Lucy Blog

Meditating Verse by Verse: John 15:3

“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” John 15:3

In the first 2 verses of John 15, Jesus compares himself to a Vine, and God to a Gardener.  But then, in verse 3, the focus turns towards Believers.  Initially, to me, verse 3 feels out of context to the rest of the “Vine & Branches” talk.  It doesn’t fit with the theme of growing, fruit, or remaining in Jesus.  However, Jesus wouldn’t waste words or His time, so there must be significance in His mention of cleanliness.

You.

During His ministry, Jesus spoke to a lot of people.  However, in John 15, Jesus is talking to the Disciples.  This is important, because of who he is not talking to.  He is not talking to the Pharisees, a curious crowd, or skeptics.  The Disciples are people who have already committed to following Jesus.  They love Him, they believe in Him, and they are dedicated to Him.  This passage is therefore directed at existing believers.

 Are already clean.

Clean, pure, undefiled, spotless, etc. were all words used to describe the status of a person allowed to commune with God.  This theme was consistent throughout both the Old and New Testaments.  Being considered “clean” in God’s sight was, and still is, the ultimate goal.  David wrote in Psalm 24:3-4, “Who may ascend the mountain of the Lord?  Who may stand in His holy place?  The one who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not trust in an idol or swear by a false god.” 

Before Jesus came into the world, there were many rituals and steps a person could take in an attempt to be considered “clean”.  When Jesus spoke the words of John 15:3, He hadn’t died and risen yet, so the Disciples did not know that He was the ultimate sacrificial lamb.  However, Jesus is declaring His followers “clean”. 

Why does He interrupt His “Vine & Branches talk” with this?  The first 2 verses of the chapter only mention God and Jesus—we don’t yet know that Believers are the branches.  So, when Jesus says “You are already clean…”, He is implying that what He is about to say does not have any bearing on our salvation.  We are already clean.  We are already saved.  The wisdom that Jesus is about to give us in the next verses does not change our salvation. 

Remember, Jesus isn’t talking to a random group of people who aren’t committed to Him.  He is speaking to Believers. 

Because of the word.

Word?  Which word?!?!  Jesus spoke a lot of words, but since He is talking about cleanliness, it would appear that He is reminding the Disciples of His teachings on salvation.  He taught many times about the Kingdom of Heaven, and the fact that He is God’s son.  However, He very plainly spoke about it in John 3:

“…so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes in him may have eternal life.” John 3:14b-15

Whoever believes in him (the Son) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” John 3:18

Jesus very specifically told people how they would be saved: believe in Him!

I have spoken to you.

Herein lies the key to this entire verse. 

We are clean, because Jesus has spoken.  “Are” is a state of being verb.  An identity indicator.  “Has spoken” is an action.  Jesus spoke and changed our state of being.  Jesus acted, and we received.

WE DID NOTHING TO EARN OUR SALVATION.  We are clean because of Jesus, not because of something we did or are going to do.  This is important for us to remember as we continue on to the next verses. 

“You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” John 15:3

Conclusion:

[Spoiler Alert!]  In verse 4, Jesus would go on to tell the Disciples to, “Remain in me”.  However, it would appear that before He gave them that command, Jesus wanted to remind them that they could not earn salvation through obedience.  They were already clean because of Jesus, and not themselves.  We are saved because of Jesus, and not our obedience, fruit, wisdom, or efforts.  We are, because He spoke.   

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