Randall Caselman

Bella Vista Church of Christ

03/01/2020 A.M.

 

THE I AM SAYING OF JESUS

I Am The Vine – You Are The Branches

John 15.1-12

 

This morning we continue our series on the I AM SAYING OF JESUS.

 

At Mount Sinai Moses asked God who shall I say sent me... God replied ehyeh asher ehyeh  (A-HAY-YA A-SHER  A-HAY-YA... I AM THAT I AM...Three words in the Hebrew... Five in English... Two in Aramaic.

 

We’ve heard Jesus say...

• I am He...

• I am the Bread of life...

• The Light of the world...

• The Good Shepherd...

• I Am The resurrection and the life...

Each time Jesus said I AM... He was saying... I am... Jehovah... Lord... YAHWEH... I am God.

 

This morning... We hear Him say... I AM THE VINE... YOU ARE THE BRANCHES... My father is the gardener.

 

Access a Worship Handout or Bible and let’s read our text from John chapter fifteen... We begin reading with the verse numbered one...

 

The setting is what we call... The Farewell or Upper Room Discourse... It began with the Passover Supper where Jesus washed feet... And continues through chapter seventeen... Ending as they cross the Kidron into the Garden.

 

John 15.1... “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 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. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.

 

Our lesson will center around...

• Understanding Israel as God’s Vine...

• Jesus as the true vine...

• We as branches...

• God as the gardener...

• And the fruit God expects of us.

 

First...We examine the vine...

Vineyards were and are scattered across the countryside of the Middle East... Often in places where they aren’t expected to be...

• Some in courtyards...

• Along roads and walking paths...

• Some across barren landscape extending out for hundreds of yards.

 

Until the development of Modern Water Purification Methods... Wine was the primary source of hydration in areas of little or poor water supplies.

 

The practice of viticulture was an essential part of the Israeli economy... Dating back as far as Noah who both grew grapes and made wine.

 

The vine became the national symbol for Israel... Much like the eagle in America.

 

Not only was Israel symbolized by the vine nationally... She was God’s vine religiously.

Listen to Psalm eighty...... Verses 8 through 15...

 

You... God... Brought a vine out of Egypt...

You drove out the nations and planted it.

You cleared the ground for it...

It took root and filled the land.

Return to us, O God Almighty!

Look down from heaven and see!

Watch over this vine Your right hand has planted...

The Son you have raised up for Yourself.

 

Listen to this from Isaiah chapter five... As I read this I want you to think of the MANY things God did for Israel to help them become His people… His Vine…

 

I will sing a song about God and His vineyard:

He 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 winepress as well.

Then he looked for a crop of good grapes... But it yielded only bad fruit.

Now you dwellers in Jerusalem and men of Judah...

Judge between Me and My vineyard.

What more could have been done for My vineyard than I have done for it?

The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the house of Israel...

The men of Judah are the garden of his delight.

He looked for justice... But saw bloodshed...

He looked for righteousness... But heard cries of distress.

 

Jeremiah 2.21 reads speaking of Israel...

I planted you likea choice vine of sound and reliable stock.

How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?

 

History tells us that… During the time of the Maccabees... Israeli coins were minted with vines stamped on them.

 

In Jesus’ Day... Herod’s Temple was replete with a huge vine covered with Pure Gold.

 

Josephus tells us that... This vine... Its branches... And clusters of grapes... As tall as a man... Spread out from the highest point on the Temple.

 

I think we can assume that as Jesus and the Eleven walked by the Temple… On their way from the Upper-Room to the Garden… Jesus sees theVine and this prompts this Discourse.

 

But here it is church... Israel failed in her role as God’s Vine... As the Prophets had said... Israel had become a degenerate and wild vine...

• Producing sin instead of the righteousness of God...

IDOLATRY instead of heartfelt worship...

Bloodshed instead of Justice.

 

Next... We see Jesus as the true vine.

I am the vine… Jesus is acknowledging that there was a Vine… But it failed to be God’s.

 

You see… What God wanted... What God intended... Israel to be... Jesus became.

• Instead of producing Sin... Jesus became the righteousness of God... God’s person without sin.

• Instead of Idolatry... Jesus Worshiped God in all that He did... Keeping the Law perfectly.

• Instead of Hate & Bloodshed... Jesus’ life was about Love and Justice.

 

As God’s vine...

• Israel produced wild fruit...

• Sin...

• Injustice...

• Idolatry...

• Hate...

• Bloodshed.

But Paul wrote of Jesus... For if, by the trespass of the one man... Adam... Death reigned through that one man, how much more will those who receive God’s abundant provision of grace and of the gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man... Jesus Christ.

 

Here it is Church... We are God’s intended Israel when we become like Jesus... When we take on... His Heart... His Attitude... His Disposition... and Behavior… Can I say that again?

 

We are God’s intended Israel when we conform to the image of Jesus in our… Thinking… Disposition… and Behavior.

 

Well... How do we do that?... How do we become like Jesus?...

Our text tells us by allowing the Vine & the Gardener to do their work in us...

Come... Let’s see what we can learn...

 

First...We must learn to submit to the Gardener’s pruning.

I am the Vine... You are the branches... My Father is... the GardEner... The Vinedresser.

 

As the Gardener... God does two things... Called PRUNING...

 

1. He cuts of dead branches that bear no fruit...Bundles them together and they’re burned.

 

2. He prunes... Cleanses... Each fruit-bearing branch so that it bears more fruit.

 

The vinedresser looks for any shoots that didn’t bear fruit last season... For one reason or another... It may have been...Diseased... Damaged... Or abused in some way.

 

So… He cuts this off so that the nutrients and energy of the plant is not wasted on… Unfruitful... Diseased… or Damaged… Branches.

 

I think we will all agree that Judas is an exampleof the dead branch here... One that will not produce any fruit… One that needs to be removed before it damages the whole vine.

 

If Judas is the dead branch in this narrative... Anyone who rebels against Jesus as God in the flesh must be considered a dead branch… Even today!!

 

I believe Jesus addresses such dead branches in the parable in Matthew 21.33 beginning... There was a landowner who planted a vineyard. He put a wall around it, dug a winepress in it and built a watchtower. Then he rented the vineyard to some farmers and went away on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his servants to the tenants to collect his fruit. “The tenants seized his servants; they beat one, killed another, and stoned a third. He sent other servants to them, more than the first time, and the tenants treated them in the same way. Last of all, he sent his son to them. ‘They will respect my son,’ he said. “But when the tenants saw the son, they said to each other, ‘This is the heir. Come, let’s kill him and take his inheritance.’ So they took him and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.

 

Not only do vinedressers remove dead and diseased branches… He gets to the exacting work of pruning each branch and shoot for maximum fruit production.

• Sometimes this is... Lifting the branch up out of the mud... Washing it off... Tying it up...So that it doesn’t mold or mildew.

• Sometimes extra shoots are pinched off... They are suckers... Shoots that produce leaves but no grapes... They must be trimmed back so that the grape cluster receives the nutrients... Not the leaves.

 

Such pruning by the Gardener is the subject of several New Testament Scriptures... Listen as I read…

 

James 1.2-4... Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

 

1 Peter 1.6-7... In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith--of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire--may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

 

Hebrews 12.5-7... My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when He rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those He loves, and He punishes everyone He accepts as a son. Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?

 

Indeed... God prunes us so that we become spiritually healthy... Producing the Fruit He desires.


For instance God may see us spending our... Time...Talent... Treasure... Energy... On things that are robbing us of Kingdom fruit production... Things like...

• Too much Television...

• Too much time with Social Media...

• Too much time spent... Complaining... Criticizing... Gossiping...

• Too much time with things rather than people.

 

Listen… Are there some suckers in my life and yours that need removing?... I’m sure there are... My prayer is that we become more understanding of God’s Pruning.

 

Something else we should note here... There are times that churches need pruning... Things that keep us from God’s Kingdom work!

 

It’s possible for we as a church family to become focused on wrong things...
Signs… Technology... Budgets... Parking lots... Etc... Amen?

 

The second thing that helps us in fruit production is something we do... Staying attached to the Vine... Abiding in Him so He can remain in us.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing... Zilch!!

 

Jesus indicates here that we were created to become significant...

 

We were made to be Fruitful!

Bearing Fruit… Being Spiritually Fruitful places a lot of stress on a person as we strive to make something of ourselves. But the metaphor of the vine isn’t about striving... But of remaining... Abiding.

 

It’s interesting to note that... The word remain or abide appears ten times in the twelve verses of our text.

 

The Greek is mone... It means... Remain...Abide... It speaks of a living Space... A home. It is the same word used by Jesus in John 14... In My Father’s house are many mansions... Rooms... Abodes... MONE...

 

In 14.23... Jesus says... If anyone loves Me, he will obey My teaching. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our... Home... Abode... Lodging... Dwelling... Mone...With him.

 

The idea is that if we stay attached to the vine...The sap... The strength... The nutrients... Flowing in the VINE... Flows into us as branches... Allowing His strength to become our strength...

 

No wonder we find Paul saying I can do all things through Christ... Who gives me strength.

 

Well... How do we stay attached to the vine?

 

In John 8.31-32 Jesus tells us how... If you abide in My Word... You are truly my disciple... You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.

 

John 17.17 says... Sanctify them by the truth... Your word is truth.

 

1 Peter 1.22 reads... Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for your brothers, love one another deeply, from the heart.

 

So... Walking in the Word keeps us attached to the vine.

 

This brings us to our final point... That has to do with fruit bearing...

What is the fruit God expects us to bear?

 

I hope you don’t think that the fruit God desires in us is just coming to church on Sunday Mornings.

 

I hope the only difference between us and the world is not where our car is parked on Sunday Morning...Amen.

• John the Baptist said... The fruit God was looking for was... repentance... A changed lifestyle.

 

• Paul insisted that God created and called us to good works that He sets before us.

 

• In Philippians... Our fruit is to conform to the image of Jesus… Having His… Heart… Disposition… And behavior.

 

• If God... If Jesus... Lives in us through the Spirit He gave us... Our daily walk will produce the Fruit of the Spirit... Love... Joy... Peace... Patience...Kindness... Goodness... Faithfulness... Gentleness... And Self-control.

 

So the invitation and challenge this morning is to become attached to the vine... How do we do that?...

 

Paul tells us... We are children of God by faith in Jesus Christ... For as many as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ... Have been clothed with Christ...Have been attached to the Vine.

 

This same John tells us that... If we walk in the light of His Word... We have fellowship with Him & the Father... Fellowship means... Attachment... Abiding... Remaining.

 

And as we remain attached... The blood of Jesus continues to cleanse our sins.

 

I want to be… In Christ... Clothed with Christ… Atttached to the Vine… And all the blessings that brings... Don’t you?

 

What do you and I need to do this morning to be attached to the Vine?

What do we need to do to… stay attached… To abide in the Vine?

Decide… As we stand and sing together.