Jesus replied, ‘Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.' John 14:23, NIV
It’s a joy for a gardener to see a thriving plant, laden with beautiful fruit, or flowers, flourishing in his well-kept garden – satisfying evidence of his tender care and hard work; it’s his reward after the many hours spent transforming rough, unused vegetation into a place of beauty, which will delight more hearts than just his own. Sound principles that he’s learnt from others – with a fair amount of trial and error thrown in at the start – are what helps him achieve this; and being teachable makes a difference.
You did know that God is the expert gardener, right? Well, Jesus painted a picture of the beautiful unity and interdependence between himself and his Father in his metaphor of the vine, and the role that each one plays in producing beautiful, lasting fruit in the life of believers. (John 15:1-5)
Jesus saw his Father as the gardener, himself as the “true vine”, and believers in him as the branches. It’s a clear picture: the gardener plants and tends the vine, whose branches produce wholesome fruit. He takes great care in keeping it healthy by breaking off branches that don’t bear fruit, and shaping and pruning it so that the full nourishment benefits the productive parts, ensuring its good growth and abundant fruit.
In our verse today, Jesus speaks about the importance of anyone who loves him obeying his teaching; in part, because it demonstrates that he loves him, but, most importantly, because “[his] Father will love him”, and together they will go to him and make their home with him.
Making a home with someone speaks to a change of attitude, and mutual love and caring, in order to live harmoniously together. Jesus’ teaching produces in us the same cleansing effect as pruning, which is why obedience is vital for us to keep in step and produce good fruit; we cannot produce the lasting fruit in our strength, we need to remain in him.
Jesus is the key to being united with the Father. He said, “I and the Father are one.” (John 10:30) and “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
May we love and obey Jesus, and may, “God, who began this good work in [us]… carry it on until it is finished on the Day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
Prayer: Lord Jesus, with the Father, you epitomise the love and unity that we long for in our lives. Help me not to lose the plot, but to remain in you, be obedient to your teaching and bear rich fruit. Amen