Summary: This is the first of a four part look at Jesus teaching that He is the true vine. This message sets the stage defining roles, fruit, and the types of branches Jesus speaks of.
What attention might we give to the final words
of someone close to us who is about to die?
John 15 - Personal moment with Jesus and His disciples on the night of His betrayal.
LET’S SET THE STAGE FOR WHERE WE ARE -
On the heels of the Triumphant Entry (John 12:12-16): Disciples don’t understand
What they might have been thinking - Mark 11:1-6
The Passover Feast: One commentator, "The feast had become more luxurious and lavish; the participants no longer sat on stools and ate the meal in haste, but lay around the table on couches, drank wine as in a proper feast, and ate the meal in a leisurely fashion."
Positioning for greatness in the kingdom: Matthew 20 a mother of two disciples requests the seats at the sides of Jesus;
OYB - in Mark 10 it is actually James and John
Scene of confidence, power, and triumphant. Three years has led to this!
The mood shift - John 13:2-5
Blow #2 - v. 18-22
Blow #3 - John 14:19a
The Final Blow - John 14:30
The mood has shifted. Jesus has their attention, and leads them out (v. 31b)
Begins final "I Am. . ." teaching - John 15: 1-8
MY EXPERIENCE WITH GRAPES & VINES:
Summer job after college
Parents home in Napa Valley
Today we set the stage.
DEFINING ROLES -
Jesus is the Vine: the trunk out of the ground.
God is the Vinedresser: Hired to produce the highest yield of grapes possible.
We are the Branches: That which takes from the trunk and produces fruit.
Hard to see where the trunk stops and the branches begin.
Trellis: Surprise for later.
DEFINING FRUIT -
Not strictly evangelism and conversions.
Titus 3:14 - connection of fruits to good works.
Psalm 1:3 - fruits connected to the prospering of whatever we do.
Galatians 5:22 - Christ like inner fruit.
Fruit = external works (including evangelism and kingdom building to be sure), but also inner works of the Spirit
Fruit should endure (John 15:16) - Both types of fruit, the external works and the inner working produced in our spirit
Fruit is our purpose - The reason we have been chosen by God, is to produce fruit/good works that lasts (Ephesians 2: 10).
Not the first Biblical use of this imagery - Isaiah 5:1-7
JESUS DESCRIBES DIFFERENT TYPES OF BRANCHES:
1. Does not bear fruit (v. 2)
2. Bears fruit (v. 2)
3. Bears more fruit (v. 2)
4. Bears much fruit (v. 5)
DOES NOT BEAR FRUIT
v. 2a: "In Me" - Can be in Christ, and not bear fruit.
Not bearing fruit does not equal not being a Christian.
Being a Christian, does not equal fulfilling God’s will for your life.
What does God do with these branches?
"Takes away" - airo: take up, lift up.
Important correction of erroneous teaching and preaching:
airo - never in Biblical or Greek literature means to "cut off"
Imagery of the vineyard provides the imagery of the vinedresser lifting up these branches that don’t bear fruit - lifting up and cleaning them off, and connecting back to the trellis.
Connection to verse 3 -
Others need to be picked up, cleaned and reconnected to bear fruit again.
Example of cleaning the dog or a muddy kid.
Here’s the point:
If your life is not bearing fruit, God does not desire to hack you off the vine, and toss you aside. Rather, Jesus is telling us that when we are not bearing fruit God desires to intervene as the vinedresser, pick us up, clean us up, re-attach us to the trellis, and help us once again bear fruit.
This process of God’s intervention is called discipline. Not discipleship. Discipline. That is how God restores us to bear fruit. Through His discipline.
Preview next week’s look at Part II
(A great deal of inspiration for this message was derived from "Secrets of the Vine" by Bruce Wilkinson)