In this message we come to John 15. We should not consider this chapter separate from chapters fourteen and sixteen because all three chapters are one message given by the Lord Jesus before He was betrayed and arrested. There is no doubt that chapter fifteen is the continuation of chapter fourteen, where we see the mutual abode, the mingling of divinity with humanity. Once we understand John 14, we are prepared to consider John 15.
Most Christians are very familiar with John 15, a wonderful chapter about the Lord as the vine and us as the branches. Apparently, it is easy for us to understand this chapter because we know what a vine is, what branches are, and what the relationship between a vine and its branches is. However, John 15 is possibly the deepest chapter in the New Testament. If we are to properly and adequately understand the deeper meaning of this chapter, we must understand the central thought of God and the intention of the Holy Spirit in writing the Gospel of John. This Gospel reveals that the Lord Jesus is the expression of God, that He is the very God expressed in the form of man. He was expressed in this way that we might take Him as our life and our everything. His intention is to work Himself into us until He becomes our life and everything. Chapters three through eleven reveal that He can meet all of our needs by becoming our life. Chapter twelve shows us the issue and multiplication of His being life to us. Chapter thirteen indicates the way to maintain our fellowship in life. Then chapter fourteen unfolds to us that He can work Himself into us by His death and resurrection and by His being transfigured from the flesh into the Spirit. By the time of chapter fourteen He has wrought Himself into us through the Spirit of reality. Now He is our life and our essence. He is living within us, waiting for us to cooperate with Him that He might reveal and manifest Himself to us more and more. The Father also comes in with Him to visit us, stay with us, and make His abode with us (14:23). In other words, the Father in Him and through the Spirit will be absolutely mingled with us. The Father in the Son and through the Spirit will be our abode, and we shall be the abode of the Triune God. In this way, the Triune God and we, we and the Triune God, will be built together, that is, God and man, man and God, will be built up together as one. This wonderful oneness is the central thought of God. The ultimate intention of God in the whole universe is that the Father in the Son as the Spirit might be wrought into us and mingled with us until the Triune God and humanity become a mutual abode. We have seen this in our study of chapter fourteen. This is the background of chapter fifteen.
The revelation of God in chapter fifteen is meaningful, profound, and all-inclusive. The thought and meaning of this revelation are very deep. The first thing to be pointed out in this chapter is that the Triune God is clearly revealed. God the Father is revealed as the husbandman who is related to a husbandry, a plantation, or a harvest. A husbandman is the source, the originator, the founder, and the planter of a husbandry. He is one who engages in an enterprise. The whole universe is the enterprise of the Father. In other words, the Father has a divine plan, an eternal purpose, and He wants to accomplish the intention behind His purpose. This is what is meant by the Father’s being the husbandman. He is the husbandman of the vineyard who plans to carry out a certain purpose. He is the source, the founder, and the first one to accomplish certain things according to His mind and purpose. Furthermore, as the details found in other parts of the Scriptures disclose, it is the Father’s pleasure that all that He is, all the riches of His divine nature, and all the fullness of the Godhead be the riches of the vine. All that the Father is, all that the Father has, all the riches of the Father’s divine life, and all the fullness of the Godhead are in the vine. This is all for the vine which is the embodiment of it all. The vine is the embodiment of the fullness of the riches of divinity and of the Godhead. All that God the Father is and has is embodied in the vine.
This chapter not only reveals the Father but also the Son as the vine. As the vine, the Son is the center. The whole universe is pictured as a vineyard, and centered in this vineyard is the vine who is the Son. God the Son is the center. Everything is centralized in Him. He, as the vine, is the center of the vineyard. We have seen that God the Father is the source and founder, and now we see that God the Son is the center. Everything that God the Father is and has is for the center, is embodied in the center, and is expressed through the center. God the Father is expressed, manifested, and glorified through the vine. So God the Father is the source, and God the Son is the center.
Finally, in the last two verses of this chapter the Spirit is revealed. Here God the Spirit is called the Spirit of reality. This means that the Spirit is the reality. Whatever God the Father is in the Son and whatever He has centralized in the Son will be realized by the Spirit. All that God the Father is in the Son is a reality in God the Spirit. Everything centralized in the Son is revealed, testified, witnessed, and realized by the Spirit of reality. Therefore, God the Father is the source, the founder; God the Son is the center, the embodiment, and the manifestation; and God the Spirit is the realization, the reality. This is exceedingly profound and deep.
Moreover, in this revelation there is not only the Triune God but also the Body of Christ. The Body of Christ is the church. In this revelation the church is likened to the branches of the vine. The branches of a vine are simply the body of the vine. If you take away the branches from the vine, the vine will have no body. Without the branches the vine has nothing remaining except the root and the stem. Hence, the branches are the body of the vine.
If we look to the Lord, we shall see what a wonderful and mysterious matter this is. All that God the Father is and has is centralized and embodied in God the Son, and all of this is realized in God the Spirit. Now all of this has been wrought into us and will be expressed and testified through us. John 15 has four very important items: God the Father as the source and founder, God the Son as the center and manifestation, God the Spirit as the reality and realization, and the branches as the Body, the corporate expression. The branches are very vital, for they express what God is in Christ as the Spirit. Without the branches there can be no full expression. The full expression depends upon the branches, the Body, for what God is in the Son and as the Spirit will be expressed by the branches, the Body. All that God the Father is and has is in the Son, all that the Son is and has is realized as the Spirit, and all that the Spirit has is in the Body, in the church, in us. In other words, God the Father as the source is embodied in God the Son as the center who is now realized as God the Spirit as the reality. All that the Spirit has is expressed in us, that is, in the branches, the church. The Triune God is expressed, manifested, and glorified in the church.
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