Summary: A sermon about abiding in Christ.
Over and over again in the Old Testament, Israel is described as being the Vine or the Vineyard of God.
In Isaiah 5:7 the prophet declares: “The vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel.”
In fact, the vine had actually become the symbol of Israel.
It was the emblem on the coins, and there was a great golden vine in the Temple in front of the Holy Place.
And here, in John Chapter 15 Jesus declares, “I am the true vine…”
And in doing so, Jesus is making it clear that salvation comes not through flesh and blood lineage, but through faith in Christ.
And all who belong to Him are the people of God.
Nothing else can set us right with God.
I like to do some yard work.
I can pull weeds.
I can put down some Round-Up.
I like to get out there and sweat.
I like to prune bushes, and I can mow a lawn.
But I am not a real gardener.
I have been told that a rose bush, left to itself, will get all scraggly and tangled, and grow in on itself.
It will produce a bunch of not-so-good roses rather than the nice big beautiful ones.
And the reason is that it, quite literally, gets in its own light.
It needs help to grow in the right direction.
So you prune it to stop it from wasting its energy and being unproductive.
You cut out the parts of the plant that are growing inwards and getting tangled up.
In doing so, you are encouraging the shoots that are growing outwards, toward the light.
In other words, you prune the rose to help it be its true self!!!
And as far as I understand, more or less the same thing works with vines.
Vines need to focus their energy on producing good quality grapes.
They need to grow towards the light rather than getting in a tangled mess.
If they are left to themselves, they will produce a whole lot of worthless growth.
So, they need to be cut away if the vine is going to be truly what it is capable of being.
In verse 2 of chapter 15 Jesus says that God the Father “cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”
The word Jesus uses for “prune” in verse 2 is unusual.
It’s a lot like the word Jesus uses for “clean” in verse 3.
The disciples have already been saved.
They are already in Christ.
They are connected to the Vine, and they have already been pruned!
But, there is a lot more pruning to come!!!
Jesus has spoken the Word to them, calling them to take up their cross and follow Him.
They have submitted themselves to God’s pruning knife, allowing God to cut away other goals and ambitions.
They have already borne fruit; they must now expect more pruning so that they can bear even more fruit.
Jesus shows us, through this metaphor, that the Christian life is a process, and it is an adventure, and it produces great results!!!
It has been said that Christianity adds a new rung to the ladder of evolution, producing a new creature who lives in a new way.
And without Christ this would be impossible.
But in Christ, all things are possible!
In Christ, we come into a new life which is radically different from what we have left behind, with new desires, new possibilities, new powers and new outcomes!
This may be laughable to some, but it is fact!
It has been done over and over again!
And we are meant to be one of these new creatures.
We are meant to live such lives that others, meeting us, will look at us, look again, and then look from us to Jesus!!!
This is what it means to bear fruit!!!
This is what it means to grow toward the Light!!!
Jesus is the Vine, we are the branches.
We are the Body of Christ.
We are Christ’s feet, His hands, His body.
Christ is calling each of us, “Come help Me in My saving of the world!!!”
What a thrill!!!
But we can’t do it alone.
We can’t become disconnected from the Vine.
We must do what the Vine does.
And that is what Christ did while He was on this earth.
He was never outside the Father’s will.
Everything He did and said was according to what the Father told Him.
That is how it is to be with us.
We are to be “in Christ” just as Christ is “in the Father.”
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must be connected to the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me…