What is your favorite fruit? What is your least favorite?
SPECIAL NOTE: Read John 15:1-17 together as a group. This can be all at once or the group can read the relevant sections of the chapter based on the story or section being discussed.
1. Paul’s sermon was about the metaphor of the church as branches.
-How does this metaphor help you understand the church and its purpose?
2. There are three types of branches described in this passage: 1) Those bearing no fruit. 2) Those bearing some fruit 3) Those bearing much fruit.
-In which category would you place yourself, and why?
3. Jesus identifies five characteristics of those who are his disciples. Take time to consider your answers to the following questions.
-Am I abiding in Christ?
-Do I know how to let the Word abide in me, and am I choosing to do that?
-Is my connection with Christ producing a life characterized by prayer?
-Does my life bring glory to God?
-Is there fruit?
4. Paul reminded us that instead of commanding us to bear fruit, Jesus commands us to remain or abide in him. He said fruit is the evidence that you are abiding. Fruit is not the goal. Fruit is the proof.
-What does it mean to abide or remain in Christ?
-How can you practically focus on abiding rather than solely striving to produce fruit in your Christian walk?
-Do Jesus’ words lessen or increase the burden that comes from following him?
-How can you relate the fruit of the Spirit from Galatians 5:22-23 to the idea of abiding in Jesus?
5. Take a few minutes to reflect on John 15:7–8.
-What significance do you see in the progression?
6. John 15:8 says that our fruit & demonstration that we are Jesus’ disciples glorifies God.
-How does it glorify God?
7. The Father is the gardener. He cuts off branches that bear no fruit while pruning those that do bear fruit to make them even more fruitful.
-What are possible meanings for “bearing fruit”?
-What does the metaphor of pruning convey about God's relationship with His followers?
-How can you relate the idea of pruning to your personal spiritual journey or experiences?
-In what ways have you experienced the Father’s “pruning,” and what were the results?
-What “fruit” in your relationship with God is being cultivated most lately?
8. John 15:11 gives us a wonderful reason for why Jesus gives this teaching to his disciples and to us.
-How does this reason expand your conception of Jesus and what it means to follow him?
-When was the last time you experienced joy as described here?
9. John 15:12 is Jesus’ command to love others as he has loved.
-Is this possible? Why? Why not?
-What would it mean for you to love others more like Jesus loved His disciples and you?
-How do you fall short or need to grow in this area?
-How would you like Jesus’ love to affect who you are and what you do?
10. Jesus said he no longer calls his disciples “servants” but instead calls them “friends.”
-What difference does it make that we can be called Jesus’ friends?
-What kind of friend are you to Jesus?
-Why is it hard to be Jesus’ friend?
-Why would Jesus put a contingency statement on being his friend (i.e., IF you…)?
-How have you, are you, or can you be a better friend to Jesus beginning today?
11. How can the group support each other in the journey of abiding in Christ, bearing true fruit, and being his obedient friend?
12. Reflect on & discuss the following from Father Joseph Ponessa & Laurie Watson Manhardt in their commentary on the Gospel of John: “The disciple bears fruit. For apart from Jesus you can do nothing. How many times do Christians get in over their heads trying to please God and produce results relying on their own strengths, their own talents and ideas, and their own efforts? God’s folly is greater than man’s wisdom. How often do people ask God to bless their plans, rather than asking God what He has planned? Have you ever prayed, assuming that your will and God’s will were synonymous? The believer abiding in Christ and obeying the commandments experiences answered prayer, love, and joy. The fruitful Christian demonstrates love, joy, and holiness that cause others to want to know Jesus and live in Him. Jesus commands us to love one another and bear fruit, that the Father will be glorified. Sometimes it may be easier to love the stranger on the other side of the world than the person in one’s own family, workplace, or community. Nonetheless, Jesus doesn’t suggest or encourage us to love; Jesus commands us to love one another.”
Use the quote above & your group’s discussion to guide & direct your prayers.