Summary: “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me" John 15:4.
Theme: Nurturing the child to bear fruit
Text: Deut 6:6-9; Gal. 5:16-26; Jn. 15:1-5
Today is Children and JY Sunday and our theme for the sermon is ‘nurturing the child to bear fruit’. Every child deserves to grow up “increasing in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” (Luke 2:52) to live a good and profitable life. They need love, care, attention and the right nourishment to grow and become a blessing to society. Recently the news media carried the report of a grandmother who forced her grandchildren to sleep in a hen coup and fed them from a chamber pot. This was her wicked way of dealing with the problem of bed wetting that was probably the result of the children’s treatment and separation from their parents. These traumatised and malnourished children would grow up and be blamed for not excelling at school or blamed for not learning a trade. How can they be blamed when their brains were not given the chance to develop? How can we expect such deprived children to grow up and bear fruit? How can we expect their brains to develop when they were deprived of the nourishment needed for its growth? The development of every child begins at birth and then continues in kindergarten. It is significant that the word Kindergarten derived from the German means a garden of children. A neglected garden does not produce anything of beauty to attract attention. Instead it produces weeds no one is interested in. A neglected child, like a neglected garden, has nothing to offer society and ends up becoming a burden on society. A well tended, nurtured, and cultivated garden produces something of beauty and value. This should serve as motivation in nurturing the child to bear fruit.
Fruit bearing goes hand in hand with seed sowing. A farmer who wants mangoes sows mango seeds and the one who wants oranges sows orange seeds. A farmer cannot sow orange seeds and expect to harvest mangoes. The fruit produced by a tree depends on the planted seed. This natural process is an accepted phenomenon in the physical realm but it also applies in the spiritual realm. Just as there are physical seeds there are also spiritual seeds. Just as there is a natural process of fruit bearing there is a spiritual process of fruit bearing. The spiritual fruit that a person produces depends on the spiritual seed that is planted and the Scriptures teach us that the spiritual seed is the Word of God. The Scriptures are filled with spiritual seeds but unfortunately they remain seeds because many people either fail to plant them or fail to prepare the soil before planting.
In the physical world the farmer prepares the ground before planting. In the spiritual realm the soil that receives the seed of the Word is the heart and the heart is prepared to receive the seed when it is recreated at salvation. It is only when the heart is prepared to receive the Word that the Word can be planted. In our first Scripture reading from Deuteronomy we are taught how to plant the Word of God in our hearts. We are to teach them whenever we get the opportunity. The Jews kept the commandments of the Lord by literally writing and keeping them in little leather boxes. These boxes are then attached to their foreheads, arms and to the door posts of their houses. Even today most Jewish homes have what is referred to as “Mezuzah”. It means doorpost in Hebrew and contains a verse from the Torah usually, the Shema, from Deut. 6:4. Every devout Jew would touch the Mezuzah when leaving and entering the house. These practices taught them and teach us that focusing on the Word will affect our thinking and eventually our hearts “for out of it are the issues of life”. (Prov. 4:23) “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned”. (1 Cor. 2:14) We can only accept and believe the Word of God when Christ is our Saviour and Lord. Is Jesus Christ your Saviour and Lord? All you need to do is “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household”. (Acts 16:31)
A good farmer will nurture the seed by supplying the needed nutrients and by removing whatever hinders growth. The farmer fertilises the soil, makes sure there is adequate water and enough sunlight. In the case of vineyards some branches end up on the ground. They are trodden upon and become covered with dust and dirt. This denies them of the needed sunlight and air needed for growth. The farmer has the responsibility to lift up such branches, clean them and tie them to poles to expose them to the sunlight. Just as certain measures are necessary to ensure physical growth so in a similar manner certain measures are necessary to ensure spiritual growth. The Lord lifts up the branches covered in dirt, cleans them and ties them to poles so that they would no longer be walked on and are exposed to the sun so that the fruit bearing process can begin. Every Farmer knows there are hindrances to growth and in vineyards one of these hindrances is dealt with through pruning. Pruning is the horticultural act of removing unwanted branches and cutting back the true branches to promote growth. These unwanted branches are called sucker shoots and siphon off the sap meant for the branch leaving it malnourished and incapable of bearing fruit. The duties of the farmer is to clip off these sucker shoots, cut back the branches, and remove all the dead wood that can harbour insects and disease and affect the whole vine. These same principles apply to spiritual growth and every distraction has to be dealt with.