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Do Whatever He Tells You: Week 8 – John 15:12-27

Jul 23, 2023
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Do Whatever He Tells You: Week 8 John 15:12-27

The best way to demonstrate true love is not through romance, but through sacrifice. John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” We probably won’t be asked to physically die for someone. More often, we will be asked to give up our lives in small ways, day by day rather than one grand gesture. Jesus Christ was our substitutionary atonement. He took the full punishment that we deserved for our sins as a substitute in our place. All other benefits of the atonement find their anchor in this truth. We see substitutionary atonement in the OT sacrifices. People laid hands on the animal to signify that the animal functioned as a substitute for the person, and their sin was transferred to the animal. The violent death of the animal signifies the penalty human beings deserve for their sin. This practice was especially evident on the Day of Atonement (Lev 16) where once a year the sins of Israel were atoned for as the High Priest went into the Most Holy Place and put the blood of the sacrifice on the Mercy Seat over the Ark of the Covenant. Forgiveness only comes through the violent death and shed blood. But we see that animal sacrifices do not and cannot finally atone for sin (Heb 9:1-10:18), and such sacrifices point to the atoning death of Jesus which secures complete and permanent forgiveness of sins. (Rom 3:23-25; 2 Cor 5:21) In the OT, only Abraham and Moses were called “friends of God”, but in John 15:14-15 Jesus calls His disciples, and us, His friends. He goes on to say, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.” Jesus was a rabbi, and like other rabbis, had disciples, called talmidim. The practice of the day was that the gifted students would approach a rabbi and ask, “May I follow you?”. The rabbi either accepted the student as a talmid or sent him away to pursue a trade. Jesus broke this pattern when He chose His own talmidim. As He asked His disciples to follow Him, they knew without a doubt that their Rabbi believed in them. A talmid followed the rabbi everywhere, often without knowing or asking where he was going. He rarely left his rabbi’s side for fear that he would miss a teachable moment. And he watched the rabbi’s every move, noting how he acted and thought about a variety of situations. Talmid trusted their rabbi completely. They worked passionately to incorporate the rabbi’s actions and words into their lives. The disciples’ deepest desire was to follow their rabbi so closely that they would start to think and act like him. Jesus wanted His disciples to “bear fruit” that would last. He told them that would only happen if they abided in Him. When we abide, we begin to look like Jesus and our heart and our desires align with His. Our fruit glorifies God, and gives us purpose in this world. (Eph 4:11-12). Jesus raps up this portion by reiterating, “These things I command you, so that you will love one another.” He is preparing them to be a light shining into darkness. Do you shine in the darkness of this world? Are you bearing fruit that will last? Are you laying down your life for your friends?