9 Jan 2011 Sunday
John 15:1-16 (NIV)
The Vine and the Branches
1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 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.
3 You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, as I also 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. 5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear
much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that
is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain
in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my
Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. 9 “As the Father has
loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in
my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so
that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other
as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant
does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned
from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed
you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name
the Father will give you.
Grace and Peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ! Greetings from
the church in America! Greetings from theology seminary in America where I
teach, good morning to all of you!
It is a great honor for me to be here with you today. I’ve been with some of your
pastors and some of your church leaders for the last few days, talking about
small group ministries, it has been a very, very good time together. I am so
encouraged and excited by what the Lord is doing here in China, and especially
here at Haidian Church, you are making a difference for the Kingdom of God!
God is moving among your congregation, God is doing some very good things!
I have been so proud to be a part of your church for these past few days.
Today I want to talk about vibrant Faith. Jesus calls us to a life of
discipleship. True discipleship means that we commit our whole life to Jesus
Christ and to the family believers that we called the Church. This type of vibrant
Faith, this type of discipleship brings joy into our lives. It sets us apart onto a
whole new path in life, and it allows persons and churches to engage in the
task that Jesus has called us to, -- to extent the Good News of the Gospel
to the world!
You’ve just heard from this marvelous passage from John 15, Jesus
describes Himself as the “Vine”, as a great Vine. Jesus originally says and
what we have heard this image known immediately that was a reference
initially referring to Israel -the ancient country of Israel. Now Jesus is saying
that He is the true Vine, He is the new Israel. The God purposes are coming
upon Jesus and the Good News of Gospel extends from Jesus into the world.
Jesus says I am the anointed One, I am the chosen One, and in addition He is
speaking about us, He says these are my followers; these are my friends;
there are the people that I am giving the task of continuing to extend this
Good News to the world.
This passage is a call to action, this is not a time for us to
be complacent in our faith, this is not time for us just worry about our own
private and personal faith. In this passage, Jesus is giving us an
invitation, even more than that, Jesus is giving us the challenge that we
are to go out into all the world that we are part of, and to extend the
Good News of the Gospel.
Jesus calls us to Himself. This chosing is setting apart of us to God and
to His purposes, we are the people becoming more and more Holy.
The chosing shows that God has a great affection for us, the Bible tells us
that while we were still sinners, Jesus died for us. The Bible tells us that
we were in the mind of God from before the creation of the world. This
chosing doesn’t mean that we are people of privilege, rather this chosing
means that we are people who are to be servants to others, servants to
the world, our task is to be servants to this world in which God loves, and
extend the Good News of the Gospel.
We are chosen as a part of the Vine, so that we might bear fruit.
The purpose of a great vine is to produce grapes, fruitfulness for us means
that we live into the life that God has designed for us. Being fruitful means
we look and act more and more like Jesus, it means we take on the
characteristics of Jesus. Paul in Galations 5 talks about the Fruit of the
Spirit: “Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness,
Gentleness and Self-control”. The result of this fruitfulness in our lives is
that we become a help and blessing in our neighborhood, at our school,
at places where we work. Being fruitful means that we are helping to put
this broken world back on the path that God intends for it; Being fruitful
means that we see more and more people coming to know Jesus Christ
and become a part of His church.
In this passage, Jesus shares with us how that fruitful and effective
ministry might take place in our lives. First of all, Jesus says there is a
pruning. There is a cutting, to be effective for the Lord, sometimes it means
there would be a cutting or a refining in our lives. Sometimes this is not a
plesent process, but it is an important process in our lives! Back home in
California, I have a whole branch of rose bushes. It is my job to tend and take
care of my rose bushes. In order for my rose bushes to continue to look
beautiful, I need to cut off the dead flowers and I need to cut back the wild
and crazy vines. Sometimes this pruning is extensive; sometimes this pruning
is severe; but this pruning, this cutting of the roses allows for more and beautiful
flowers. The same thing happens in our lives, the danger for us in our lives is
that we would not live into the calling that God has designed for us. Sometimes
events and activities come into our lives that distract us, and pull us away from
In the Gospels we read the sad story about Judas. Judas was one of the twelve
apostles, he was the apostle who betrayed Jesus. Jesus says Judas was not
a clean branch on the Vine. Judas lost sight of the mission of Jesus, he
gave into the temptations that led him away from understanding of the Cross
of Jesus Christ. Judas was a dead and fruitless branch. Opposite there is
another disciple Peter. "Peter" Jesus says, "was clean." And even
though Peter went through some very serious troubles in his life,even denied
Jesus three times, still Peter was the one who was open to the Lord, who
repented of his sins, who received the Lord’s forgiveness and was given a new
charge to go into ministry that change the world. Peter was a fruitful branch,
even though there was a great pruning in his life.
The third aspect of fruitful ministry is that we are to pray in Jesus’
name. As we remain in Him, as we seek after the Lord’s Faith, our purposes
and our desires become the same as the purposes and the desires of the
Lord. As we turn to God in prayer, he answers our prayers and moves into
our lives and changes our lives. I don’t understand how prayers work all the
time, but I do know that God calls us, commands us to pray in His name.
And as we pray in the name of Jesus, we become more and more in line with
who Jesus is and what He desires for our world and for our lives.
In prayer we thank God for who he is and what he has done for us; in prayer we
confess our sins and determine that we will live a new life going down a new path;
in prayer we offer our requests for others and for ourselves. We pray
because we are convinced that we are not left alone in this world; we pray
because we are convinced that God cares about everything that is going on
in our world and in our lives; we pray because we know God can enter into our
lives and he can intervene our lives, and He can make new things happen!
The fourth aspect of fruitful ministry is we are to be people who love
each other, who love our brothers and sisters in Christ. We love each
other because we are connected to the Vine. We love because Jesus has first
loved us, we lay down our lives for each other because Jesus laid down his life
for us. We are brothers and sisters in Christ, we care for each other, we pray
for each other, we encourage each other. And because we love each other,
the world will look at us, see the love that we have for each other and know
that we are disciples of Jesus and people will be drawn to the Lord.
Jesus is the Vine, and we are the branches. We have a task, we have a mission
in the world, and that is to bear fruit in Jesus’ name! So we submit to pruning,
even though sometimes that might be very difficult in our lives, we submit to
this pruning and allow God to do a brand new work in our lives and cutting off
the things in our lives that are displeasing to Him, clinging to those things that
give great joy to the Lord. In obedience we remain in Jesus, we become people
who read the scriptures day after day after day seeking to understand what it
means in a deeper way to be a follower of Jesus Christ. We align our lives up
And we are determined to be people who look like little Jesus Christ who live,
act, speak and love just the way Jesus lived and spoke. And in hope we pray.
We know that God is active in our world, so we pray and we simply come
before the Lord and we are still before Him. We submit our lives to Him, and
let Him work in our lives and through our lives to His glory!
Finally, we remain connected to each other. Church is NOT a social club,
church fellowship is NOT a time to just get together to see some of our friends.
We are brothers and sisters in Christ, we are bonded together, committed to one another with a fierce intensity of love to do the Will of God.
Those five steps Jesus said will leads to fruitful lives and fruitful ministry. The
Fruit will be produced, this will be the Fruit that lasts, we will be changed, and
the world will be different. In all of this, the Father will be glorified, and we
will hear the best words from Jesus - Jesus will say to us: “Well done! My good
and faithful servant.” This is vibrant Faith; this is true discipleship; this is the
life that Jesus calls us to live!
Jesus says: “I am the Vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you,
you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing". (John 15:5) Amen.
Summary by Catherine
Editting by Claire