Lesson 75: John 15

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

On the final evening of His mortal ministry, after the Last Supper, the Savior taught His Apostles that He is the True Vine and that His disciples are the branches. He commanded His disciples to love one another and warned them of the persecution they would experience because of their association with Him.

Suggestions for Teaching

John 15:1–11

Jesus explains that He is the True Vine

Before class, write on the board the words successful, unhappy, joyful, dead, worthwhile, unproductive, fruitful, productive, abundant, and unsuccessful.

Invite students to imagine themselves looking back on their lives 60 years from now.

  • Which of these words would you like to describe your life? Why?

grapevine

Draw a picture of a grapevine on the board. You might suggest that students duplicate the drawing in their class notebooks or scripture study journals. Explain that Jesus used a metaphor of a grapevine to help His disciples understand how to have a fruitful, productive, and abundant life.

Invite a student to read John 15:1–5 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what the elements of this metaphor represent.

  • What does the vine represent? (Label the vine on the board Jesus Christ.)

  • What do the branches represent? (Label the branches Disciples of Jesus Christ.)

  • If Jesus Christ is the vine and we are the branches, what does the fruit represent? (The fruit can represent the righteous works and actions that Jesus Christ’s disciples should produce. Label the fruit Righteous works.)

Point out the word husbandman in verse 1.

  • What is a husbandman? (Someone who cares for a vineyard.)

  • According to verses 1–2, how is Heavenly Father like a husbandman? (Explain that God the Father planted the true vine [Jesus Christ] from which all others would take nourishment.)

Show the class a small branch or twig that you have cut from a tree and explain how excited you are for the time when you will be able to pick some fruit from this branch and eat it. Ask the class when they think you will be able to eat the fruit from this branch.

  • Why won’t this branch produce any fruit? (Because it was cut off from the tree, it cannot receive nourishment to produce fruit.)

Invite a student to read John 15:4–5 aloud. Invite students to follow along, looking for what the Savior said is necessary for fruit to grow on a branch.

  • What did Jesus say is necessary for fruit to grow on a branch? (The branch must “abide” in the vine.)

  • How is this branch like someone who has been separated or cut off from the Savior?

Invite students to consider marking each instance of the words abide or abideth in verses 4–5. Explain that the word abide as used in these verses means to remain firmly and permanently attached to Jesus Christ and His Church (see Jeffrey R. Holland, “Abide in Me,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 32).

  • According to verse 5, what is the result of abiding in, or being firmly connected to, the Savior? (Jesus Christ’s disciples will bring forth much fruit.)

Write the following incomplete statement on the board: If we keep the commandments we will abide in the Savior’s love and …

To help the class understand one way Jesus Christ helps us keep the commandments and abide in His love, invite a student to read the following statement aloud:

“It is … through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the Atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts” (Bible Dictionary, “Grace”).

  • What are some ways Jesus Christ strengthens us to keep the commandments?

Summarize John 15:6–8 by explaining that the Savior taught that those who do not abide in Him are like the branch that has been cut off. It withers and dies, but individuals who abide in Jesus Christ produce righteous works that glorify God.

  • What can we do to abide in, or be firmly connected to, the Savior?

Invite a student to read John 15:9–11 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Jesus taught His disciples to do and what blessings they would receive.

  • What did Jesus teach His disciples to do?

  • How does keeping the commandments allow us to abide in the Savior’s love? (Explain that while the Father and the Son love us with a perfect and everlasting love, keeping Their commandments allows us to receive a fulness of the blessings They lovingly desire to give us [see 1 Nephi 17:35; D&C 95:12; 130:20–21].)

  • According to verse 11, why did Jesus teach His disciples to abide in Him and bring forth righteous works?

Ask students how they would complete the incomplete statement on the board as a principle based on what they read in verse 11. (Using students’ words, complete the statement on the board so that it conveys the following principle: If we keep the commandments we will abide in the Savior’s love and receive a fulness of joy.)

  • Why do you think abiding in the Savior allows us to receive a fulness of joy?

Ask students to think of someone they know who has joy because he or she abides in the Savior. Invite a few students to share about the person they thought of and to explain why that person is a good example of this principle. You might also consider inviting students to share how abiding in the Savior has brought them joy.

Invite students to ponder ways in which they can stay firmly connected to the Savior and thereby receive greater joy.

John 15:12–17

Jesus commands His disciples to love one another

Write on the board the following statement by President Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. (This statement is found in “The Mission and Ministry of Jesus Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 2013, 38.)

“Surely the best evidence of our adoration of Jesus is our emulation of Him” (President Russell M. Nelson).

Underline the words adoration and emulation in the statement on the board. Invite students to explain what the underlined words mean. (Adoration is great love and respect, and emulation means to imitate or copy.)

  • Why do you think emulating Jesus is the best way to show that we love and respect Him?

Invite a student to read John 15:12 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Savior asked us to emulate Him.

  • What has Jesus commanded us to do? (Students may use different words but should identify the following truth: The Savior has commanded us to love one another as He loves us. Encourage students to consider marking this truth in verse 12.)

  • What do you think it means to love someone the way Jesus Christ loves you?

Invite students to read John 15:13–17 silently, looking for the way the Savior has loved us. After sufficient time, divide them into pairs and ask them to discuss with their partners what they found. Then ask the following questions:

  • According to verse 13, what did the Savior say is the greatest manifestation of love?

  • How did He demonstrate this kind of love?

To help students understand more about what it means to lay down our lives, invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Claudio R. M. Costa of the Seventy:

Elder Claudio R. M. Costa

“[Jesus Christ] gave us the supreme example of love when He declared, ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ [John 15:13]. He later atoned for all our sins and finally gave His life for all of us.

“We can lay down our lives for those we love not by physically dying for them but rather by living for them—giving of our time; always being present in their lives; serving them; being courteous, affectionate, and showing true love for those of our family and to all men—as the Savior taught” (“Don’t Leave for Tomorrow What You Can Do Today,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2007, 74).

  • According to Elder Costa, what are some ways we can lay down our lives for others?

  • When has someone laid down his or her life in one of these ways for you?

Invite students to ponder the Savior’s commandment to love others as He loves us. Give them a few minutes to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals about someone they think the Savior would like them to show love for and a plan for how they will do so.

John 15:18–27

Jesus warns His disciples of the persecution they will experience for testifying of Him

Explain that after the Savior taught His disciples about abiding in Him and showing love for one another, He taught them what would happen to them because of the special witness they had of Him and the responsibility to share it.

Invite a student to read John 15:18–20 aloud, and ask the class to look for what Jesus taught about how the world would treat His disciples. (Explain that in these verses, “the world” refers to people who are sinful and oppose God.)

  • What did Jesus teach about how the world would treat His disciples?

You may want to point out to students that because “the world hateth” the Savior’s disciples, students will likely encounter anti-Mormon and hate-filled media and websites. Some students will face exclusion, ridicule, and intimidation through angry behavior, including cyberbullying.

If applicable, you might consider instructing students on how and where to find answers for hate-filled accusations against the Church. In addition to seeking help from trusted adults, students can find online resources at mormonnewsroom.org, lds.org/topics, and seektruth.lds.org.

Summarize John 15:21–25 by explaining that Jesus Christ affirmed that those who hate Him also hate the Father and that they will be held accountable for their choices.

Explain that despite others’ hatred and persecution of the Savior’s followers, Jesus Christ provided ways for the world to receive a testimony of Him. Invite students to read John 15:26–27 silently, looking for the witnesses who would testify of Jesus Christ to the world.

  • Who did the Savior say would testify of His divinity? (The Holy Ghost and the Savior’s disciples.)

Invite students to ponder the principles and truths in this lesson. Encourage them to review what they have felt impressed to do and to follow the promptings they may have received from the Holy Ghost.

Commentary and Background Information

John 15:4–5. If we abide in the Savior, we will produce righteous works

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught what it means to abide in the Savior:

“‘Abide in me’ [John 15:4] is an understandable and beautiful enough concept in the elegant English of the King James Bible, but ‘abide’ is not a word we use much anymore. So I gained even more appreciation for this admonition from the Lord when I was introduced to the translation of this passage in another language. In Spanish that familiar phrase is rendered ‘permaneced en mi.’ Like the English verb ‘abide,’ permanecer means ‘to remain, to stay,’ but even [English speakers] like me can hear the root cognate there of ‘permanence.’ The sense of this then is ‘stay—but stay forever.’ That is the call of the gospel message to [everyone] in the world. Come, but come to remain. Come with conviction and endurance. Come permanently, for your sake and the sake of all the generations who must follow you. …

“… Christ is everything to us and we are to ‘abide’ in Him permanently, unyieldingly, steadfastly, forever. For the fruit of the gospel to blossom and bless our lives, we must be firmly attached to Him, the Savior of us all, and to this His Church, which bears His holy name. He is the vine that is our true source of strength and the only source of eternal life” (“Abide in Me,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2004, 32).

Elder James M. Paramore of the Seventy taught about how God transfers His love and power to those who keep the commandments:

“When we humbly seek our Father in Heaven by prayer, and by learning and keeping His commandments, He transfers to us His love and many of His powers. Thousands bear witness that His words ‘If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love’ (John 15:10) are true. We then, as the Savior said, begin to attach ourselves as branches to the ‘true vine’ and receive the same strength and power and can expect the same fruit. (See John 15:1–6.)” (“Love One Another,” Ensign, May 1981, 54).

John 15:8–14. “The same bringeth forth much fruit”

President John Taylor taught that we need to be humble, faithful, diligent, and obedient if we are going to be fruitful branches:

“As a Saint you say, ‘I think I understand my duty and I am doing very well.’ That may be so. You see the little twig; it is green, it flourishes and is the very picture of life, it bears its part and proportion in the tree, and is connected with the stem, branches and root; but could the tree live without it? Yes, it could. It need not boast itself and get uplifted, and say ‘how green I am and how I flourish, and what a healthy position I am in, how well I am doing and I am in my proper place and am doing right.’ But could you do without the root? No; you bear your proper part and position in the tree. Just so is this people. When they are doing their part; when they are magnifying their calling, living their religion and walking in obedience to the Spirit of the Lord, they have a portion of his Spirit given to them to profit withal. And while they are humble, faithful, diligent and observe the laws and commandments of God they stand in their proper position on the tree; they are flourishing, the buds, blossoms, leaves and everything about them are all right, and they form a part and parcel of the tree” (Deseret News, Dec. 16, 1857, 323).

John 15:13. “Greater love hath no man than this”

President Gordon B. Hinckley shared his feelings about John 15:13:

Jesus is my friend. None other has given me so much. ‘Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends’ (John 15:13). He gave His life for me. He opened the way to eternal life. Only a God could do this. I hope that I am deemed worthy of being a friend to Him” (“My Testimony,” Ensign, May 2000, 71).

Supplemental Teaching Idea

John 15:1–11. Jesus is the True Vine and His disciples are the branches

Instead of displaying a twig or branch that has been cut off a tree, assign students the day before this lesson to cut a flower, leaf, or small branch from a tree or shrub and time how long it takes to wilt. At this point in the lesson, ask students to report what they observed, then proceed with the lesson.