Summary: Our lives are beyond our control. Without help, we usually will fail to do the right thing.
4 October 2005
The True Vine
Have you known the agony of not doing the right thing? Have you ever thought, “I ought to do this or that” only to forget all about it? Have you ever promised yourself that you’ll never say something or do something only to blurt it out or do it anyway? Have you ever thought “I can’t change – I’ll always act like this”? Have you fallen into the trap of comparing yourself to others? Have you ever thought, “At least I’m not like that guy down the street”? Have you consoled yourself about your failures and shortcomings by making a list of the obviously huge sins of others?In the middle of comparing yourself to others have you ever thrown your hands up in despair and said, “I really am no good”? What is our problem?
Left to ourselves, we cannot make all the changes we need to make. On our own we cannot keep on doing all that we should do. Let’s face it. Our lives are beyond our control. Without help, we usually will fail to do the right thing. But we are not alone…God’s people have not CHANGED in thousands of years. In fact, the Jewish prophets described the people of their time as GRAPEVINES gone wild. Isaiah said… “I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside. He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a wine-press as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit (Isaiah 5:1-2 NIV).”
Jeremiah passed along God’s word to the people when he wrote, “I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?” (Jeremiah 2:21 NIV). But Jesus came with a new message about God’s grapevine that is recorded in John 15:1-8.
1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.
2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.
4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.
5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.
6 If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.
7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you.
8 By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.
Jesus gave us this wonderful parable, but what can we learn about a grapevine that can be applied to our lives? Well, there are several LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM A GRAPEVINE.
Growing up we had a grapevine that stretched for about 100 feet along the top of a hill. And by watching my dad, I learned some things about grapes and grapevines…
Grapevines would rather produce shoots and leaves than grapes. They end up looking lush and green, but ultimately they are only good for making decorations.
Grapevines must be pruned drastically. The gardener must be merciless, cutting them back each year as far as he possibly can. Branches with no fruit must be removed so they don’t draw nutrients away from the grapes. And fruitful branches must be pruned back to produce even more in the following year.
What we learn about grapevines and how that message from Jesus pertains to us, gives us hope. It tells us that God doesn’t want to leave us on our own. He wants to be the Gardner who cares for us and makes us fruitful. It tells us that God can do in us and through us what we could never do by ourselves. It tells us that He will make us more and more fruitful – giving us more and more righteous attitudes and actions. It tells us that Jesus himself will live in us and God will answer our prayers as we learn to put the Bible into practice. You see, this is what our passage is about this morning…God as the great gardener, and Christ as the most excellent vine, wants us to remain in the vineyard and to produce good fruit.