming for He would come back and return prior to and before that coming and return. It is as you read the words found in the fourteenth chapter that you will find and discover the Lord Jesus Christ coming back and coming unto His disciples a second time prior to and before He would ever return towards the end of the age. As you read the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament gospel you will find time and time again Jesus emphatically declaring unto His disciples that He would come again unto them and that He would not leave them comfortless. Although Jesus would indeed depart from them and return unto His Father who was in heaven He would come unto them. Oh pause for a moment and consider just how incredibly important and significant these words and this thought truly is for although Jesus would in fact depart from this world and return unto the right hand of His Father who was in heaven He would come again unto them. What a truly awesome and powerful truth this is when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the fact that although Jesus would indeed depart from this world and return unto His Father who was in heaven He would come again unto them and He would again for them. Oh that we would recognize and understand the difference between coming again and coming back for His disciples.

 

            The more I read the words found within these chapters the more I am brought face to face with the fact that there were essentially different phases and elements to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. We know there was the initial coming of Jesus unto the earth when He would take upon Himself the form of human flesh that He might dwell and abide with us. We know that the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us here in the earth where we are which the apostle John made perfectly clear in the opening verses of the first chapter of this gospel. We know the words which the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews wrote and how they described Jesus as taking upon Himself the seed of Abraham that He might dwell among His own here within the earth. During His first coming the Lord Jesus would take upon Himself the form of human flesh that He might dwell and abide with us. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this for it helps us to understand the second and third phase of Jesus’ coming unto the earth. Oh there is absolutely denying the fact that Jesus initially came in the form of human flesh that He might dwell among and abide with us. Although Jesus would come unto us the first time in the form of human flesh that He might dwell with us He was bound by the limitations of that physical frame and form as He could only be in one place at a single time and was bound by the same elements of the flesh which we face—namely, hurt, pain, hunger, suffering, wounds, bleeding, and the like. Jesus would indeed come in the flesh that He might dwell among us in that flesh but He would also come in the flesh that He might suffer in the flesh and that within and through the flesh He might destroy sin upon the cross through death as well as in the grave before being raised from death to life on the third day.

 

            With the understanding that the Lord Jesus Christ initially came in the form of human flesh that He might dwell with us we have great need to understand that Jesus would come back a second time in the form of the Holy Spirit. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for it draws and calls our attention to the tremendous fact that Jesus would initially come unto us in the form of human flesh that He might dwell with us while He would come again in the form of the Holy Spirit that he might dwell within us. Jesus’ taking upon Himself the form of human flesh that He might dwell with us was only the beginning for after His departure from this world and return unto the right hand of His Father who was in heaven He would come again unto His own in the form of the person of the Holy Spirit that He might dwell within them. Oh what an incredible transition would take place Jesus’ initial coming in the flesh that He might dwell among us and His coming in the form of the Holy Spirit that He might dwell within us. In all reality it would be Jesus’ initial coming in the form of human flesh that He might dwell with us and His second coming in the form of the Holy Spirit that He might dwell within us that ultimately prepares us for His third coming. It would be this third coming of the Lord Jesus that He would not come in the form of human flesh and would not come in the form of the Holy Spirit but would come in the glory of His Father who was in heaven. Oh there would indeed and there would in fact be a third coming of the Lord Jesus Christ when He would come in the glory of His Father with His holy angels that He might gather together His own unto Himself that where He is there they might be as well. Jesus’ initial coming in the form of human flesh would be that Jesus might dwell with us; Jesus’ second coming in the form of the person of the Holy Spirit would be that He might dwell within us; Jesus’ third coming in the glory of His Father would be that we might dwell with Him where He is with the Father.

 

            Having said all of this we must acknowledge and understand that within these chapters we find the Lord Jesus preparing and making ready His disciples for His departure from this earth and His return unto the Father in heaven. With this understanding we must come face to face with the fact that Jesus would depart from this world and would leave His disciples and followers behind in His absence. There was coming a time when the Lord Jesus would indeed depart from this world and would return unto His Father who was in heaven and the disciples needed to be prepared and made ready for that time when it did in fact come. There is something truly remarkable and astonishing about this particular truth when you take the time to think about it as it calls and draws our attention to the fact that the Lord Jesus would in fact depart from this world and would return unto the right hand of His Father who was in heaven. With the understanding that Jesus would depart and return unto His Father who was in heaven there would be an incredible responsibility that would be present among those whom He would leave behind in the wake of His departure. [Oh there is something quite interesting about the concept of those which were left behind for there would essentially be two different and two distinct “left behinds.” There would be the initial leaving behind of those who remained within and upon the earth after Jesus departed unto the right hand of the Father in heaven and there would be the second left behind which would take place after Jesus would gather together unto Himself the dead in Christ who would rise from their graves and those which were alive and remained that they might both collectively and corporately meet Him in the air].

 

            I am sitting here right now thinking about and considering the words which are found within these chapters and I am confronted with the fact that Jesus would depart from this world and would return unto His Father who was in heaven and as a direct result of this He would leave His disciples and followers behind. Forty days after Jesus was raised from death to life He would lead them unto the mount called Olivet where He would ascend into heaven as He would be parted from them and from their gaze. Much like Elijah and Elisha were separated at the Jordan River as Elijah was taken up into heaven by a whirlwind and a chariot of fire so also would Jesus be parted from them and ascend into heaven unto the right hand of the Father. If there is one thing we must needs understand concerning the departure and ascension of Jesus it’s that it would carry with it a tremendous responsibility and burden that would be intrinsically linked and connected to it. Jesus would indeed leave and depart from this world and would return unto His Father who was in heaven and His disciples and followers would be left behind within and upon the earth in the wake of His absence. With this knowledge and understanding that the Lord Jesus would depart from this world and return unto His Father who was in heaven we must needs understand that the disciples and followers of the Lord Jesus would be left behind here upon the earth as a witness and testimony unto the world. We know that in the final verses of the twenty-eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew Jesus declared unto His disciples how all authority in heaven and on earth was given unto them and that He therefore sent them forth as witnesses unto Him teaching and baptizing men in the name of Jesus in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Galilee and Samaria. We know from the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts Jesus declared unto His disciples that they would be His witnesses after being endowed with power from on high and would be witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria and unto the uttermost parts of the earth.

 

            With all of this being said we must needs recognize that within these chapters we find Jesus teaching and preparing His disciples for how they ought to live in His absence. The more you read the words found in this passage of Scripture the more you will find an incredible truth that Jesus did indeed prepare His disciples and followers for His departure from this world, however, directly linked to that departure would be a pattern and example for how they ought to live. We know that in the thirteenth chapter Jesus laid aside His garments and took up the towel as He filled a bason with water and washed the feet of His disciples. We know that after He had washed the feet of His disciples He would declare unto them that they ought to go and do likewise in the earth unto those before and around them. Scripture is entirely and altogether unclear—even in the book of Acts—whether or not the disciples ever did wash the feet others, however, we must recognize that at the very heart of washing the feet of others is humility and the desire and willingness to be a servant unto others. At the very heart of washing the feet of others is a willingness to make oneself a servant to others as we esteem them greater and better than ourselves. At the very heart of Jesus washing the feet of His disciples was a powerful example of how they ought to live and conduct themselves in the world in which they would remain and abide after His departure. There is absolutely no doubt about it for Jesus’ washing the feet of the disciples was the means whereby He would instruct His disciples concerning humility and how they ought to go and do likewise. Oh how there is something truly remarkable and powerful found in this passage of Scripture for at the very beginning of Jesus preparing His disciples for His departure we find Him washing their feet as an example they ought to follow among those whom they would encounter in His absence.

 

            Oh the more I think about and consider this the more I can’t help but see two distinct and two different calls to action—both which are found in Scripture and yet how one deals with the disciples who were left behind in the absence of Jesus and those who are present in this generation who are nearly two thousand years removed from the suffering, the death, the resurrection and ascension of the Lord Jesus. Within these chapters we find the Lord Jesus preparing and making ready the disciples for His departure and how they ought to live in light of His absence. In all reality we must read these chapters with the understanding that Jesus was teaching His disciples how they ought to live in light of His absence as they would remain upon the earth while He Himself was set down at the right hand of His Father who was in heaven. On the one hand we find Jesus teaching His disciples concerning His departure from this world and subsequent return unto the right hand of the Father and their being left behind within and upon the earth. What we find within these chapters is powerful teaching from Jesus Himself as He taught and prepared His disciples for how they ought to live in light of His absence. With this being said we must needs understand that while the disciples of those days were taught and prepared for how to live in light of the absence of Jesus we ourselves must recognize that we are conducting ourselves in light of Jesus’ return. For the disciples they were living in light of Jesus’ departure from this world and their witness was in direct connection with the testimony of Jesus which was manifested among them in the earth and how they ought to live their lives in the world in which they were left behind. The disciples were taught and prepared by Jesus to live and conduct themselves in light of the absence of the Lord Jesus from this world as He would depart from this earth and would return unto His Father who was in heaven.

 

            When you come to the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John you will find Jesus speaking of and referring to Himself as the true vine and how His Father was the husbandman. Jesus would go on to declare unto His disciples how every branch in Him which did not bear fruit the Father would take away and would be purged by the Father that it might bring forth more fruit. What we find within the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John is Jesus calling His disciples to perhaps one of the greatest witnesses they could have in the earth—namely, bearing and bringing forth fruit. It is absolutely necessary that we recognize and understand this particular truth for when the Lord Jesus departed from this world He would do so leaving His disciples with the understanding that they must needs not only remain in the earth but must also abide in Him. The purpose for their abiding in Him was because without and apart from Him they could do nothing—and not only this but apart from and without Him they would be entirely and altogether unable to bear fruit in the midst of the earth. When Jesus departed from this world and would return unto the right hand of the Father who was in heaven He would leave His disciples and followers behind as fruit bearers—those who would bring and bear much fruit within the earth. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the fact that the Lord Jesus would indeed leave His disciples behind within the earth that they might bear and bring forth fruit in a world that is watching and observing their every move. Consider if you will the words which are found in the seventh chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and the words which contain Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:

 

            “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them” (Matthew 7:15-20).

 

            We must needs recognize and pay attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for when we think and speak about how we ought to live in light of the absence of the Lord Jesus from this world we must understand that we have been called to be fruit bearers and those who have a witness of fruit within this generation. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we are fruit bearers in this present world and society in which we are living. What’s more is that we must acknowledge and admit that at the end of the day we are fruit bearers and yet the question is not whether or not we are bearing fruit but rather what type of fruit we are bearing. In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus emphatically declared and spoke of good trees bringing forth good fruit and bad trees bringing forth evil fruit, thus concluding the tremendous truth that there are two different types of trees which are present within the earth. With this being said we must also understand that Jesus would go on to declare that an bad tree cannot bring forth good fruit and a good tree cannot produce and bring forth evil fruit. What’s more is the Lord Jesus would go on to declare that by their fruits men would be known—a reality which we must recognize and understand goes both ways. It is indeed true that by our fruits we are and will be known and yet the question we must needs ask ourselves is what type of tree we are and what type of fruit we are bearing and bringing forth. WHAT TYPE OF TREE ARE YOU? WHAT TYPE OF FRUIT ARE YOU BRINGING FORTH? Oh there is not a doubt in my mind that we have a great need within our hearts and our lives to truly be honest with ourselves and acknowledge what type of tree we are in this world and within this culture and society. Oh it is with this in mind I can’t help but remember the words which are found in the gospels where Jesus would heal a man who was blind and would initially touch him and ask what he saw. Initially after the first touch the man would declare that he saw men which looked like trees. It would be upon hearing this Jesus would touch this man a second time and ask him what he saw to which he responded by declaring how he saw everything clearly.

 

            The more I read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture the more I am brought face to face with the awesome and powerful truth that each and every one of us are indeed and are in fact trees within the culture, the society and generation in which we are living. Each and every one of us are trees in this world and yet the question is not only what type of tree we are but also what type of fruit we are producing and bringing forth. When speaking unto and teaching His disciples on the night in which He was betrayed the Lord Jesus would declare unto them that every branch in Him which did not bear fruit the Father would take away while every branch in Him which bore fruit His Father would purge it that it might bring forth more fruit. Oh this concept of bearing and bringing forth fruit is at the very heart of Jesus’ parable concerning the seed and the sower for within this parable there were four different types of soil which the farmer had sown seed into. There was the wayside in which the farmer sowed seed which represented those who heard the word of the kingdom and because they did not understand it the enemy and adversary would take and snatch away that which they heard. There was the stony ground in which seed was sown which represents those who heard the word and received it with joy, however, because they had no depth and root in themselves they would be offended when persecution emerged and rose because of the word of the kingdom. There was also the thorny ground which represented those who heard and received the word of the kingdom and yet the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choked the life out of the word. Despite all of this there would be a fourth type of soil which would be the good soil—that which would represent those who heard the word of the kingdom and who would bring forth fruit some thirty-fold, some sixty-fold and some an hundred-fold.

 

            If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading these words it’s that we have not only been called to be those trees which are planted by the rivers of living water which bear and bring forth fruit in their season but we have also been called to be fruit bearers within our generation. Oh there is a fundamental difference between being an evil tree which produces and brings forth evil fruit and a good tree which brings forth good fruit. The question we must needs ask ourselves is not only what type of tree we are in this generation but what type of fruit we are bearing. Jesus made absolutely no apology when He declared that by our fruit we would be known and He would also declare that it would be by our fruit men would know that we are His disciples. As you continue reading the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John you will find Jesus declaring unto the disciples how they were clean through the word which He had spoken unto them. Having said this Jesus would instruct the disciples to abide in Him and He would abide in them. As the branch cannot bear fruit in and of itself except it abide in the vine so also could the disciples not bear fruit in and of itself. Oh if there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s the tremendous need we have within our lives to abide within the Lord Jesus Christ. It was Jesus who made it perfectly clear that we cannot have any hope of bearing fruit in and of ourselves and that in and of ourselves we can do nothing. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that we have been called to abide in Jesus for without and apart Him we can do nothing.

 

            As I sit here today thinking about the words found in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but think about the fact that there are far too many men and women who are attempting to do things without and apart from the Lord Jesus Christ. There are those who would like to think and believe they can do things in and of themselves and yet the truth of the matter is that when Jesus taught and prepared His disciples for His departure He instructed and commanded them to abide with Him and abide in Him. With this being said we have a great need to understand that the Lord Jesus Christ emphatically declared unto His disciples that they were being left behind in His absence as trees which would be planted and in Him that they might bear and bring forth fruit in the world. Jesus would leave His disciples behind in this world with the command and instruction that they abide in Him as well as with the promise that if they abode in Him they would bear and bring forth much fruit. Jesus declared unto His disciples that those who abode in Him and He in them were the same ones who brought forth much fruit. Oh that we would recognize and understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for in addition to the command to abide in the Lord Jesus Christ there is also the declaration and understanding that without and apart from Him we can do nothing. Oh if there is one thing we have great need to understand and acknowledge when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that we have been called to abide in Jesus for without and apart from Him we can do nothing. What’s more is that we have not only been called to abide in Jesus but we have also been given the promise of Jesus abiding in us—a truth which highlights and underscores even further the declaration Jesus made concerning His coming unto His disciples through and in the person of the Holy Spirit.

 

            At the very heart of this call and command to abide in Jesus and to bear and bring forth much fruit we must needs recognize that the ultimate fruit which we have been called to bear and bring forth is the fruit of love. Jesus would spend a considerable amount of time speaking unto His disciples of their need to abide in Him and He abiding in them for the two were intrinsically linked together. Jesus declared unto His disciples that if a man did not abide in him he would be cast forth as a branch and is withered. Such a one would be gathered together with others and would be cast into the fire where they would be burned. What’s more is Jesus would go on to declare unto His disciples that if they abode in Him and His words abode in them they would ask what they will and it would be done unto them. Not only this but Jesus would also declare that His Father was glorified in that they bore and brought forth much fruit. In addition to this we must recognize and understand that the Father is glorified in our bringing forth much fruit and men would know that we are disciples of Jesus through our bringing forth much fruit. Oh that we would recognize and understand this within our hearts and minds for when we speak about this reality and concept of bearing and bringing forth fruit we have a great need to acknowledge that bearing fruit not only glorifies the eternal God and Father but it also demonstrates and shows that we are disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is absolutely true that we cannot bear fruit in and of ourselves so if and/or when we bring forth fruit it can only come as a direct result of our abiding in the Lord Jesus. It is through our union with and our abiding in the Lord Jesus we are able to bear and bring forth fruit in the midst of the world that men might know and understand that we are the disciples of Jesus.

 

            If you continue reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter and come face to face with the fact that the Lord Jesus would transition from language surrounding fruit and bringing forth fruit to that of the very heart of the witness of His disciples who would remain in the world in His absence. Beginning with the ninth verse of this chapter we find Jesus declaring how as the Father had loved Him, so also did He love them. Not only this but Jesus would go on to command and instruct His disciples to continue in His love—that love which He demonstrated toward them as He not only loved those who were in the world whom He called out of the world but loved them unto the end. In the thirteenth chapter of this gospel we find the Lord Jesus calling the disciples to a lifestyle of humility as He called and commanded them to go and do likewise as they washed the feet of others. How absolutely challenging it is to read the words found in these passages of Scripture and to come face to face with the call to humility—and not only the call to humility but also the call to love. As you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will find and encounter the awesome truth that we as the disciples of the Lord Jesus have not only been called to continue in the love which Christ demonstrated toward us but we must also love one another even as He had loved us. It would be this commandment to love others and to love one another that would be found in the thirteenth chapter of this same gospel narrative for you will find Jesus declaring unto His disciples how He gave unto them a new commandment—namely that they love one another as He had loved them. What’s more is that Jesus would go on to declare that it would be by their love one for another that men would know that they were His disciples, thus demonstrating the powerful witness love has within the world before and around us. Oh there is something to be said about the witness and testimony of love and how we are willing to love one another even as the Lord Jesus loved us.

 

            It is this concept of loving one another which must needs be recognized and understood when seeking to read the New Testament gospels for within them we find different elements of this love which we are to have in the earth. We know that the greatest commandment is to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength. We know that the second commandment is likened unto the first—namely, that we love our neighbor as ourselves. We also know that the disciples and followers of Jesus had heard how it was said how we are to love our neighbors and hate our enemies, however, Jesus gave a new commandment that we love our enemies, that we bless those who curse us, that we pray for those who despitefully use us, and that we pray for those who persecute us. Oh within the four gospels we find the clarion call to love the LORD our God with all our heart, with all our soul and with all our strength and we also find the commandment to love our neighbors as ourselves. In addition to this we must needs recognize that we have also been called to love our enemies—despite and regardless of what they have done to us and how they have treated us. It is in fact true we have been called to love our neighbors as ourselves, however, we must needs recognize that Jesus drew no distinction between loving our neighbors and loving our enemies for with the same measure we love our neighbors we are to love our enemies. The same way we love and are willing to give unto our neighbors so also are we to give unto our enemies and those who wrong and commit offenses and trespasses against us. Oh with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the fifth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:

 

            “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Matthew 5:10-12).

 

            “Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemniy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; that ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? Do not even the publicans the same? And if ye salute your brethren only, what do ye more than others? Do not even the publicans so? Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect” (Matthew 5:38-48).

 

            It is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to the words which are found in this portion of Scripture as it calls and draws our attention to love which has no borders, no boundaries and no limitations. We would like to think and even believe that love does indeed and does in have limitations and boundaries and yet the truth of the matter is that we have never called to exercise and manifest a love without borders and boundaries within our culture and society. With this being said we have a great need to recognize the tremendous truth that when Jesus spoke of love He commanded His disciples and followers to love their enemies just as much and just as well as they would love their neighbors. It is incredibly easy to love our neighbor and to hate our enemies and yet the truth of the matter is that within the four gospel narratives you will find and encounter Jesus both commanding us to love our neighbors which even the Law of Moses commanded and loving our enemies. It is this concept of loving our enemies and those who curse us, those who hate us, those who despitefully use and persecute us which we must needs recognize and understand when reading the words found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel written by the apostle John. Here within this chapter you will find our Lord commanding and instructing us to love one another even as Jesus has loved us and yet directly linked to that love is being hated by others. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not see this incredible dichotomy which existed between loving one another and being hated by the world. What’s more is that within these chapters we find Jesus declaring unto his disciples how He was departing from this world and how they would remain within it being given the instruction and commandment to love one another. With that being said, however, we also find Jesus speaking unto his disciples concerning hatred toward and hatred of them in the world in which they were remaining and abiding.

 

            If there is one thing I can’t help but be absolutely gripped and captivated by it’s that while it was indeed true that Jesus left His disciples in the world with the command to love one another even as He had loved them He also promised them they would be hated by the world around them. Pause for a moment and consider the fact that the Lord left His disciples in a world that would and was going to hate them and left them with the command to love one another even as He had loved them. Stop for a moment and consider the fact that our Lord would leave His disciples and followers in the midst of the world that would hate them for His name’s sake and would leave them with the command to love their enemies. Not only this but this would build on the commands Jesus gave when He instructed them to bless those who cursed them, to do good unto those who reviled them, and to pray for those who persecuted and despitefully used them. I have always found it incredibly challenging to know that while it is indeed true we have been left in this world with the command to love our neighbors, to love one another as Jesus has loved us and to love our enemies we are commanded to do so being promised that we would be hated of all men for the sake of the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. As you read the words found in this passage of Scripture you will encounter the tremendous truth that almost synonymous and intrinsically linked to our loving one another and our loving our neighbors and enemies we are told how the world is going to hate us. In all reality it almost does not seem to fit or even to make sense that we were given the command to love one another and to even love our enemies without reservation, without hesitation and without limitations. It seems to go against everything in our human nature to love in a world that is guaranteed to hate us for the sake of the name of Jesus the Christ. Not only this but it seems to go against everything in our nature to pray for those who persecute us, to bless those who curse us and to do good to those who despitefully use and revile us for such seems entirely and altogether contrary to who we are and what we are like.

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to the awesome and powerful truth that Jesus would command His disciples to love one another as He had loved them and yet that commandment was for a world that would hate them. The command to love one another as He had loved them was present in a world that would wrong them, sin against them, trespass against them, and even betray, mock and ridicule them. Jesus would give the ultimate model and expression of what this love would look like as He emphatically declared how greater love had no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends. These words would be intrinsically linked and connected to the words Jesus would speak unto Nicodemus who came to Him by night inquiring of Him and asking question. It would be during this nighttime encounter Jesus would declare unto this Pharisee how God so loved the world that He gave us only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him would not perish but have everlasting life. Not only this but in the tenth chapter of this New Testament gospel we find the Lord Jesus speaking of Himself as the shepherd who would indeed and would in fact lay down his life for the sheep. Jesus would leave a command for His disciples that they love one another and He would provide them with the model and pattern for what that love would look like—namely that they would lay down their lives for their friends.

 

            What we find within the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by John is a powerful commandment given by Jesus to love one another and how the fulfillment and exercising of that command would demonstrate unto the world that we are indeed His disciples. That which makes this truly challenging is when you consider the fact that love doesn’t always take place in comfort and convenience nor does it take place in those places we would like to think it would. Love doesn’t always take place in those places which are easy for us to demonstrate and manifest it for it is commanded in a world which Jesus promised would hate us. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not encounter and come face to face with the awesome truth that love was commanded in the midst of discomfort, in the midst of inconvenience and in the midst of difficulty and struggle. Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another and declared that it would be by that love men would know that they were His disciples and yet there would be something else that would mark them as His disciples—namely that they would be hated by the world. Jesus commanded His disciples to love one another even as he had loved them and loved them to the end and yet that love would be manifested in a world that would not always reciprocate that love. Oh we must needs understand this particular truth for we tend to think and believe that love is guaranteed to be reciprocated within our lives and that men and women will respond favorably to our love for and toward them. The truth of the matter, however, is that while we have been commanded to love one another we should not, we ought not and we must not expect nor even demand that love be returned. There would be those who would love with condition and love with a sense of entitlement feeling as though the love they display ought to be reciprocated toward them. What the gospels present to us, however, is that love isn’t always guaranteed to be reciprocated within our lives and that in some cases instead of receiving love we will receive hatred toward others because of the name of the Lord Jesus.

 

            CAN YOU LOVE WHEN IT HURTS? CAN YOU LOVE EVEN WHEN YOU’RE HATED? I feel it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture as the words presented here call and invite us to a life where we can love without limits and love without borders. What’s more. Is that this particular passage invites us to enter into the place where we must ask ourselves whether or not we can love even when it hurts and even when we are hated. It is incredibly easy to love when it is being reciprocated and returned but can we truly love even when it is not being returned and when is being returned is hatred, is venom, is malice, and the like. Are you one who is truly able to love others even as Christ loved you, to love others fully and completely unto the end, and to love those who might persecute, despitefully use you, mock, revile and ridicule you. Are you able to truly love without borders and without limitations and love fully, love freely and love completely. There is a great need within our hearts and our lives to recognize and understand whether or not we are those who are willing to love without a sense of entitlement and to do good unto others even when they repay the goodness we displayed with evil. It was Jesus Himself who instructed us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, however, we must needs acknowledge and understand that we were not instructed to do good unto others based on what they have done unto us or what we hope they will do unto us. There is this tendency to do unto others as they have done unto us and living in such a place is incredibly dangerous for it places a strong and powerful sense of entitlement within our hearts and minds. Oh that we would be men and women who would love without l imitations, love without anticipation and expectations of receiving anything in return, and that we would love even when it hurts and when it is hard.

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