Walking and Talking with Jesus

Bible Book: John  15
Subject: Fellowship with Jesus; Fruitful Christians; Witnessing
Introduction

When we close chapter 14, we discover Jesus telling his disciples that it is time for them to leave the Upper Room. They were going to the Garden of Gethsemane, so when we read chapter 15 we are reading a discourse of our Lord while walking with His disciples from the Upper Room to the Garden of Gethsemane. In this discussion with His disciples, Jesus reveals His plan for their lives after He has departed and the Holy Spirit has been sent.

In the Garden of Eden, God walked with Adam in the cool of the day. There was something special about that activity, thus the Lord made sure it was recorded in His Word.

It is important to walk with the Lord. In Micah 6:8 we read, "He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?" Perhaps pride is one of the evils which keep God's people from walking humbly with the Lord.

We read in Colossians 2:6 we note, "Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him..." Everyone who receives Christ is called to walk with Him in the same manner, attitude and commitment that was made when we received Him into our lives.

In John 8:12 Jesus said that those who walk with Him do not walk in darkness. In other words, walking with the Lord ensures that we have God's light to guide us in every decision.

In Romans 8:1 Paul reminds us to walk not in the flesh but to walk after the Spirit. We were given a new life when we came to Jesus. He placed His Spirit in our lives, thus we are to walk after the Spirit of God and not after the old life in the flesh.

When Jesus said that we are to take up the cross and follow Him, He spoke of walking in His footsteps. A believer is to always and ever to be walking and talking with Jesus.

There are three principles that Jesus gave His disciples that must be discerned by every believer who desires to grow, develop, live and serve as a Christian must in this world. Also, we cannot find true peace in the Christian life if we are walking at a distance from our Lord. In essence, Jesus tells us how to live in this world till He takes us to the next world. He tells us how to endure, enjoy and enhance this life till He calls us home to live with Him in heaven. He tells us that we must walk (abide) in Him.

I. Abiding Fruitfulness 1-8

In the first 8 verses of John 15, we discover the concept and principle of abiding fruitfulness. Jesus shares with His disciples that they must abide in Him in order to produce fruit. Throughout the upper room discourse, the disciples found our Lord's words to be abstract and confusing (John 13:22ff; 14:5-8; 22; 16:17ff). To make His teaching clear and concrete, He used the analogy of a vine, a figure familiar to the Jewish mind. He does this to teach:

A. The Relationship Described

In the Old Testament the nation of Israel was often likened to a vine. God was the vine keeper and Israel was to produce fruit from the branches. Being connected to God meant by natural reason that Israel was to produce fruit acceptable to the Owner of the vineyard.

In Psalm 80:8 the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt is described in terms of a vine being transplanted from the soil of Egypt to that of Canaan. God had placed His people in a land where they were to be more fruitful.

In Isaiah 5 the nation of Israel is likened to a vineyard that does not produce fruit. Sadly, we read that God had kept His vineyard properly but the branches had not produced appropriate fruit.

In Jeremiah 2:21 Israel is described as a vine that is sending out degenerate shoots.

In other words, over and over again Israel was referred to as a vine. The vine had become a symbol of the nation Israel. It was found on Jewish coins during the Maccabean period, and in the days when our Lord walked upon the earth there was a huge filigree of a vine adorning the entrance of the Temple of Herod. The filigree has been estimated to have been worth $12 million dollars. The image and idea of the vine was something very familiar to the disciples who were walking with Jesus the night they left the Upper Room.

Jesus used this illustration to show His disciples that He was the root of the new Nation, the citizenship of heaven was in Him and all those who abide in Him are part of that new citizenship. He wanted them to understand that everyone in Him had an abiding place.

It is a Christian responsibility to "abide" in Christ. John is fond of this word abide and used it over fifty times in his writings; eleven times in this chapter alone. The underlying meaning of this thought is that of believing – having faith in Jesus and remaining true to Him.

The idea of the vine and abiding in it is also presented in a negative way by John. In chapter five of John’s gospel we read:

“And you do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent" (John 5:38).

He also teaches this principle in a positive way in chapter six:

"He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him" (John 6:56).

It is impossible to bring forth fruit unless we are abiding in Christ. This requires believing that He is Lord and acting toward Him in a manner consistent with that belief. Paul called himself a “bond-slave” of Christ. Paul was not talking about being forcefully subjected to slavery but of being so thankful and respectful of Jesus that one gladly submitted himself to the reign and rule of Christ. Following the outline of Paul’s amazing ministry reveals just how fruitful a Christian can be when he or she abides (believes in and walks with) Jesus fully and completely!

But, notice something else about abiding fruitfulness:

B. The Recognition Desired

Christ used the idea of the vine and branches because he wanted us to recognize that without Him we can do nothing. It is not that we may do a little, or may do something, but without Him we can do nothing. So we must abide in Him. We must remember that our belief is in Him and in His sacrifice for us. The songwriter penned:

"There is power, power, wonder working power, In the precious blood of the Lamb." (Lewis E. Jones, 1899)

Indeed, there is power in the blood of Christ, not only to save but to sustain and bless us continually.

There is a portion of this passage that needs to be explained. In verse 2 we read that the Father cuts off every branch that does not bear fruit. Actually, the word in this passage means to "move or to lift up". The idea here is of a branch that has moved downward into the soil and cannot bear fruit. The Gardner lifts it up, shakes it off, and moves it away from the dirt so that it can bear fruit. The branch is propped up so that it can have room to be fruitful. God may have to dig some of us up out of the dirt of this world, shakesus real good and prop us up in order to have us bear the fruit He knows is possible and expected from us. But He will not throw us away. Only that which does not abide (does not have its life in the vine) will be thrown into the fire.

S.D. Gordon tells of a time when a cherry tree was damaged by a storm. A limb was broken from the tree, but it had just enough wood attached to keep it from falling off. He left it to see what would happen. To his surprise, the broken limb bore fruit! However, the broken limb did not bear as much fruit as those limbs which were fully attached. The closer (the more attached) we are to Christ, the more fruit we will produce That is why we must walk and talk with Jesus – we must be fully attached to Him hour by hour in order to bring forth fruit in our lives.

So, Jesus walked with His disciples and talked with them about how important it is that they never drift away from close fellowship with Him. Without this close fellowship, they had no chance of bearing fruit – living a meaningful and purposeful life. But, there is more to His walk and conversation with Him. Note the:

II. Affectionate Friendliness 9-17

Jesus, furthermore, tells us that He has loved us and expects us to love each other. He has called us His friends and expects us to treat each other as friends. This friendship is not like the world's friendship because it is not based on mere earthly agreements, but is rather based on our union in Christ's love. It is an affectionate friendship based on our relationship with Him - our reception of His love in our lives.

A. The Origin of this Affection

An amazing comment by Jesus occurs in these verses:

"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." (John 15:15)

Jesus called all those who are His disciples "friends". Friends share on a level not experienced by mere acquaintances or strangers. You tell a friend things never shared with someone you hardly know. In the same way, Jesus walks and talks with us. He reveals the scripture to us through His Spirit - the world cannot possibly understand the Bible without a relationship with Christ. He will not reveal these things to those who are not His "friends". A friend of Jesus is someone who has turned from the world and sin, and has trusted Him as Lord and Savior. When that occurs, the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts and we are to share that love with one another.

After all, this affection began in Him. He is love. He gave us His love even when we did not deserve it. He has loved us and we are to love each other. Of course we love the people we love to love, but what about loving the people we don’t love to love? You were very unlovable when Jesus called you to salvation. You and I were rebels against God and dead in our sins. Yet, Jesus loved us and came to bring us life, forgiveness and total redemption. Please understand that the kind of love the Lord is calling us to express is the exact type of love He showed toward us. We are to love as He loves!

B. The Operation of this Affection

This love works its way out in our affection for each other. When we love as He loves, we find two results: First, we produce fruit; Second, we experience joy. Both benefits are a direct result of receiving and giving love.

Hudson Taylor said: "If your father and mother, your sister and brother, if the very cat and dog in the house, are not happier for your being Christian, it is a question whether you really are." That is an interesting quote and thought. If you don’t show the love of Christ in your daily living, do you really know Jesus at all?

Jesus also told the disciples that answered prayer is one of the privileges of abiding in Him. Friends always provide privileges for each other that they do not necessarily give to others. That is one of the effects of friendship. Jesus is our friend. We have privileges because of it. If we fail to act as His friend, can we expect our prayers to be heard and answered?

The company president summoned the sales manager for a momentous conference. "George," he began, "I have decided that you have shown great talent and innate abilities. After looking over all the candidates, I have decided to make you president of my company." The sales manager blushed and gulped. "Wow!" he exclaimed, "Thanks, Dad!"

You see, there are privileges for being in the family! That is also true of being in the family of God. How wonderful that our Lord looks after us, but we have a responsibility to look after each other. He expects us to act toward others as he acts toward us. If we walk and talk with Jesus each day, we will express His love through our lives.

III. Assiduous Faithfulness 18-27

As we believe in Him and abide in Him, we express love to each other; but also, we become witnesses to the world. Christ made it clear in verses 18-27 that this task was not for the timid and doubtful. We are to be arduous and assiduous in our determined effort to share the gospel with others. Our Savior never minced words or promised an easy path in this process. He stated that the world hated Him and we ought to expect the same treatment.

"I'm really worried," a man said to his friend. "Why?" his friend asked. "Well, my wife read The Tale of Two Cities and we had twins. Later she read The Three Musketeers and we had triplets. Now she is reading Birth of a Nation."

Well, my friends, you and I are called to be part of birthing a nation – a holy nation of believers in Jesus Christ. We are to share Jesus with others so that they might have a heavenly citizenship. We are to bring forth fruit and that process calls upon us to be faithful in our witness for Him no matter how we are treated in the process.

I have experienced some incredible witnessing encounters. It has been my privilege to lead many people to Christ, even an entire family to Jesus during one visit as I shared the gospel. But, I have also had the door slammed in face. I have been cursed like a rented mule, as the old saying goes. I have encountered angry people, others who just walked away and a few that wanted to argue. I don’t care who you are, if someone slams a door in your face, it leaves you a bit downhearted. If someone curses you for talking about Jesus, it hurts. But, listen carefully, it doesn’t hurt like the nails driven into the hands of Jesus. It doesn’t sting like the thorns pressed into His brow. It doesn’t repel like the spit that came from the mouths of those who sprayed their evil saliva on the face of our Lord! You are I are to be faithful to share our faith and disregard the treatment we receive. We are to do this with love and kindness, even when we receive rebuke in return.

A. The Hindrance We Face

The task of being a witness is not an easy one. Why? It is not easy because the world finds the gospel very threatening to their own selfish and independent way of life. They hated Jesus, and they will hate us. They put up barriers to our testimonies. This is not strange, this is natural. This is exactly what Jesus said would happen.

I am reminded of a young boy who told his mother, "Mom, I hate school, nobody likes me." She replied, "Come on son, everybody hasn't met you yet!"

In this world, we can be sure that we will face a great resistance to the presentation of the gospel of our Lord. I am convinced that many Christians do not witness because they do not want to be rebuked. They do not want to be embarrassed. Always remember, when such a moment comes to you, the way our Lord must have felt when He was stripped naked and crucified before a howling mob for you! Let us be faithful in our witness for Him as if we are standing with Him at the moment we share Him with others. Witnessing is like introducing Jesus to another person. If we are truly walking and talking with Him, we will never hesitate to introduce Him to anyone at any time.

B. The Helper We Find

Jesus tells us that in the midst of our service and witness He will provide a Helper – the Holy Spirit! He is Christ in us and He will comfort us and encourage us as we serve our Lord faithfully. The Holy Spirit helps us carry out the task of witnessing for Christ.

The word “world” is used 6 times in verses 18-27 in our text today. This speaks of all those in any generation who live in this world without knowing Christ. Jesus told us that the “world” hated Him and it will hate us. Don't find that disturbing, in fact you should find it reassuring when the world speaks evil about you.

I find it interesting that so many people are aghast that decisions are being made in government and in the courts that are contrary to our faith. It seems that some Christians expect the "world" to love them and create a "world" that looks like the Kingdom of God. That is not what Jesus said we ought to expect. In fact, He stated the very opposite! The world will hate us, say evil about us and even deliver some of us up to earthly judgment.

Why does the world hate us?

1. The World Hates us because of Ignorance - they do not know Jesus.

2. The World Hates us because of of Iniquity - they have iniquity in their lives and don't want to give it up or have it pointed out.

We, however, have God’s Spirit with us, helping us to be faithful as we walk and talk with Jesus each day. We are to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh, and as we do that we discover the joy and peace of God - even in a hateful "world".

Conclusion

If we abide (walk and talk) with Him properly, what happens?

1. Our Prayer life becomes effective. See verse 7.

2. Our Heavenly Father is glorified. See verse 8.

3. Our Life is one of love and joy. See verses 9-11.

4. Our Comfort is assured through the Spirit of God. See verses 26-27.

4. Our Testimony will be steadfast. See verse 27.

Many do not have an effective prayer life, a walk that glorifies the Father, a life that reflects the love and joy of Jesus, or a testimony and witness that is steadfast for Christ. The reason is simple – many are not walking and talking with Jesus each day – each hour.

When 20th Century-Fox advertised in the New York papers to fill a vacancy in its sales force, one applicant replied: "I am at present selling furniture at the address below. You may judge my ability as a salesman if you will stop in to see me at any time, pretending that you are interested in buying furniture. When you come in, you can identify me by my red hair. And I will have no way of identifying you. Such salesmanship as I exhibit during your visit, therefore, will be no more than my usual workday approach and not a special effort to impress a prospective employer." From among more than 1,500 applicants, the redhead got the job.

What about us, in our walk with God, can everyone at every moment see beyond question that we are walking and talking with Jesus as a preeminent way of life? Can you and I put an ad in the paper that says, "Come and see me anytime, anywhere and I will not know you are watching me. I assure you that you will find me living like a loving and faithful Christian!"

I don't think I will see that advertisement in a local paper next week. If only it were true that we who are called by His name reflected such a dedicated walk with Him at all times.

I am certain that there is some here today who need to come to Jesus. You don’t know Him, even though you know of Him. You don’t walk with Him because you have never accepted Him as your Lord and Savior. He is calling you today. Call Him Lord in your heart right now. Ask Him to forgive your sin. Ask Him to give you eternal life. Do it right there where you are. He hears you. Then in a moment when we sing, come forward and acknowledge that you have accepted Jesus into your life.

But I am even more certain that there are numbers of us who do know Him who are convicted by the words of Jesus. We need a renewed fellowship with Him. We are saved, but we don’t have that wonderful comfort and joy of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Come now! He longs for you to walk in close fellowship with Him. Let a walk to the front of the church today be a new commitment to walk and talk with Jesus.