And being fruitful is a result of praying in accordance with Jesus' word. Jesus is not promising us a Ferrari if we pray for it! Answered prayer is related to being fruitful. As Jesus' word fills our minds, we'll pray in accordance with his will and our prayers will be answered.
A community characterised by love
Several times in this final briefing, Jesus commands the disciples to love one another: 'A new command I give you: love one another...My command is this: love each other as I have loved you... This is my command: love each other.'
He gives this command in the context of telling his disciples what will happen to him and warning them that society around them will hate them, persecute them even, for following him. What will matter when the chips are down, it seems, is the quality of their relationships with each other.
A message for challenging times
We live in challenging times across the world, for this country and indeed, for the church. In times of change, relationships often fray - communities that formerly had got one reasonably well suddenly disintegrate into warring factions. It's a risk we need to guard against at all levels: as a community of nations, as a country and within the church. 'Blessed are the peacemakers,'Jesus said in his famous Sermon on the Mount. Let us, in turbulent days, stand out from the crowd as being people of peace.
Jesus' final briefing
During the autumn at our church services, we have been working our way through chapters 13 to 16 of John's Gospel where Jesus gives his closest associates a final briefing before his arrest, trial and crucifixion.
Jesus washes their feet as an example of servant leadership before predicting Judas's betrayal and Peter's denial. He tells them he's leaving to both 'to prepare a place for them' in his Father's house and so that they may be filled with the Holy Spirit.
Then, perhaps surprisingly, instead of talking about leaving, he talks about remaining, using the metaphor of the vine. He tells his disciples that if they remain close to him, allowing his words to fill their hearts and minds then they will be successful and fruitful in the building of the kingdom of God. He then goes on to warn them that they will face stiff opposition.
Being fruitful for the kingdom of God entails dwelling with and being obedient to Jesus' word. Jesus' word must abide in us, all day, every day, and become part of who we are. It's easy to parcel off spiritual things into the margin of our lives but Jesus' teaching is to be put into practice. Obedience is the way we remain in his love. Obedience and love: not things we usually put together, but Jesus does, for all he commands us to do is an expression of his love and, through obedience, we will share in his joy.