Summary: A sermon about staying connected to Christ.
November 15, 2008
This morning we are in the book of John, chapter 15. Last week we were in chapter 1 and briefly discussed the historicity of the book of John, and John’s purpose of writing this book. We also briefly touched on science and scripture and that they are not mutually exclusive, and that Jesus was both in the beginning with God, and Jesus is God. This is the primary basis for our belief in the Trinity.
Of the four gospels, John presents the highest Christology, teaching at length about his identity as savior, and declaring him to be God. Only in John does Jesus talk at length about himself, including a substantial amount of material Jesus shared with the disciples only. Here Jesus’ public ministry consists largely of miracles not found in the Synoptics, including raising Lazarus from the dead. In John, Jesus, not his message, has become the object of veneration. Certain elements of the synoptics (such as parables, exorcisms, and possibly the Second Coming) are not found in John.
This morning we are starting in chapter 15 and discussing our purpose in following Christ, and the result of staying connected to Christ. Do you follow the message of Christ, or do you follow Christ? The lesson in John is that we should first follow the Savior and as a result we then follow his message. There is a difference. This difference is the foundational difference between Christianity and all other religions. Do you follow Christ? Why do you follow Christ? What is the reason that you choose to be a disciple of the Savior?
Video: Vine and Branches. (From You Tube)
Let’s read our text this morning, John 15:1-8.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 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. You have already been pruned for greater fruitfulness by the message I have given you. 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.
“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. Anyone who parts from me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 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! My true disciples produce much fruit. This brings great glory to my Father.
At the first reading of this passage, it seems like such a simple message, and really it is. If the branch stays connected to the vine, much fruit will be produced. In the instance of grape vines, which this parable is based upon, grapes will be produced. If a peach branch is connected to the tree, peaches will be produced. If an apple branch stays connected to an apple tree, apples are produced.
But, what is produced when we stay connected to Jesus? Avocadoes? Pears? Cherries? To many secular humanists the answer is clear: we produce nuts! If a Christian stays connected to Christ, what is produced? The fruit of the Spirit? Yes, a Christian will produce the fruit of the Spirit if connected to Jesus, but the produce of a Christian connected to Christ is more Christians.
More Christians. We are to produce more Christians. OK, simple enough, but how is that accomplished? In the book of Romans, chapter 11, Paul tells us that we were not natural branches, but were grafted in to the tree (or Christ) due to our belief. After being grafted in, we need to get connected to Christ, be fed by him, receive nourishment from him, become one with him; we are to take on the very nature of our Savior. Then we can become fruitful.
OK, we are to take on the nature of Christ, but what is the nature of Christ. All we can do is look at his attributes to discern his nature. In my opinion, the top three attributes of Jesus, and since he is very God they are also attributes of God, is Love, Mercy and Forgiveness. In fact, if it were not for these three attributes, none of us would be followers of Jesus, nor would there likely be any followers of Jesus anywhere. It is only through the love of God that Jesus came to earth, it is only through His mercy that sinners such as us have a chance and it is only through His forgiveness that we enter the Kingdom of God.