Waynedale United Methodist Church
Wednesday, April 01, 2020
Making Disciples of Jesus for the Transformation of the World!

Mar 13, 2016 Sermon

“I Am the True Vine”
John 15:1 – 8
Ted Jansen March 13, 2016  Waynedale UMC
1.)        A friend rode with a farmer upon his horse-drawn wagon. There were blinders on the horse, and as they rode along, the friend noticed the farmer frequently saying, “Now, keep pulling, Cinnamon… That’s the way, Gertrude… A little harder, Dakota…” Finally, the friend asked, “Why do you keep calling all these different names when there’s just one horse?” The farmer replied, “So my horse will think there are others pulling too. If he thinks he’s alone, he’ll quit!”
2.)        How many times have you gone through a tough time with the assurance that you were not alone?  Your confidence was not with blinders on and someone telling you that others were around you.  You had proof that you were not alone.  You had people and God’s presence with you.      
            Jesus is giving assurance that the disciples will not be alone in the coming hours and days and weeks.  Jesus speaks words of truth to the disciples in the Upper Room.  The words from John 15 are spoken by Jesus after they all shared the Passover meal.  These words are after Jesus washed their feet.  These words are after he broke the bread and poured the wine and spoke of His Body and His blood and a new covenant.  These word are spoken after Judas left that room to betray Jesus.  Jesus knows His time is important and very limited.  
            Jesus wants to make sure that the disciples are prepared for when He is betrayed, beaten, denied and crucified.  Jesus knows that God will raise Him up and has told the disciples this but they don’t understand.  Jesus was preparing the disciples when they would feel alone.    
3.)        Can we ever be prepared for someone you know and love to leave, to be physically gone?  I am not sure you can.  You live your life in connection, in relationship with people, you are together with people.  To be alone is hard.  . 
Sue’s Mom and Dad to celebrate their 70th anniversary.  70 years together!  That is great.  When I talk to my Mom in Pa she is lonely for my Dad who passed away three years ago.
We know that we will lose loved ones but we are never prepared to be alone.  
            You might be feeling alone, you might feel unconnected to those closest to you, you might feel distant from your family, your friends, to God.  There might be people around you but you feel emotionally alone or distant from others.   
            Jesus felt the pain of being alone and shared words to His disciples that you can hear.    
4.)        Jesus said to His disciples, “I am the true vine and my father is the gardener… I am the vine; you are the branches.” (John 15:1, 5)
            The image of the vine was common.  Jesus and the disciples would have wine to drink as a part of the Passover.  Wine comes from grapes, a fruit that is enjoyable to eat. 
Grapes are picked from the branches that are connected to the vine.  If you have grapes it is because you had branches that were connected to a vine.  The vine was the beginning source of nutrients, water, and soil.  If you don’t have a vine you don’t have grapes.     
            Jesus says that He is the source of life, the vine.  We are the branches and without our connection to the vine we are alone.    
            The imagery of our life with Christ is one of being connected to the source of life.  I want to share three statements that a gleaned from Jesus’ teaching as it relates Him being the vine. 
5.)        a.)        When I stay connected to the vine I will listen to the Lord.  In John 15:4 Jesus says, “remain” in me.  Some versions use the term “abide.”   It is mentioned a number of times.   
            It is a daily decision to stay connected, to remain, to abide, in the vine.  We can detach from God and try to live life on our own but it won’t work. 
b.)        How do you remain?  You make a commitment to be in worship, to read scripture, to take time to pray, to allow others to speak to you.  As we connect to the vine through these spiritual practices we can listen to God.  We might hear God say to us, “you are child of God, I love you.”  We might hear God say, “express your love for me by doing something practical for your neighbor.”    
            c.)        The disciples needed to remember Jesus word when He was gone from them.  To be connected means to listen.  
6.)        a.)        When I stay connected to the vine I will go through hard times.  I will have pain because of pruning.   This is hard.  A gardener who wants to see growth does something that appears to goes against that idea.  A gardener will cut a healthy branch and cause pain so that the plant will be healthy.  This pruning allows growth to be focused in more productive areas of the plant. 
            Pruning also has to do with branches that are already dead.  They get trimmed off because they are a burden and not helping the plant.       In the book, The God We Can Know, we read these words on page 79.  
            “At other times the gardener cuts away dead branches completely.  These are the branches that aren’t growing.  They are dead.  They don’t have the hope of producing.  They just weigh down the vine. 
            Again, let’s make spiritual application.  What nonproductive branches might we identify in our personal lives? Regrets?  Living in the past?  Resentments?  Bitterness? Envy?  Dead limbs can’t sap energy from the vine, but it takes energy to keep them propped up.  Holding on to heavy weight takes a lot of effort: the limbs must be cut away. 
            Some counselors say depression works this way.  When we are depressed, it sometimes means that we are suppressing feelings.  We are holding something inside, afraid or unwilling to let it out.  We don’t want to admit that we are resentful or angry, so we stuff it down.  It takes energy to suppress and hold in these emotions, energy that robs us of feeling alive.”
b.)        How do you understand and accept pruning in your life?  This is not easy but involves being honest with yourself, and allowing others to be honest with you. 
            There have been times when I was critical of persons and it was expressed in ways that were hurtful to that person.  I could not see what I had done, or was not wanting to see how I treated people.  Sue, at times, has pointed things out to me that I could not see.  She was honest.  Ouch!  When people are honest with you it can hurt.  I will help grow you that is for sure.     
            When I hurt someone I have to apologize for my behavior and ask for forgiveness. 
            Pruning cuts out and off dead things and alive things so that growth will occur.      
            c.)        The disciples were rebuked and scolded by Jesus.  He also offered His grace and forgiveness.              
7.)        a.)        When I stay connected to the vine I will produce fruit.  Grapes taste good. Grapes are the result of the vine and branches staying connected and letting the vine produce the fruit. 
            Paul writes about fruit in Galatians 5:22.  He doesn’t talk about grapes but of the fruit of the Spirit.  This is spiritual fruit that can grow inside of us and come to the outside. 
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.  
            When you have this fruit in your life it tastes good.  You enjoy life and cause joy in others.     
            b.)        What do you do with your fruit?  We produce fruit to give it away.  If you are a joyous person, share joy with others.  If you seek to be gentle, let that spirit bring calm to a situation that is needed.  When you share fruit good things are experienced.           
Several persons shared their appreciation to me for my sermons.  It made me feel good that something that was produced in me was helpful and meaningful.  
c.)        The disciples, the ones who ran away when the times got tough, produced fruit, by the Holy Spirit, that changed the world.    
8.)        Jesus spoke and taught the disciples about the vine so that they would have an understanding of their relationship with God.  They would always have the vine to be connected to.  They would not be alone.      
            Jesus was alone for a period of time when He was facing the cross and dying.  Listen to Jesus’s words and how Mark describes that time.  At the sixth hour darkness came over the whole land until the ninth hour.  And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, Eloi Eloi, lama sabachthani? Which means, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me.?”   (Mark 15:33, 34)
9.)        You can sense a spirit that feels broken and alone.  Jesus carried the sins of the world on his shoulders and experienced darkness and being all alone.    
            The Message Translation uses the phrase, “why did you abandon me?”  The Contemporary English Version uses the phrase, “why have you deserted me?”  The New Century Version uses the phrase, “why have you rejected me?”  
            Forsaken, abandoned, deserted, rejected.  These are the words that Jesus used to describe His relationship with His Heavenly Father on the cross for that period of time.
            Jesus Christ knew what it is like to be disconnected from God, the source of life.  It is a terrible place to be.  He was alone. 
That is why He loved the disciples and He loves you and wants you to hear His voice as He says, I am the vine.  You don’t have to go through life alone. 
10.)      Someone is here and I want to connect you to the Lord through prayer.  I want you to stand while we are all bowing our heads so that I can pray specifically for you.  This is done in love and care.  I want you to know the love of the Father who gave us the Son and the Holy Spirit.