Jesus’ Last Words to His Disciples – I am the Vine, You are the Branches

Text — John 15:1-17


  1. Introduction
    1. We have been reflecting on Jesus’ last words to his disciples during this Lenten Season.
    2. As we have worked through these chapters we have reflected upon:
      1. The Servant Leader and the Trusted Traitor
      2. The Way, The Truth, The Life
      3. The Promise of the Paraklete
    3. This week’s reflection is at the intersection of love, trust, and obedience.
  2. Exploration of the Text
    1. Jesus begins this section with a word picture of the relationship between a vine, the gardener and the branches.
    2. Verses 15:1-4, the part of the Father is decisive. He is the gardener.
      1. He expects fruitfulness and does what is necessary to maximize it.
        1. He cuts off branches that bear no fruit.
        2. He prunes, or cleanses, the fruitful branches so that they become even more fruitful
      2. A word about fruit. We are inclined to identify fruit with converts. The result is that those who do not have the gift of evangelism fear that they are fruitless branches.
        1. If you follow Jesus’ other parables you will note that “The mind of man is often compared in the Bible to ground, the Word of God to seed sown in it, and the fruit represents the actions and affections of those who receive it.”
        2. In another place Jesus talked about how that a good tree brings forth good fruit and a bad tree brings forth bad fruit.
        3. The idea here isn’t the number of souls we win to Christ as much as it is how the Gospel changes our lives. Being connected to Christ should bring a life of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. If a person who claims to be a disciple of Jesus and does not produce that fruit, he is cut off.
        4. On the other hand, God will prune or cleanse us so that we produce even more of this wonderful fruit.
      3. Verses 15:5-8, has to do with the branch’s relationship to the vine.
        1. As long as the branch stays connected to the vine it will be fruitful.
          1. Staying connected means simply to keep Christ’s commandments. There is only one way that we will intentionally keep Christ’s commandments: if we love him.
          2. Our current generation is in trouble and doesn’t know it. They say they love Jesus, but they have their own theology, much of which is heresy. They believe that they can do about anything and still be connected to Christ.
        2. What is interesting to me is that regardless of how the branch is separated from the vine, either by the gardener who purges unfruitful branches or branches who choose to separate themselves, the end result is the same they are gathered into a pile and are burned.
        3. Those who remain in the vine have the benefit of asking whatever they wish, and it will be given them.
          1. Here is an explanation for those who complain that they asked God for something, but he didn’t answer them. You must be abiding in the vine, or the promise doesn’t apply.
        4. Verses 9-17, the foundation of Friendship with God
          1. If we obey Christ’s command to love each other as he loved us, that is by laying down our lives for our friends, then we become friends of God, not simply servants
          2. A Servant in the royal terminology of the Near East meant “trusted envoy” or “confidential representative. It refers to one who has the status of a high official in the Lord’s kingly administration.
            1. Examples of servants of God would include Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David.
          3. However, the honor of “friend of God” was limited to Abraham
            1. Abraham was God’s friend because of the covenant between them
          4. A servant is simply an agent, doing what his master commands and often not understanding his master’s purpose. But Jesus takes his friends into his confidence.
          5. Jesus closes this second with a wonderful commission to bear fruit, ask whatever we want, and love one another.
  3. I would like to close this sermon a little differently. In your bulletin you have an insert. I have taken this text and turned it into a talking text. I would like you to follow along and read with me. Because He is the vine and We are the Branches.