John chapter 15

What do you wish for?

“If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. – Vs 7 NASB

Ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you. I have always struggled with this verse. It’s a promise from Christ Himself, but I have rarely seen it become a reality in my life. I know the problem is not with Christ or His Word, so it begs the question, “Why don’t I seem to get whatever I wish?” About two years ago, while on a missions trip to Ethiopia, I had the opportunity to teach this chapter to about 160 pastors and church leaders. It was in studying for that lesson that the real message of this verse jumped out at me. I discovered that it had very little to do with what I wish. At least not with the kinds of things that I tend to wish for. The secret to understanding this promise is to keep it in its context. But like a lot of other passages in Scripture, we tend to lift it out of its context, and when we do, we lose its real meaning.

Jesus starts out chapter seven using the metaphor of vines, branches, and the vinedresser. It is an agricultural metaphor that his listeners would have easily understood. The real point of the metaphor seems to be about fruit bearing or fruitfulness. In the first 10 verses, Jesus uses the terms “bear fruit” and “bear more fruit” six different times. The clear purpose of a vine is to bear fruit. It is the reason a vinedresser plants the vine in the first place. When he places the vine in the ground, his expectation is that it bear fruit. In verse seven, Jesus says, “…ask whatever you wish.” That word means “have in mind, intend” or “desire, wish, take delight in, have pleasure.” Think about it. What does the vinedresser have in mind or intend when he plants the vine? Fruit. And the more, the better. If the vine could intelligently think, what would its greatest desire be? To produce fruit and a lot of it? The vine wouldn’t desire something else. It wouldn’t want to be the wood used to build a yacht or a throne. It would take delight in doing what it was intended to do. And in doing so, it would bring pleasure to the vinedresser. The same thing holds true for the branches. Their greatest desire or wish would be for fruitfulness. They would want, desire, wish, and take delight in doing what they were created to do.

But what is Jesus really talking about here? His followers. He is giving us a parable or story that helps us better understand our role in His kingdom work. God is the vinedresser, and He “planted” His Son on this earth to bear fruit. We are the branches. We are attached to and abide in the vine, and have the power and resources of Christ Himself flowing through us. As a result, we produce fruit. So when Jesus said, “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you,” He is still talking about fruitfulness. What is the greatest wish or desire of the vinedresser? Fruitfulness. What is the greatest wish or desire of the vine? Fruitfulness. What should be the greatest wish or desire of the branch? Fruitfulness. We should want nothing more than to be fruit bearers. That should be my greatest wish or desire. It should bring me pleasure to bear fruit for the Father as Jesus produces it through me. This isn’t about me getting whatever I want, but about my life being used by God to produce what HE wants. Fruit. Just look at verse eight: “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples.” I glorify God when my life produces fruit. Why? Because it is clear that He has produced it in me. When a winery produces abundant grapes, you don’t praise the vine or the branches, you praise the keeper of the winery. The same is true in our lives. When our lives produce fruit, God gets the glory. Because He is the one who made it possible. So when Jesus says,  “ask whatever you wish.” He isn’t telling us we have a blank check and can write it for whatever we want. He is saying that our desires are going to change. What we ask for is going to radically change the more we abide in Him. As the life of Christ flows through our life, we will see our desires change. What used to bring us pleasure no longer will. Instead we will find that we want what He wants. We will desire what He desires. And what does He desire? Fruitfulness.

And here’s one more thing to think about regarding fruitfulness. The fruit is NOT for you. I used to think that I was the key beneficiary of the fruit in my life, but if you stick with the metaphor, you realize that the fruit is produced for others, not for me. I am not the beneficiary. An apple tree does not eat the fruit it produces. Others do. So when I allow God to produce fruit through me, it is those around me who benefit. They are blessed. They get to enjoy what God has produced through me. So they benefit from my love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, and self-control. But I don’t go away empty handed. Jesus tells us in verse 11: “These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.” What is the joy that Jesus has that He wants to fill us with? To do the will of His Father. To produce fruit. When we see our lives producing fruit and benefiting those around us, we WILL have joy. Because we will know that we are doing what we were made to do. We are being used by God. And who could wish for anything more?

Father, make it my greatest wish to bear fruit for You! Continue to change my desires to match Yours. I want to want what You want. I want to be fruitful. So that my joy may be full. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men
kenm@christchapelbc.org