JULY 31, 2016

MAIN TEXT:  JOHN 15:1-11

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine;you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me,so have I loved you. Abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full."

 


We conclude our I Am series today.  These 7 weeks, we have shaped our thinking about Jesus as we have looked at the seven “I AM” statements Jesus made concerning His identity.  John’s account is unique.  It was written “That you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”  This theme of belief and trust in Jesus has been constant throughout our study.  Our text today is a continuation of the conversation we referenced last week, known as the “Farewell Discourse” (John 14-17).  Jesus is in the Upper Room with His disciples celebrating the Passover meal.  This was His last meal with His disciples before He would be betrayed and crucified.

 The Picture

Jesus is True Vine  
The Vine was a familiar metaphor for God’s people in the Old Testament.  The nation of Israel was described as a vine that God took out of Egypt, and planted.  (Psalm 80)  The prophet Hosea described Israel as a Vine that had yielded its fruit, meaning that God was blessing and prospering them, but then fell away.  In the Passover meal, the fruit of the vine was a similar symbol of God’s goodness to his people.  Here, Jesus identifies himself as the True Israel.  The True Vine.  In relation to the branches, the Vine is the source of life.  It is the point of origin.  It is the sustaining force.  The branch thrives only as an extension of the Vine.  Jesus is the author and perfector of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).

The Father, the Gardener
Most of us probably don’t immediately think of a gardener when we think of God.  But in this picture, The Father is the One who cares for the Vine.  The branches that do not bear fruit are cut off, while the branches that bear fruit are pruned to become more fruitful.  Grape vines grow vigorously, but will produce inferior fruit unless they are pruned.  Pruning is a drastic process.  This can involve substantial removal of the previous years’ growth.  This also means that the Gardener has a good deal of control over the shape of the plant.  Here we see the Father’s loving care in our process of change, sanctification.  He prunes us, and causes us to bear fruit.  

You are a Branch!  
As a follower of Jesus, you are the branch!  As such, fruit bearing is a primary objective.  What is fruit?  In the New Testament, fruit is the result of a life transformed(Galatians 5).

For the Christ follower, bearing fruit is not optional.  This does not contradict salvation by grace through faith.  While our works do not save us, good works should mark our lives as those who have been saved (Ephesians 2:10, Matthew 5:16).

We are the branches,  but we often don’t think of ourselves that way.  This can cause frustration, self-deception, and ultimately desperation, in multiple areas of our lives, especially faith.  Our culture values independence, self-reliance, and will power.  We must recognize our part in the process of bearing fruit. Jesus commands us to abide or remain in Him.

Abide

Our instruction, as branches, is to abide in the Vine.  The word “abide” is a very common word.  It means “to stay, to remain.”  What does this mean?  How do we do this?  The text gives us two indications: 

Abide in His Love
To remain in the love of Christ is to have a continual, abiding trust in his Love.  This is lifeblood for a follower of Jesus.  This is the sap of the Vine.  Abiding in His Love means trusting in His love for you, today.

Abide in His Word
o remain in His word isn’t a matter of reading alone.  It isn’t even a matter of keeping commandments.  Again, it’s a matter of trust.  To remain in His Word means that we trust in the truth of His Word, the gospel message, to the point that it shapes our behavior.  Our behavior isn’t the essence of abiding, but rather the evidence of it. As human beings, we are lifeless apart from Jesus.  We can do nothing.  All of our efforts are in vain.  All of our idols are lifeless counterfeits.  Anything else we look to for peace, purpose, life will not satisfy.  But as we remain in Him, renouncing our idols, may we be empowered by the Spirit to joyfully bear fruit for His glory.

“May we be fruitful branches as we abide in Christ, The True Vine!”

 

 


In Community

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.


BLESS RHYTHMS

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

DISCUSS THE MESSAGE

Read: John 15:1-11

What does it mean the Jesus is the “True Vine”?

What other counterfeit “vine” do you find most appealing?

As a branch, how can you “abide” in Christ?