Abiding Sanctified

John 15:5

 

We need to do a self-checkup of our spiritual health. Are you distant these days from God? Can you hardly remember the last time your life was fruitful?

 

Do you feel far from joy and peace, victory and blessing? Do you hope that no one gets too close and asks you personal questions? Does your Bible feel as heavy as lead when you pick it up? Do my challenges for you to jump in to serve and speak up for Christ push you away? Do you wonder if you’ll get any reward in Heaven. In fact, do you just hope that you will ever get there? Has the zeal you once knew dried up, and become a far off memory?

 

If these or a myriad of other telltale signs of spiritual listlessness and barrenness have cast their shadows across your path, then Christ's invitation to His spiritual gardening clinic is for you. Come to the vineyard and learn. Listen to Jesus as He introduces us to God’s vineyard.

 

Get a Spiritual Check up

 

Jesus is talking about grapes. Nothing was clearer in the 1st Century Judea than vineyards to these men. They lived, walked, slept and ate often in the very shadow of the vine. The seasons of each Israelite’s life were marked by the heavy clusters of fall grapes, the joys of harvest; the winter pruning of the vines; the first buds of spring; the vigorous growth of summer; and the joys of fall’s harvest again!

 

Jesus sums up everything about His relationship to us in John 15. All we need He has supplied (that is a summary of His teaching from John 1-14). Now in John 15 He describes the delivery system. A promise is only as good as the delivery system.

 

Question: How Does God Make Us Fruitful?

 

Open with me to Christ's explanation of what He wants from each of us who know Him this morning. That explanation is in John 15.1-8. As we turn there let me remind you that Jesus chose a very special image to help us grasp what He was ordering. Like a catalog with pictures – He paints a picture for us so we would be clear on what He desires from us.

 

You can live next to Hoover Dam but not have water or power if there are no lines to transport them to you. Jesus explains our life long relationship with Him in these precious words of John 15.5 and every word is packed with powerful truth.

 

Vs. 5 I AM the Vine and you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in Him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”

 

Jesus who is the Eternal Unchanging God of the Universe opens His arms to us opening an intimate and personal relationship directly with us.

 

Jesus gives the seventh and final declaration of His Divine relationship to us. In God's Word a seven part truth is a completed set. Jesus says that I AM all you need, needed, and will ever need. And in John 15 explains – how to get and keep everything He has promised us.

·        He started in John 6.35 revealing Himself by saying: “I AM the Bread” we need to never perish, then in John 8.12 by declaring: “I AM the Light” we need to live.

·        In John 10 He opens to us the truth that He is related to us in two more ways: “I AM the Door” we need to enter God’s Presence; as well as “I AM the Good Shepherd” we need -- who loves, leads, gives Himself to care for us.

·        At the grave of His friend Lazarus in John 11.25-27 Jesus tells us that “I AM the Resurrection Life” all that we need to live here and there in serenity and security. As the hymn writers say: “no guilt in life, no fear in death Jesus has set my destiny”!

·        In the Upper Room Jesus comforts His troubled disciples in John 14.6 with the three-fold cord that can’t be broken as He promises “I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. The way for today, the truth for tomorrow and the life for evermore.

 

When Jesus speaks to His disciples in John 15, He was emphasizing the familiar to portray the eternal. The vine was part and parcel of Jewish imagery, and the very symbol of Israel. The vine was grown all over Palestine as it still is. It is a plant needing a great deal of attention if the best fruit is to be gotten from it. It is grown commonly on terraces. The ground has to be perfectly clean. It is sometimes trained on trellises; it is sometimes allowed to creep over the ground upheld by low-forked sticks; it sometimes even grows round the doors of the cottages; but wherever it grows careful preparation of the soil is essential. It grows luxuriantly and drastic pruning is necessary. So luxuriant is it that the slips are set in the ground at least twelve feet apart, for it will creep over the ground at speed.

 

JESUS USES A UNIVERSAL IMAGE: there was no one living in Israel in the time of Christ’s ministry that had not seen a vine and its branches – except maybe the blind who had escaped the healing touch of Jesus. So when he set out to explain the relationship that he desired from those who were his own children – he used the vivid image of the vine and branches.

 

JESUS USES A HISTORICAL IMAGE: After the Old Testament era the identification continued, in fact the vine is the national symbol for Israel on the coins of the Maccabean Period (167-63BC). By the time of Christ's ministry the Temple of Herod had made the vine and branches to be the glory of the area in front of the Holy Place. Herod’s Golden Vine was the spot that the Jews could bring golden clusters of grapes to hang as an offering to the glory of the God of Israel – and many did. Many wealthy people brought a new bunch of grapes and the not as wealthy would bring a new grape to hang on to that vine. So to all in Israel as John records these words of Jesus the vine and branches were the very symbol of Israel. But Jesus changes the symbolism and declares in v. 1 that He is the true vine.

 

Jesus also used the vine as a:

 

BIBLICAL IMAGE

NEGATIVE IMAGE

VIVID IMAGE

SOBERING IMAGE

 

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