Summary: Exposition of John
Text: John 15:1-8, Title: The Vineyards of Tifton: The True Vine, Date/Place: NRBC, 7/8/13, AM
A. Opening illustration: the Piedmont Ecology class that I used to teach at BJP at NC Weslyan, Sept vines
B. I want to begin a three (or maybe four) part mini-series through this power-packed passage that Jesus gives on the vine and the branches. It is called the Vineyards of Tifton, and it will focus on the three main aspects of this teaching—the Vine, the Vinedresser, and the branches. The passage is rich, as so much of this “farewell address” has been, and so we will mine it for the truth about who these three metaphors represent, and what roles they all have in the kingdom and in our lives.
C. Background/Overview to passage: Having just taught on the coming of the Holy Spirit as the Strengthener that would come alongside the disciples and be there other Jesus, He tells them they are leaving the upper room because the evil one is coming. But the “farewell address” as we know it is not finished, in fact we have two more chapters to go (keep in mind Jesus wasn’t speaking in chapters). So they begin walking, probably out of the city toward the Garden of Gethsemane, where chapter 17 and the great “not my will, but thine” passage would take place. While passing through this way, they would have come alongside olive groves and grape vineyards that would have been the physical backdrop for the teaching presented in John 15. The spiritual backdrop is that, as we know and as He has mentioned over and over, He is going away, and the Spirit is coming. But there is much work to be done, and He wants to maintain the relationship that He has with them through the indwelling Spirit (remember He and the Father will make their home in believers through the Spirit), so Jesus knows that this relationship needs to be nurtured once He’s gone, and so He gives us John 15, and the analogy of the vine to express that. So don’t miss the point, which we will focus on more in the last of this three part series—this is how we walk with Jesus and bear fruit to the glory of God. But there is so much to learn about this teaching, it would do the Word of God a great injustice for us to proceed too quickly through it. This is God speaking! Are you ready? Did you come prepared? I also heard a great message week before last about how we approach the preaching event from a church/congregational/believer standpoint called, The Cross and Christian Preaching, and it was awesome in its application. Jim Shaddix, preaching at Brooks Hills Church in Birmingham, AL.
D. Main thought: Today we are going to look at Jesus as the vine
A. He Just Is (v. 1)
1. Jesus begins this teaching with the final of the seven famous “I AM” statements of the book of John. And although there are seven main ones, there are several more in the gospel and in other books of the NT. Read some of Tozer’s thoughts from his chapter on why it is important to think rightly about God. So for a moment or two, let’s think about Jesus. Let’s raise our thoughts about Him. He is the incomprehensible, self-existent, self-sufficient, eternal, infinite, immutable, omniscient, omnipresent, all-wise, all-powerful, absolutely faithful, absolutely good, completely just, fully merciful and infinitely gracious, holy, sovereign, majestic, most loving, most lovely King of kings and Lord of lords! He is higher than the highest thoughts that you can think. He just is! Shear, absolute reality!
2. Illustration: “We tend to be disquieted by the thought of One who does not account to us for His being, who is responsible to no one, who is self-existent, self-independent, and self-sufficient…To admit that there is One who lies beyond us, who exists outside of all our categories, who will not be dismissed with a name, who will not appear before the bar of our reason, nor submit to our curious inquiries: this requires a great deal of humility, more than most of us possess, so we save face by thinking God down to our level, or at least down to where we can manage Him. Yet how He eludes us! For He is everywhere while He is nowhere, for “where” has to do with matter and space, and God is independent of both. He is unaffected by time or motion, is wholly self-dependent and owes nothing to the worlds His hands have made” –Tozer, flipping channels the other night saw the end of this guy’s interview of America’s Got Talent, gay guy singing opera, and the standing ovation that he got before he was even finished
3. He is! “The man who comes to a right belief about God is relieved of 10,000 temporal problems, for he sees at once that these have to do with matters that at the most cannot concern him for very long; but even if the multiple burdens of time may be lifted from him, the one mighty single burden of eternity begins to press down upon him with a weight more crushing than all the woes of the world piled one upon another. ” But don’t think that the purpose of thinking about God is to be relieved of problems. The purpose of dwelling upon the True Vine is to find your joy! See verse 11. Lose yourself in the person of Christ, in the depth of His majesty, in the wonder of His being, so that your joy in God would be supreme, and the world might know that He is the greatest treasure in all the world. Deuce’s experience in the Sugar World