Summary: A look at what it means to be fruitful and the type of ’branches’ we are
Introduction with children
A Branch on the Tree or a Stick in the Mud?
Theme: Apart from Jesus, we can do nothing
Object: Two branches that has been broken from a tree -- one with leaves withering, the other without any leaves at all.
Scripture: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." John 15:5 (NIV)
Recently I found this branch underneath a tree. I guess it had been broken off by the wind. As you can see, the leaves have all started to wither and die. I also found this branch nearby. As you can see, there are no leaves at all. It is completely dead. In fact, I wouldn’t even call it a branch, I would call it a stick.
Do you think that if I took these branches out into the yard and planted them in the ground and watered them they would come back to life? No, that wouldn’t work, because the branches get the nutrients that they need to live from the tree. Branches cannot live or grow without the tree. Without the tree, there will never be leaves on the branches. If the branch comes from a fruit tree, there will never be fruit on the branch if it is separated from the tree. If I take this dead branch and plant it in the ground and water it, it won’t come back to life, it will just be an old stick in the mud.
That same thing is true about our life with Jesus. Listen to what Jesus said, "I am the vine and you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."
If we keep our life connected to Jesus, we will grow. Our life will produce beautiful leaves and delicious fruit. But if we are separated from Jesus, our leaves will wither and die and we will never put forth any fruit.
What will your life be? Will you be a beautiful branch on the tree...or will you just be a stick in the mud?
Dear Jesus, help us to remember that apart from you, we can do nothing. Amen.
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Picture the scene, Jesus and his disciples (except Judas as he had already left to betray Jesus) had just finished the ‘last supper’. Jesus then says to them “Come now; let us leave”. They walk from the ‘upper room’ where they had supper to the ‘mount of olives’ and the ‘garden of Gethsemane’ where Jesus would be arrested.
They walk past (or through) the temple and they would probably have seen the golden vine that adorned the temple doors.
“The temple doors were adorned with embroidered veils, with their flowers of purple, and pillars interwoven; and over these, but under the crown-work, was spread out a golden vine, with its branches hanging down from a great height, the largeness and fine workmanship of which was a surprising sight to the spectators, to see what vast materials there were, and with what great skill the workmanship was done.”
The reason that the temple doors had this vine above them was because the Israelite nation is described in many places of the Old Testament as a Vine, or as a Vineyard.
Jesus is continuing to teach them, I am sure in the knowledge that he would soon be arrested. They pass a vineyard, something all too common in Israel at the time.
As they are passing, I can imagine Jesus stopping and walking up to one of the vines and while he is standing right beside it he says this:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He 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. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”