Summary: Christ’s love compels us to be obedient to He who purchased us at a price and compels us to love and support one another as we, His friends, serve in the Master’s kingdom.
LIFE IN THE VINE
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
In John 15:1-17 Jesus Christ tells us that He is the true vine and we are the branches. Even though we are born again with the Spirit of God living inside of us, amongst brothers and sisters who build us up in the faith; staying connected to the vine and living a righteous life is still one of the hardest things a Christian can ever accomplish! Living in a fallen world that glorifies personal pleasure it is easy to compartmentalize our lives to gratify our inward, sinful desires. Christians are not left without hope for the Gardener, God, promises to prune the sin out of our lives and the true Vine, Jesus Christ, promises to give us the fruits of love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness and faithfulness to those who abide in Him by obeying His commands. The following sermon is going to begin by reviewing both the warnings and promises to those who chose to stay connected to the vine and then conclude with Jesus’ explanation of how to abide in Him.
JESUS IS THE VINE
“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, as I also 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.
John 15:1-4, NIV
Jesus begins this parable by stating that He is the true vine. When vines and vineyards are mentioned in parables in the Synoptic Gospels or in the Old Testament, Israel is portrayed as God’s choice vine (Jeremiah 2:21) that consistently lacked any fruit. For example, Israel’s vineyard was described by Isaiah as “bad” (5:4), Jeremiah as “corrupt” (2:21) and Hosea as being “empty” (chapter 10:1-2). Even though God gave Israel the fertile land of Canaan and protected her from her enemies, this light unto the nations failed to shine or bear any fruit. In the last of the “I am” sayings, the true light (John 1:9), true bread (John 6:32) and true tabernacle (Hebrews 8:2), Jesus Christ declared that He alone is the “true vine!” Jesus the sinless, sacrificial lamb in whom God was “well pleased” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5), came to provide us with a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26) so that when we abide in Him we can bear much fruit!
Jesus goes on to say that God the Father is the gardener of the vineyard. His role is to cut and prune the branches. For those branches who like Judas (John 13:1-2) demonstrate that their connection to Jesus is superficial (Matthew 7:22), God will cut them out of the vine. While the cutting of the dead wood from His church is an ongoing process it will be completed at the end times when the tares are collected and burned (Matthew 13:30). For those branches who are born again, God promises to prune them. Dead wood for a believer is worse than fruitlessness, for dead wood can harbor disease and decay. The gardener ensures Christians bear good fruit by removing the sin or dead branches from their lives. Sinful habits must be stripped away, priorities reordered and values changed so that the way a Christian aligns their life to that of the glory of God. While God prefers the removal of sin to be the gentle process of either changing our life circumstances or encouraging us to repent (1 John 1:9), often this pruning process is painful because it involves Him disciplining us (Hebrews 12:4-11). It is out of love and a genuine desire to have the branches share in His holiness that the Father prunes those He calls His own.
ABIDE IN CHRIST – THE WARNING AND PROMISE
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are 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 done for you.
John 15:5-7, NIV
In the second part of the parable of the vineyard Jesus gives to the Christian both a warning and a promise. Discipleship involves more than just being born again it as involves nurturing and maintaining one’s relationship with Jesus Christ by doing exactly what the counterfeit believers refused to do (8:30-59), obey His commands. Since no branch has life in itself because one cannot separate Christ from the Word, the fruits of those Christians who choose to wander on the broad path of sin will be thrown into the fire and burned. This does not mean that one will be separated from the love of God (Romans 8) and lose one’s salvation (John 10:27-29) but merely that one’s attempt to produce good fruit in His kingdom will not happen if one has one foot in Satan’s kingdom. To those Christians who choose to maintain their connection to the vine through obedience and prayer, Jesus promises, for the glory of God, to give them much fruit!