Andy Jone's Sermon

May 2, 2021

          Lord, let the meditation of my thoughts and the words from my lips be

pleasing to you.   Holy spirit, please be with every person who hears this message. 

Give them the blessing of understanding God’s word in whatever manner each

person needs.  Amen.

          Today we examine John chapter 15’s discussion of one aspect of the

Christian’s relationship with Jesus and God.  One significant word in the sermon

reading is abide.   LaVerne’s Webster’s tells me the definition of abide is dwell,

remain and last.  Let’s look at those three concepts as they relate to John’s gospel.

          In the Old Testament, the nation of Israel was depicted as a vine planted by

God in the land flowing with milk and honey.  God wanted Israel, to be his

vineyard to worship him and produce fruit, much fruit.  Many of the books of the

Old Testament are stories of the various prophets God sent to his vineyard to

monitor, tend and prune the vines.  Sometimes the prophets were successful,

sometimes not so much.  At various points the weeds took total control of the

vineyard and God decided that the vineyard had to be destroyed and then

replanted.  We recall the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem as one example of the

vineyard being destroyed and then replanted when the exiles returned to Jerusalem.

          With the birth of Jesus, God is starting a new vineyard with a new hybrid

vine.  This vine will fulfill the prophesy of coming from the line of David and, in

addition, it will have divine DNA. 

In verse one Jesus presents himself as the true vine and God will be the

vinedresser.  Early on in the reading we understand that the goal of all this effort is

the production of fruit.  Without fruit, why invest so much effort in growing and

maintaining the vine?  Please note that fruit is singular. 

So what fruit is to be found on the branched of this true vine?  I believe the

fruit is love.  If we recall John 13: verses 34 and 35 Jesus said “I give you a new

commandment, that you love one another.  Just as I have loved you, you should

love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have

love for one another.”    However, this fruit is not just for the disciples, not just for

the Jews, it is for all humanity including all gentiles.  We recall Matthew 5: verse

44 Jesus said “I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute

you.” 

          Just now important is the bearing of fruit?  John gives us this promise from

Jesus to consider.  Every branch that bears fruit God prunes to make it bear more

fruit.  It is not enough for me to say I love my wife.  While it is good for me to say

I love my in laws, it is not enough.  While it is good for me to say I love the

members of the congregation, it is still not enough.  I must expand the universe

of ones that I love.  If I wish to be the good branch producing much fruit, my

universe of love has to expand to include those that may not or do not love me.  I

do not need to worry about them loving me.  That will be their burden.  My

objective must be to produce fruit, much fruit. 

          Just as a real vine must be cleaned from harmful insects, mildew,

and fungus, a Christian vine will need to be cleaned from worldly things that

distract them from producing fruit.  John tells us that the cleansing agent is the

Word. 

          In verses four thru seven we encounter the term abide.  To abide means to

dwell, remain and stay where you have been placed in Christ.  In our daily walk,

we should stay in fellowship with Christ.  The branch abides in a vine by drawing

all of its life and nourishment from the vine.  We abide in Christ by investing time

in prayer, reading His Word, fellowship with other Christians, and being

continually conscious of our relationship with and our obligations to Him. 

The branch can only bear fruit as it abides in the vine.  They only way we

can bear Christ’s fruit is by living in touch with Christ moment by moment.

Christ is the vine and his disciples are the branches that will be tended by God.   It

is not a question of the branch living its life for the vine, but simply allowing the

life of the vine flow out thru the branch.  Without the good and willing branch,

there will not be any fruit.

          Any gardener will explain to you that the vine branch has only one purpose

in life, to bear fruit.  The branch will never grow large enough to be lumber to

build anything.  It doesn’t even make good firewood.  However, the branch can

produce fruit, much fruit as long as it abides in the vine.

          Abiding in Christ is the key to becoming a fruit bearing disciple.  The

disciple must dwell in Him.  The disciple must remain in Him.  The disciple must

establish a lasting relationship with Him.  The closer the disciple gets to Christ, the

more they learn to think like Him.  The more the disciple gets to know Him thru

the Word, the more the disciple understands His will.  The more the disciple’s will

agrees with His, the more confident the disciple is that whatever they wish will be

done for them.  God wants the branch to produce fruit.

          As the true disciples of God bear fruit by exhibiting the likeness of Christ to

the world, John tells us the Father is glorified.  God must be great if he can take

humans who decide to become disciples and transform them into His likeness.  At

that point the branch has born fruit, much fruit and this world moves a little closer

to what God desires for all people.

          What is the message for his twenty first century disciples?  When was the

 last time you read a newspaper headline or listened to a news report on the radio,

or watched the nightly news on television without being exposed to a story of

somebody hating somebody else so much that they struck, or attacked, or killed

somebody else?  Everybody looks for a motive, an explanation of why.  I believe I

have the answer.  In its simplest term, there was no fruit. 

          We listen to our politicians praise themselves and blame others for all of the

problems of the world.  The only thing that seems to change is the speaker being

quoted.  There is no fruit.

          Perhaps just for one day, if all of us can pledge to love everyone we meet, a

new branch might sprout.  If we can extend our pledge for a second day, perhaps

the branch might grow.  If we can extend our pledge for a third day, perhaps the

branch will show signs of fruit.  With God’s help and an embrace of the Holy

Spirit in each of our lives, we might even reach the point of a harvest, a bountiful

harvest in the Ebensburg vineyard.

Truth be told, each of us has the power to bear fruit, much fruit.  Will you

consider abiding in Jesus?  Will you consider bearing fruit, much fruit?  My wish

for you is an exceeding bountiful harvest.  Please join in a closing prayer. 

Gracious God, we are created in your image.  You have provided the seed,

the soil, the sunshine and the rain to establish a vineyard on Earth where all

humanity can enjoy the fruit of love.   Far too often we have tended to the wrong

plants that produce, hate, envy, injustice, a lust for power or money or both. 

Enable, guide, and encourage your disciples to be the fruit bearing branches of the

true vine of Christ to accomplish your will.  Help us learn to love.  Amen.