Summary: A sermon about the parable of the Vine and branches using Eugene Peterson's The Message.
“Learning to Live in Jesus”
Jesus and His disciples have just finished the Last Supper.
Following the Supper Jesus washed His disciples’ feet and told them that He was setting an example for them—that they should do for one another what He has done for them.
From there Jesus has a conversation with His close friend Peter.
The conversation ends with Jesus telling His dear disciple that he will disown Him three times before the rooster crows the next morning.
In Chapter 14 Jesus says to His disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in me.
In my Father’s house are many rooms; I am going there to prepare a place for you.”
How could the disciples NOT be troubled?
Jesus is telling them over and over again that He is going away.
And He is preparing them for the time when He won’t be with them in the same physical sense that they have always known.
He will, though, still be with them.
He will be with them through the Living Presence of the Holy Spirit.
And He says that Holy Spirit will live with them, and will be in them.
“I will not leave you as orphans,” Jesus tells His disciples in John 14:18, “I will come to you.
Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me.
Because I live, you also will live.
On that day, you will realize that I am in the Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
In our Lesson for this morning, Jesus continues to prepare the disciples for the time when He is no longer with them physically.
He knows the trials they will face in the days and years ahead.
At the same time Jesus invites them and us to enter into a more profound relationship with Him by urging us to live in Him, make our home in Him.
And so, rather than wringing His hands in despair, Jesus is speaking a word of hope and trust.
Stay close to Jesus, weathering whatever storms may come.
He says, “I am the Vine, you are the branches…
…Live in me.
Make your home in me just as I do in you.”
For most of us, we don’t have to look too far to find every day examples that help deepen our understanding of what Jesus is getting at when He compares Himself to a Vine and you and me to the branches.
It almost goes without saying that once a branch is cut off from its life source, it is simply not going to live long, not to mention being at the end of its fruit bearing potential.
A farmer in a rural congregation in South Carolina once planted several acres of watermelons that he had presold to a grocery store chain in New York City.
When the truck got there for the watermelons, though, there was a misunderstanding over who was supposed to harvest the crop.
The deal fell through, the truck left empty, and the farmer gave all the watermelons to a local church Youth Group to sell at a roadside market for missions.
The young people and their parents put on boots and gloves and went out into the fields in search of the melons.
They soon saw that some of the branches had separated from the vine, had turned brown, and had no fruit worth finding.
But the green, living branches were still connected to the vine and had tasty watermelons under their leaves.
So, Jesus uses the metaphor of a vine connected to a branch and a human being connected to Christ to emphasize what it means to live a faithful and fruitful life.
And the connection He is talking about isn’t temporary or shallow.
It is abiding, enduring and deep.
It is learning to live lives more and more and more rooted in Jesus.
It is living in Christ in the same way that Christ lives in us, becoming stronger and stronger day after day, year after year…
…producing more and more high quality fruit along the way.
So, let’s ask ourselves this morning: “Are we connected to Christ?”
“Are we rooted in Jesus?”
“Where do we get our nutrients for living?”
“Are we bearing fruit for the Kingdom?”
“Are we making our home in Jesus?”
If we really think about it, this is a difficult question.
I struggle just thinking about it.
The answer should be easy, but if I am honest, I have to admit that a lot of times I don’t live in Christ.
I don’t make my home in Him.
How about you?
Instead, I often abide in things that I think I can control, but then those things end up controlling me.