Summary: 1) THE THROW-AWAY BRANCH 2) THE PRUNED BRANCH 3) THE FRUITFUL BRANCH 4) THE CONNECTED BRANCH
(Please note that two illustrations in this sermon are taken from esermons.com)
1) THE THROW-AWAY BRANCH
2) THE PRUNED BRANCH
3) THE FRUITFUL BRANCH
4) THE CONNECTED BRANCH
Now that the weather is getting warmer, more and more people are planting flowers, planting gardens. On Highway 35, between Michigan City and LaPorte, I saw some people working in vineyard field. There are actually a large number of vineyards and wineries in this part of the country – there’s the vineyard on Highway 35, and all the way up the freeway in southwest Michigan, you see signs for wineries on the freeways. All these vineyards make this part of the country similar to the land of Israel in Jesus’ day.
Back then, growing grapes was a very important industry – it was vital to Israel’s economy. Everyone knew about growing grapes, and so Jesus used this as a picture to describe to people their relationship to him, and to God the Heavenly Father. Today we’re going to look at this picture, and see how we fit in. The question for you this morning is, what kind of branch are you?
The picture Jesus paints is a simple one. Jesus pictures himself as the main vine of the vineyard, and you are the branches that grow off of him. God the Father is the gardener. And there are different branches in the vineyard.
First, there is the “throw-away branch.” Verse 2 talks about God the Father, the gardener: “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit.” Look again at verse 6: “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire, and burned.” When a gardener is going through his vineyard, and he sees certain branches that never bear fruit, he cuts them off and throws them onto a pile, and eventually he burns that pile of dead branches. Jesus is painting a picture of people here. There are those who at one time were Christians in their lives. But then something happens to them. They stop producing fruits of faith. They stop obeying God. They stop living and talking in a Christian way. They start living and talking just like the rest of the unbelieving world. They stop producing fruits of faith in their lives.
Why does this happen to people who at one time were Christians? The answer is verse 6: “If anyone does not remain in me…” Jesus tells us that anyone who does not continue to have contact with him, through his Word, through his Sacrament – if that happens – a person loses his faith and falls away. He stops bearing fruit and becomes a throw-away branch.
Many year ago at the Tournament of Roses parade, the Standard Oil Company, now known as Chevron, had a beautiful float. In the middle of the parade the oil company’s float came to a grinding halt and the rest of the parade with it. The problem? The float ran out of gas.
The directors of the Chevron float had done everything well but they neglected to use their companies vast resources of oil. The parade waited while someone ran to get a gallon of gas.