The Root and Fruit of Discipleship
We have seen in the first five lessons that following Jesus is not for the half-hearted or nominal pretenders. Discipleship is hard. It’s costly. In fact, in our own strength, it’s impossible. But the good news is that we’re not called to follow Jesus in our own strength. Instead, we need a supernatural power, one that is in abundant supply for those “branches” that remain attached to the “vine.”
1. Read John 15:1-17 twice. Write down any key ideas or phrases that catch your attention. What are the key principles you believe we ought to draw from this text? Why did you choose those principles?
2. Read verse 1. What did Jesus mean by referring to himself as the “true vine?”
Describe what a “false vine” might look like.
What did Jesus mean by referring to our heavenly Father as the “vinedresser?”
3. A major theme of this text is the necessity of Christ’s followers to bear fruit. What does the vinedresser do with those branches that do not bear fruit, according to verse 2? Why?
Why does a gardener have to prune the flowers and plants in his or her garden? In light of that observation, describe what you think it means to be pruned by God?
4. What does it mean to bear fruit? (See Matthew 5-7; Matthew 28:16-20; Galatians 5:16-26; Ephesians 4:17-5:1; Colossians 3:1-17; and Romans 12 for help.)
5. Jesus plainly taught that a branch cannot bear fruit on its own. What dynamic must be operative for a branch to bear fruit (vv. 4-5)?
Every day there are unbelievers, (branches not connected to the vine), who exhibit admirable character and do good deeds. What did Jesus mean, therefore, by his statement in verse 5, that apart from him we can do nothing? (See Hebrews 11:6; 1 Corinthians 10:31)
We can agree that this would be a very unpopular message in our culture today. How would you explain, to an unbelieving friend, the necessity of being “in Christ,” as a key to one’s fruit-bearing being pleasing to God?
6. What happens to branches that do not abide in Christ (v. 6)? Why?
What do you think “fire” is a symbol for (v. 6)? (See Isaiah 30:27; Matthew 3:12; 18:8-9; 25:41.)
7. Read verse 7. What does it mean to “abide” or “remain” in Christ?
What does it mean for his words to “abide” or “remain” in you?
Think about the first five lessons of this study, regarding the cost of discipleship, the danger of half-hearted commitment, etc. If a person really desires to follow Christ and bear fruit for him and his Kingdom, why is it essential for them to abide in Christ and for his words to abide in them?
8. If a person is abiding in Christ and his words are abiding in them, how will their prayer-life be transformed (v. 7)?
9. According to Jesus, in verse 8, what brings glory to our heavenly Father?
What does this prove?
10. The ESV Study Bible says, “mutual love between believers and Christ is another element of this ‘abiding’ relationship.” How is our obedience to Christ’s commands an expression of our love for him (v. 10)? (See also: John 15:14; 14:15, 21, 23, 24)
Was Jesus teaching works-righteousness here? That is, do we have to obey his commands in order to earn a right relationship with him? If not, what was he teaching?
11. Jesus commanded the disciples to love one another as he loved them. This love reflects the love between God the Father and Jesus the Son. Read verses 12-17. How did Jesus describe what this love looks like?
How would Jesus later show his disciples what this love looked like? (See Philippians 2:1-11 and John 3:16)
12. Based on the Scripture in this lesson, would you say that bearing fruit for Christ and his Kingdom is optional for those who claim to follow Christ? Explain.
13. On a scale from 1-10, (1, being very poor, and 10, being very well), grade how you’re doing abiding in Christ and letting his words abide in you (see Colossians 3:16).
Practically speaking, what does abiding in Christ and his words abiding in you, look like in your life?
How can you grow in this indispensable area of discipleship? In the space below, write down your plan and when you will put it into practice.
14. What are three practical ways love can be expressed among disciples of Jesus Christ?
Name one disciple of Christ you know, and one way you will express the love of Christ to them this week?