Summary: This message was given in a very public setting when our church met on a Sunday morning, not in our building, but at the local public park, inviting all at the park to join us in worship.
Did you notice and really comprehended the words of the songs we sang earlier? All these songs dealt with seeking and longing to touch and to connect and be used by and with Jesus. Do we long to be with Him? To we seek to be connected with the Almighty? Do we really have power to live the life the God has called us to Live? Or do we muddle along and just get by?
I’m going to deviate from the our focal passage for a few minutes and relate another Bible story.
Matthew 9:20–22 (NKJV) And suddenly, a woman who had a flow of blood for twelve years came from behind and touched the hem of His garment. 21 For she said to herself, “If only I may touch His garment, I shall be made well.” 22 But Jesus turned around, and when He saw her He said, “Be of good cheer, daughter; your faith has made you well.” And the woman was made well from that hour.
Here is Jesus, on his way to heal a the little daughter of one of the local rulers. The crowd was pressing in all around Jesus. Yet this woman, pressed through, and touched Jesus’ garment, and she was healed. The crowd was all around Jesus, yet this woman was the only one who connected with Jesus.
Why did you come to church today? Connect with friends? Someone made you or shamed you into coming. Out of obligation? Out of habit? Perhaps, because we are in the park today, Maybe you came out of curiosity? Or perhaps you came to connect with Jesus.
Often in church we crowd around Jesus. We hob nob with Him. We study about Him, talk about Jesus. We connect with others that are doing the same. But only few actually reach though the crowd and touch Him. What does it mean to connect with Jesus? What does mean to be plugged in?
3 types of Christians in the Church: I have seen myself in all three at one time or another.
1. The do nothing Christian -The Sunday School director/ Nominating Committee Chairman will often ask, “ Can you serve as Sunday School Teacher, Youth Leader, We need someone to work with children, etc. ?” The common response: “ I’ll have to pray about it” (Standard Baptist answer to everything). or, God has not given me the gift of teaching;” “I’m not sure God is leading me in this direction.” "I’m waiting for God to open just the right door." Do Nothing Christians have an excuse for everything
2. Hard worker Christian, Does a lot but accomplish little or nothing. They are there every time the door opens, on every committee, on the verge of burn out. Often these folks do burn out, drop out, and disappear - become inactive. What happened? Nothing more pitiful than a burned out powerless Christian.
3. Blessed Christian: You know of those in the church who it seems God blesses everything they do. They have boundless energy. Ministries flourish in their hands. What is their secret? Let’s look at our focal passage today.
John 15:1–2 (NKJV) “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
John is the most Jewish – draws heavily on OT imagery. The OT Picture – Israel was the vine – but was unfruitful.
Think about it – you’re a farmer, you work hard planting, weeding, watering – you expect to see some fruit! What are you going to do? Un-productive branches you get rid of. Fruitful branches you prune. Verse 2 - prune; An interesting word here in the Greek – "kathairo" – means to clean - the same word in used in verse 3 for clean. How does Jesus clean? – with the WORD.
John 15:3 (NKJV) You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
How about the branches that don’t produce fruit? He takes away, verse 6 says the cast out branches that are gathered and thrown into the fire. So how does a branch produce fruit? Key Word in today’s passage is ABIDE - some translation have "remain." The Greek word is - "meno." Used 40 times in John, 10 times in verses 1-11. Can be translated: To Stay, Remain, Dwell in, or Live in.
John 15:4 (NKJV) Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
Get the picture - How are we producing fruit? By being plugged in to our source of life? Or doing it ourselves? What happens to a branch the is not connected to the vine? It dies. Now Just so you don’t misunderstand – Jesus repeats it: