Summary: This is the final of a four part look at Jesus teaching that He is the true vine. This message focuses on our need to abide with Christ to be fruitful for the kingdom.
(Inspiration for this series from Bruce Wilkerson’s "Secrets of the Vine")
We are exploring Jesus’ final "I Am. . ." teaching on earth - John 15: 1-8
Building towards our purpose – individually and as a church – not to become fuller plants, with bigger leaves, and thicker branches. But to bear fruit.
LAST WEEK – EXPLORED PRUNING
THIS WEEK –
THE BRANCH THAT BEARS MORE FRUIT
More specifically - The secret to continuing to bear fruit, and increasing - v. 5-8
If your life is bearing plenty of fruit, God is going to invite you to abide deeper with Him.
Not to do more for Him, but to be more with Him.
Jesus says "abide" ten times - it is a passionate plea.
Abide is a command.
"Abide" – meno:
1. To Remain (i.e. in a place, in a time –
continue to be present.)
2. To Wait For
Without abiding, we lose the ability to fulfill our purpose.
Max Lucado writes, “God wants to be as close to us as a branch is to a vine. One is an extension of the other. It’s impossible to tell where one starts and the other ends. The branch isn’t connected only at the moment of bearing fruit. The gardener doesn’t keep the branches in a box and then, on the day he wants grapes, glue them to the vine. No, the branch constantly draws nutrition from the vine.”
Example of harvest at grape ranch. (the inflowing and retracting of the sugar in table grapes with the heating of the day)
But. . .the branch cannot make fruit.
We cannot either. We’ve all tried. With resolve in our eyes and grit in our jaws, we’ve tried.
- “Today I will be happy,” you growl between clinched teeth.
- “I’m going to be patient, and I am going to be patient right now.”
- “Okay, I’ll be a cheerful giver. Give me that stupid offering plate.”
- “I’m going to forgive that jerk if it kills me.”
See what I mean? We can’t force fruit. But nowhere in this text does Jesus tell us to go out and bear fruit.
What does He tell us to, actually command us to do?
- “Abide in me …” (v. 4).
- “Abide in the vine …” (v. 4).
- “If any abide in me and I abide in them,they produce much fruit” (v. 5).
- “Abide in me …” (v. 6).
- “Abide in me …” (v. 7).
- “Abide in my love …” (v. 9).
- “Abide in my love …” (v. 10).
Do you think Jesus wants us to abide in Him or what?
Our task is clear. Stay close to the vine. As long as we do, we’ll be fruitful. Life comes through the vine.
Apart from the vine, the branch does what? Nothing.
Jesus said it: “Apart from me you can do nothing”
(John 15:5 NIV).
EXPLORING THE CUT OFF BRANCH –
What about being cut off in verse 6?
It is not out of anger, it is out of uselessness –
The Vine Branches versus Other Wood
Apart from God, we can do nothing.
Nothing can be made of us.
We are of no use, but to burn.
Without an abiding spirit, we are of no use to the kingdom of God.
THE PERSONALITY OF THE ABIDING PERSON -
- Thirsting & Longing (Psalm 42:1-2a)
- Experiencing God’s Love (John 15:9)
- A Personality of Rest
And, this is so important. Branches don’t exert a lot of energy. You never hear of gardeners treating branches for exhaustion. Branches don’t attend clinics on stress management. Nor do they groan and grunt: “I’ve got to get this grape out. I’ve got to get this grape out. I’m going to bear this grape if it kills me!”
No, the branch does none of that. The branch has one job – to receive nourishment from the vine.
And you have one job - to receive nourishment from Jesus.
Eugene Peterson paraphrases it this way in The Message –
“I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation is intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can’t produce a thing”
We have learned that the hard way, haven’t we?
Apart from Him we can’t produce a thing.
God’s job is to bear fruit, our job is to abide.
The more tightly we are attached to Jesus, the more purely His love can pass through us.
WHY ABIDE –
A. TO DISCERN GOD - I KINGS 19
(ELIJAH ON THE CLIFF)
TO HEAR THE STILL, SMALL VOICE
B. TO EXPERIENCE GOD’S RICHNESS - ACTS 4:13
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”