Discipleship 5 – the characteristics of a disciple

The aim of this devotional study is to reflect on the practices of a disciple and consider your own life in the light of Jesus’ words.


John 15:1-19

1  “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser.  2  Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  3  Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.

4  Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. 5  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. 7  If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

8  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.

9  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  10  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.

11  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.

12  “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13  Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14  You are my friends if you do what I command you.  15  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.  16  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17  These things I command you, so that you will love one another.

Observations and reflections

Context:  This is part of the last conversation John recalls Jesus had with his disciples on the night of his arrest.

  1. What do you understand Jesus meant by “Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.” (verse 3) [hint: what do you do with a vineyard to bear much fruit?]
  2. Carefully read through the text again and record all the characteristics of a disciples of Jesus mentioned in this conversation.
  3. How do you understand the disciples of Jesus ought to “abide in” Jesus from this text?
  4. What do you understand is the “fruit” a disciple must bear, that the Father longs to see?

Application and prayer

  1. Reflect on the characteristics of a disciple you summarized in answer to Observation question 1 above.
    1. Which of these are these visible in your life, and which are not?
    2. Why not?
    3. Pray about that, and make an appointment to talk to a Christian friend about that.
  2. When and how do you “abide in Jesus”?
  3. Would you say you “abide in Jesus Word / commands”?
    1. Chose one verse in the text above that speak to you the most; memorize it and pray through it thoroughly, asking God to reveal that truth to you, to make it alive in your spirit. (We call this Biblical mediation). Record what God revealed to you through this meditation exercise.

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