Message: Part 7: Jesus is the Vine
Scripture Text: John 15:5
1. We’re ending the season of Lent this week as we transition into Holy Week and Easter.
a. There are 7 “I Ams” statements Jesus makes throughout John’s Gospel, and they are the glue which holds it together.
b. We have been spending each week through
Lent looking at an “I Am” statement in the order they appear in John’s gospel and how they have the power to unfreeze your faith and draw you into intimate relationship with God.
2. The last “I Am” is in John 15:5
a. This is my favorite “I Am,” because it was the inspiration for a worship community I helped start in Lakeland, FL called “Vine.”
i. We loved how it symbolized organic, tangled, growing.
b. As the last in the series of 7 “I Ams,” it is the “destination” I am. It summarizes all Jesus has said and points the way forward.
c. Throughout this series, we’ve seen parallels in John’s gospel between Jesus’ statements and the Old Testament story of Moses & Exodus from Egypt.
i. Bread (Manna); Light (pillar of fire); Gate (Passover); Shepherd (Moses himself); Resurrection (set free from slavery in Egypt) and Way (parting the Red Sea). – the Promised Land, Israel as Vineyard
ii. Jesus puts himself squarely in the middle of the Jews’ favorite story of God’s salvation and deliverance to safety and blessing.
d. And so in this final “I Am” Jesus compares himself with the final destination of the Exodus: The Promised Land.
i. When the Hebrews settled back into their home after their desert wanderings, they could literally plant vineyards again to grow fruit and make wine.
ii. But figuratively they could spread out, grow their families, live fruitful lives.
iii. Throughout the Old Testament, particularly in Psalms and Prophets, the people of Israel themselves are portrayed as a vine, bearing fruit of praise and glory to Yahweh, the Great “I Am.”
e. The Promised Land is a big deal for Jews. It’s the idea that God is still leading them to a safe place to live.
i. And here’s Jesus saying, “It’s not a place anymore, it’s me. I am your Promised Land. I’m your new home.”
f. Where is your ‘home?’ Where is place of safety and fruitful living where you long to get to and stay, or come back to if you wander?
3. Dale Bruner in his commentary on John says that Jesus has been setting up this statement ever since Chapter 1, and, in the process, telling us what it means to ‘abide in Christ.’
a. John 1:38-42 – Jesus says the way to make Jesus your home is to ‘come and see.’ That’s faith – the willingness to trust Jesus with your life instead of looking for home elsewhere.
b. John 6:56 – seems like a horror movie but is actually a reference to worship. Originally the Passover and then the sharing of bread and cup in communion as the gathered church. Worship is coming home to Jesus.
c. John 8:31-32 – Jesus says that reading, listening, studying and applying Jesus’ teachings will lead to a life filled with truth and freedom. The fancy word for that is discipleship, the life’s work of following Jesus and growing faith.
d. John 15:9-17 – right after the “I Am,” Jesus says abiding in him means having the daily intention of following Jesus’ Commands and doing his Mission in the world. He is our home, and we work to make him others’ home as well.
e. Don’t miss Jesus’ use of plural – branches. Healthy vines produce branches going in all directions and twisting around, but all bearing fruit together. His home is always found in community with his other followers.
f. Put these things together – faith, worship, growth and work – and you’ve made your home in the promised land of freedom and fruitfulness.
4. Be careful you don’t think that you have to be fruitful before coming home to Jesus. That you have to earn the right to be here.
a. Abiding in Christ follows after making Jesus your new home.
i. The message is that once you come home, you’re home to stay. Jesus the vine will keep you safe and connected, and make fruitfulness happen in you.
b. There’s also a warning here. If you have made a faith connection with Jesus, but are cutting yourself off from him in your daily life, not bearing fruit, you will have a ‘do nothing’ existence.
i. Like rebellious teenagers who spend their time and energy wishing they were anywhere else than home, despite the security and opportunities it provides, and are always sneaking out the window at night.
ii. There are too many Christians and Churches which resist staying home with Jesus, and as a result miss out on fruitfulness.
c. Did you know that I was a pastor for about 15 years before I truly made my home with Jesus?
i. I was like an annoying neighbor who kept coming over to raid your refrigerator or borrow tools.
ii. I visited Jesus at work, and on Sundays, but really was living for myself, calling my own shots.
iii. Jesus brought me to a crisis point and challenged me to make him my home. And I’m here to tell you the difference in freedom and fruitfulness from that time to now has been stark and significant.
iv. I know where I live.
5. Something about this ever-present light is like a 100-degree sunny day for a block of ice. It has the power to unfreeze your faith.
a. For the last time I’m going to give you three ‘thaw levels’ for Jesus to unfreeze you now and over coming week – if you’re willing to go there.
b. Warm: Where is “home” for you? Where’s the safe and fruitful place you long to stay or get back to?
c. Medium: if Jesus is your abiding place, do you live there or visit occasionally? What’s been the outcome of that choice?
d. Hot: To what degree is your life’s fruitfulness defined and demonstrated in bringing Jesus’ “home” to others?