Summary: Number 3 in a series to make the Gospel message simple enough for a child to understand.
STAYING CLOSE TO THE VINE
This is the 3rd sermon in the series “Winning this Generation for Christ”
I have tried to make the message simple, so that none be lost due to lack of understanding.
In his book “The Star Thrower” the author tells the story that he had a cottage on the beach near the pier away from the crowds of swimmers. He often went there to do his writing where it was quiet. At certain time during the year in California thousands of Starfish wash up on the beach and die. Science cannot explain this phenomenon.
One afternoon during that season he was walking towards his cottage to do some serious writing, when he saw a young boy picking up starfish and throwing them back in the water so they could live. He said the total futility of it irritated him, so when he approached the boy he said, “don’t you see these thousands of Starfish on the beach, do you really think you are going to make a difference? The young boy bent down and picked up a starfish, he looked at the author and said “mister it will make a difference to this one” and he threw it back in the water, The author said he spent the rest of the afternoon with the boy throwing Starfish back into the water.
And that is what church is all about; changing lives one soul at a time.
One morning as I walked out in my front yard to cut the grass, I noticed a small branch lying in the grass. We had a Hugh Maple tree in our front yard, and sometime during the night we had some high winds, and the little branch was ripped from the tree. The leaves were already starting to shrivel. As I picked it up my mind went immediately to John 15 the story of the Vine & the branches. Hence, the inspiration for this Sermon. Just the week prior I had finished Bruce Wilkinson’s book “Secrets of the vine”. I think God was trying to tell me something.
Laying the foundation.
At the end of chapter 14 in John’s Gospel we see Jesus had just finished his last meal on Earth with his friends, the disciples. There were only 11 left now as Judas Iscariot had already left and was on his way to the High Priest to betray Christ. This meal became known, and is still celebrated today as “The Last Supper” This is the origin of the Blessed sacrament “Communion” in the Church today.
As they got up and left the table, they went outside and walked through the quiet streets of Jerusalem, it was getting late. They walked down and outside of the city and walked through the grape vineyards that had been there for many centuries. Here Jesus stopped and he picked up a branch that had been broken off from the vine. Using that little branch he preached the last Sermon that he would ever preach on Earth.
Here we pick up at John Chapter 15: 1-8 (NLT)
1. "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
2. He cuts off every branch that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.
3. You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you. 4. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful apart from me. 5. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
6. Anyone who parts from me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7. But if you stay joined to me and my words remain in you, you may ask any request you like, and it will be granted! 8. My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father.
As he ended his conversation with his friends for the very last time, he was very sad. The disciples had no idea what lay just ahead. You who saw the movie the “Passion of the Christ “This is where Mel Gibson picks up the story and we see Jesus in the Garden, soon to be betrayed by Judas and every prophecy in the Bible concerning the Christ was about to be fulfilled in all its horror and Mans extreme inhumanity to Man will be displayed for all the world to see.
The message of the Cross is a simple one. Jesus died in your place so you can have eternal life, you can accept him or reject him, and the choice is yours and yours alone. If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on the side.