Sermons

Summary: We are practicing this abiding in Christ as we worship together with the hope that it will continue after the benediction is pronounced and the postlude ends.

Like the good shepherd of last week’s text, this week’s image of the vine is another extended metaphor, which also borrows from and adapts Old Testament imagery for Israel.

Whereas the Synoptic parable of the vineyard is a story of violence and greed (Mark 12:1-12), this image of the vine is one of fruitfulness, intimacy, and love.

Jesus is on his way out. On his way to suffering and death and life and ascension. Out. Away. Apart from them. And he knew it and told them. Over and over he told them.

Did they not get it?

Did they just glaze over whenever he talked about that departure?

The overwhelming thrust of the passage is fruitfulness. The words bear fruit appear six times in these eight verses. Fruit-bearing is not something that the branches do by force of will.

The fruit happens organically because the vine is true and the gardener good. But the branches of this passage do choose to abide.

The verb abide like the phrase bear fruit appears over and over — eight times in four verses here — and will be repeated in part two of the passage next week when we learn that abiding in Jesus means abiding in Jesus’ love.

1) First Abiding is important

Abiding is important in John, where love of God means mutual indwelling. The verb abide has a cognate; and this noun appears in one of John’s most famous verses, 14:2. The many mansions in the Father’s house (in the familiar KJV) are actually abiding places.

The branches have to abide because without the vine, they are fruitless; they can do nothing.

And if they do abide and Jesus’ words abide in them, then and only then can they have Ministry or bear fruit.

We also find in the passage two references to the fruitlessness of not abiding.

It isn’t as if there are options. If you want the fruit of this vine, this is where you get it, by abiding here.

But just as there is no fruitfulness in not abiding, so there is no real future in focusing on those fruitless branches. The text is clear fruitless branches need to be pruned.

We don’t even make ourselves fruitful.

We cannot possibly discern what is happening with the rest of the vine.

But whatever is going on with the other branches is in any case the work of the vine grower.

It is perhaps also worth keeping in mind!

We bear fruit not by squeezing it out of ourselves but because we are extensions of the vine, pruned by the gardener-God who wants us to be fruitful and to be drawn into the unity of the Father and Son.

God’s love, presence, and pruning are gifts.

2) To abide in Christ is to know him as the way, the truth and the life.

To know him ‘perfectly’ is to abide in his love just as he abides in the love of his Father.

To follow him (think to last week about the Good Shepherd) requires a trusting obedience and foundation of “knowing” that moves beyond mental assent.

It is a knowledge that is based in love and based on faith. Jesus is the life and therefore to know him is to have life, both now and evermore.

To abide is to love and to remain in Christ love. The basis for all such love is the love of Christ that is first, it is sufficient and it is complete.

Jesus loves us and therefore we should love one another.

God so loved the world that he sent his son Jesus Christ to be the sacrifice for our sins; therefore we should love each other.

How do we abide? Well, it’s a two-way street as Jesus abides in us. Jesus’ words are to live in us and we can then live in him. In fact, we can do nothing apart from Jesus! Have you ever heard someone say, “I love Jesus but not the church. I’m just going to do “church” on my own,”?

Church cannot be done alone or apart from Jesus because it is the body of Christ.

You cannot have the church without Jesus.

Through obedience, and love, and action we are able to abide in the vine and therefore in the Father as well.

To abide in Jesus is to love him and to know him to be the way, the truth, and the life.

To abide is to have the abundant life promised by Jesus and to have it now.

Jesus said that the world would know we are his disciples by our love for one another.

3) Let me tell you Vines are amazing plants.

Vines are amazing plants. They are prolific, productive. They do not stay put, but grow in every direction if given the opportunity, and something to support them (the ground, a tree, a fence or building). Some of our favorite food plants are vines (tomatoes, grapes, squash, cucumbers, kiwi fruit, melons, beans, and peas).

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