Peace and comfort are gifts given to Christians through the Holy Spirit. They are meant to help us get through difficulty and struggle. This does not have to be a situation that is causing pain, maybe you simply doubt in Jesus’ saving power or even in the existence of God. Jesus continues to teach his disciples, but giving them a further plea to stay connected with him.
As Jesus continues to teach about what will happen after he is gone, he says to the disciples, “I am the true vine” (John 15:1, NASB). Jesus is speaking to the agricultural knowledge of the disciples. They know, the only way for a grape vine to produce fruit is for it to remain attached to the main vine that is attached to the roots. He tells the disciples, in order for them to be able to continue in this life, after he is gone, they must remain joined with him through the Holy Spirit. He also tells them that as they become un-fruitful, they will be removed. This is not meant to be destructive, as Jesus compares to a gardener pruning a plant so it can become more fruitful. If the disciples are unable to remain in Jesus, they will (unfortunately) be cast aside.
“The first lesson in Christ’s school is self-denial”
— Matthew Henry
Jesus then moves to make another request of the disciples, “This is my commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you” (John15:12, NASB). The fruit that Jesus expects to come from the disciples joining in with him, is love. It is not obedience to a particular list of rules, or even the making of more disciples. Jesus expects the disciples to love one another, just has he loves them. He has not shown what it means to love like this yet, but again speaks to his coming crucifixion. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13, NASB). The disciples are to love each other so much, they would gladly sacrifice themselves for each other.
“To love someone means to see him as God intended him.”
— Fyodor Dostoevsky
The relationship between Jesus and the world is a complicated one. He said earlier in this gospel, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (John 3:16-17, NASB). Jesus did not come to judge the world, but to teach it how to live according to God. Jesus recognizes that the world will stand against him, and knows what is about to come upon him. He tells the disciples, “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you” (John 15:18, NASB). He knows they will have to fight through persecution simply because they are his followers. He reminds them that the world has done whatever will be done to them, to him first.
“Never did the church so much prosper and so truly thrive as when she was baptized in the blood. The ship of the church never sails so gloriously along as when the bloody spray of her martyrs falls on her deck. We must suffer and we must die, if we are ever to conquer this world for Christ.”
— Charles Spurgeon
The disciples have no idea what is coming their way. Jesus is about to be crucified. They will doubt him before his resurrection. The will even have to face persecution because of their belief. These are reason anyone may choose to give up their faith. Just because you do not have all the answers does not mean your faith is silly or unfounded. Jesus reminds his followers that even through the struggles, they are to remain in him; to be connected to him in spite of what is happening in the world. In his humanity, Jesus knew the fear of uncertainty. It is far too easy for us to believe that any shade of doubt means that we are wrong. Jesus tells his followers, “stay connected with me, and I will stay connected with you.”
Are you connecting to Jesus? You may not be in the midst of struggle. You may not have any doubt. But a day may be coming where that is no longer the truth. If you do not stay connected to Christ, how can you hope to overcome it. Jesus promised his followers a comforter in the previous chapter and reminds us to stay connected, so he can connect with us. What does that connection look like? Some examples are: go to church, pray, read a book, attend a Bible Study, meditate on Scripture, talk to a Christian friend. It does not matter how, but find a connection back to Jesus if you do not have (at least) one already.