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You did not choose Me but I chose you
John 15:16 We have been chosen by God to bear fruit through spreading the Gospel and growing the Church
“You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.”
John 15:16 NASB1995
In the 15th chapter of the Gospel of John, Jesus is about to go to Gethsemane to pray and eventually be betrayed by Judas Iscariot. At the Last Supper, He — knowing full well what is to come — is teaching His disciples about life in Him. It is a somewhat hurried chapter; Jesus has very little time left to spend with those He loves best and who have been with Him through His ministry on Earth.
The chapter begins with Jesus teaching His disciples how to relate to Him once He has departed from them, then moving on to this section where He explains how they should relate to one another after Jesus is gone. The last portion of the chapter teaches them how to relate to the world after His departure, as He knows that they will be persecuted for their belief.
Just prior to this verse, Jesus tells the disciples to “love one another as I have loved you”, and explains that “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends.” Although Jesus has tried to make it known to the disciples that He will soon be arrested, tried, scourged, and crucified, they still don’t seem to grasp what is going on. Here He lets them know just how all-encompassing His love for them is — that He will lay down His life for His friends, and for all believers.
Examining this specific verse, Jesus has just finished enumerating the privileges that the disciples have had — friendship with Him, answered prayer, bearing much fruit (in terms of helping to bring many more people to Christ), and knowing things from the Father. He’s telling the disciples that they should treasure those privileges, but that they did not earn them — Jesus chose them to be His disciples. Australian New Testament scholar Leon Morris says of this passage:
ii. “It was not they who chose Him, as was normally the case when disciples attached themselves to a particular Rabbi. Students the world over delight to seek out the teacher of their choice and attach themselves to him. But Jesus’ disciples did not hold the initiative. On the contrary it was He who chose them.”1
Next, Jesus tells the disciples that they should go and bear fruit. That’s kind of an odd phrase - He’s not telling them to be fruitful and multiply, and He’s certainly not telling them to carry baskets of pomegranates like the one in the picture above. Some Bible commentaries have explained that He was telling them to make their missionary journeys throughout the world, bringing the Gospel to Jews and Gentiles alike. Perhaps it a call to pray, so that God the Father can answer the prayers and questions the disciples will have once Jesus is gone.
The last explanation makes a lot of sense. During His ministry on earth, the disciples have asked Jesus for answers to many questions, and He has always been there to explain, directly or through a parable. In the next sentence, Jesus tells them that whatever they ask of God in His name will be given to them — including answers, guidance, courage to spread the Gospel, even healing powers.
In our time, we can make the advice of Jesus in this verse a part of our lives as Christians. We are to go and bear fruit; bring others to Christ, and use prayer in His name to receive the blessing of the Father.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Father in Heaven, as I read today’s verse I am reminded that this is the first time that Your Son, our Savior, told His followers to pray in His name to receive Your blessings. May this verse live in my heart and mind, and may it guide me to bearing much fruit in helping grow the body of Christ in the Church and bringing the Good News to others. In the Holy Name of Jesus I pray, AMEN.
Morris, Leon "The Gospel According to John" (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1971)