Summary: In order to imitate Jesus, demonstrate love, joy, etc we must "stay connected" to the Vine. I begin with a story of Oskar Schindler about connections. Through prayer, worship and the reading of God's word, listening to His voice will produce good deeds.
In Jesus Holy Name May 1, 2021
Text: John 15:1-8 Easter V Redeemer
It helps to have connections. Everybody knows it’s true. It’s not what you know, the cynic says, but WHO you know that makes a difference.
In 1982 there was a wonderful book which was later turned into a powerful motion picture titled Schindler’s List. You may be interested in how that book was first published. A shopkeeper named Leopold Page was a survivor of the Holocaust. He survived through the efforts of one man, Oskar Schindler, a Roman Catholic, who saved not only his life but the lives of 900 of his fellow Jews. Page was determined to find a writer who would be interested in telling the story of Oskar Schindler.
One day a novelist, Thomas Keneally, came into Page’s shop to buy a briefcase, and Page told him his story. Keneally was intrigued and agreed to commit Schindler’s story to print. What resulted was the story of a man who helped hundreds of Jews escape certain death at the hands of the Nazis. The book was dedicated to Oskar Schindler.
The book and the movie, which won seven Oscars, including Best Picture more than fulfilled Page’s lifelong dream. “I did not know how I would do this,” Page had said, “but I promised Oskar Schindler I would make him a household name.” And he did. Leopold Page was number 173, on Oskar Schindler’s list. He was 173 of the 900 who were spared death at the hand of the Nazis thanks to Oskar.
Leopold Page was a shopkeeper, not a writer. But his commitment to his friend led him to connect with people who could bring his dream to reality. It’s important in life to have connections. If you don’t HAVE connections, then it’s important to MAKE connections. Don’t fight it. Make prudent use of this adage it’s not what you know but who you know. And so today I want to ask you this important question, how connected are you to Jesus?
By staying connected to Jesus we know our broken commandments are
forgiven, erased from God’s ledger book. By staying connected to Jesus and His resurrection from the grave and death, we are assured of our own resurrection.
Jesus, Himself did not stay in the safe immunity of heaven, remote from human sin and pain. He actually entered our world at His birth in Bethlehem. He emptied Himself of His glory enduring the same temptations, experiencing the same sorrows, then was obedient to crucifixion and death. Jesus was the sacrificial “lamb”, whose holy blood, offered on the cross removed our broken commandments from the just judgment of God.
This was God’s plan from the beginning of creation. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s commandment they accepted the lie of Satan that it would make themselves equal with God. It was a lie. Their world was radically changed. Peace and harmony with each other, peace and harmony with their creator was lost. They became afraid. They tried to avoid responsibility, which only created another problem between them. They did not go looking for God…He came looking for them. He offered them forgiveness because He still loved them.
When Jesus rose physically from death and the grave, it guaranteed all the promises of God, forgiveness to every believer and eternal life. “Because Jesus nailed our broken commandments to His cross and left them there (Col. 2:14) our impending death is still the last enemy but it has lost its power to harm and terrify. Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” Our soul is eternal, for it will be resurrected when Jesus returns in glory. (Philippians 3:20) But until that moment when we meet our “God” in the new heaven and new earth what are we to be doing?
Jesus wants His disciples to know that there is purpose in the Christian’s life. If Jesus is the vine and we are the branches, then the “fruit” of the Christian life is “good deeds” that flow from love. For God Himself is love and we are called to imitate Him. (Ephesians 5:1) Our purpose is to do good deeds that He has prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)
When Jesus spoke about vineyards, the people of Judea knew what he was talking about. It was an industry that had been carefully cultivated throughout the country for centuries. It was crucial because it was a cash crop as opposed to grain, which was raised purely for consumption. In early America the essential crop was corn, but the cash crop was tobacco. It was, therefore, vital to the economy of the land.