In recognizing the significance of final conversations, the information Jesus shares in his Farewell Discourse (John 13–17) is considered especially important. During this conversation, in describing the new relationship he envisioned with his disciples following the events of his passion, he employs a vine and its branches as an analogy. Three core concepts seem critical to understanding this comparison—abiding in the vine, bearing fruit, and pruning. These concepts are explored within the context of Jesus’ Farewell Discourse and defined relationally in connection with the new commandment he had just introduced. This new command to love each other as he had loved them (John 13:34–35) was to be the identity marker of his disciples and the key to their new relationship. From this exploration a model of spiritual formation is proposed that equates fulfilling this new commandment to abiding in the vine, emphasizing how loving those with whom a special bond is shared opens disciples to the life of the vine, which is the Holy Spirit whom Jesus promised to send. In learning to love as Jesus loved (abiding), we grant his Spirit access and freedom to work deeply within our lives (branches) resulting in increased fruitfulness (formation) as reflected in healthy relationships and loving communities that last (John 15:16).



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