From the first time he met them, Jesus had a wonderful way of upending the plans of his disciples.
He engineered startling career changes, from fishermen, tax collectors and zealots to fishers of men. He tamped down the enthusiasm of James and John to sit beside him in Heaven. And Jesus snuffed out their self-righteous anger when they demanded a rain of fire consume some disagreeable people they encountered.
Now here they are, ignorant that they are sharing a last meal with their beloved Messiah, and the greatest series of upendings occur. It starts with Jesus washing their feet--not what a self-respecting rabbi like Jesus should do. And then, after weeks of telling them he was approaching a climactic event, he spends this last evening sharing the most important point for them to hold within their hearts: the extravagant, outrageous gift of abiding in Jesus’s love---and experiencing how the same love the Father has for Jesus is now theirs.
And then Jesus tops these topsy turvy events by telling them to give away this divine love to everyone they meet, as freely as they receive it from the Father. He is not providing them a cozy, self-indulgent love fest of their specialness. An evening of Jesus modeling servanthood ends with this radical directive to love and distribute the fruit of that love every day of their lives.
For a moment, pause and consider what Jesus is communicating in this passage: the creator of the universe, the same eternal omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent entity--our good, good Father-- that formed the atoms of stars, planets, water, mountains, and yes, us, is encouraging the disciples, and by extension, us, to abide, or stay eternally connected and resolute in the love of the Father.
The central message of both the old and new testaments is that our heavenly Father wants a close, personal relationship with us, not just corporately, but individually. Jesus is not only the one the old testament writings pointed to, but he is empowering his followers, and us, to love as the Father loves, and as the Son loves, by the grace of the Holy Spirit.
It is worth unpacking the last part of the verse: “...go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”
Jesus directs us to take the fruit that grows in our lives from that continuous outpouring of his love and provide it to all. And not only that, but to ask in the name of the Holy Father for more fruit to dispense to everyone He puts in our path. And notice what Jesus says about that fruit--that it will remain, it will be as constant as God’s love for us is. From his first fruit of love comes the other fruit of the Spirit--joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control.
I can tell you that any fruit I’ve produced apart from the Holy Spirit has been as sweet and pleasant as a crabapple. Holy Spirit-generated fruit sustains the lives of those it is given to, because it is like the spring of the water of life in Revelation 21 that quenches the thirst of the parched. The joy and peace is a taste of God’s heavenly dwelling place, where each of our tears are wiped away, where we no longer experience mourning, or crying, or pain anymore.
Let’s look at the context of this text again.
Jesus knows he is going to be tortured and experience an agonizing death, and that for all the world it will appear as a great humiliation for Him. Jesus’s focus is not on his imminent suffering but on assuring these wonderfully thick-headed (like you and me) men he has spent three years sharing their lives together that His Father loves them as much as he loves them.
Jesus comforts them with the amazing reality that God’s very own Spirit will be with them, directing and blessing their words, empowering them with healing, even raising the dead, but most of all, bringing the good news to all they meet, the good news that the maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them, remains faithful forever, for his years will never end.
These words are the culmination of the three years of Jesus’s ministry, his coming to tell the good news. And the good news is that the heavenly light--God’s very glory, will guide them throughout their days.
Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.