John 15:1-8 Glorifying the Father WC McCarter
Have you ever had a moment in your life when you were completely dependent on someone else or some thing else? In that moment or season, something outside of you controlled everything. Now, maybe that was a frightening moment for you. But it illustrates the way that you are to live every day as a Christian. You are to live everyday trusting someone outside of you. You are completely dependent on another, what He can do.
I often find myself in the midst of something I know nothing about. Throughout life I am dependent on others. For example, I have learned how to do a lot of things, but I know very little about plumbing. Honestly, it is one of the things that I have not really wanted to learn. If something goes on with the plumbing at our house in Lenoir or at the parsonage, I am completely dependent on someone else to come and fix it. Another example would be car problems. I know a few things about cars. I can do a lot of the minor things, but I do not have the resources or knowledge to fix major problems. I do not have the tools. I do not have the shop. I would be completely dependent on someone else’s know-how and resources.
These are simple illustrations about being dependent upon others; but in John 15, Jesus gives us one of the greatest pictures to explain our dependence on Him. The passage we will read is a metaphor given by Jesus to explain our utter reliance upon Him.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
I Am the True Vine (1-4)
The Bible uses the metaphor of a vine and vineyard on several of occasions. Jesus uses this imagery numerous times. In every case, the metaphor is used to illustrate
’s unfruitfulness. Although
in this passage Jesus is the vine, and His point is that Christians will bear
much fruit. This is New Covenant language. The people of the covenant are no
longer dependant on themselves to produce fruit of righteousness, but believers
are enabled by the life-giving Vine to produce fruit which glorifies the Father. Israel
This is the last of seven “I AM” statements in the Gospel of John. Both the Father and the Son play important roles in this metaphor. Jesus is the Vine and the Father is the Vinedresser. In the Old Testament,
referred to as a vine, yet that imagery is always connected to God’s judgment
on them for their lack of fruitfulness. Jesus says that He is the “True Vine,”
that is, He is the One to whom Israel
was pointing. He is the fulfillment of their history. He is the fulfillment of
their destiny. Jesus has produced the fruit of righteousness that Israel
never could. Israel
As the Vinedresser, the Father prunes the branches and He must also remove the bare branches. Notice that the Vinedresser does not prune the Vine, but the branches. Pruning is done to all of the branches. Even if a branch is bearing fruit, the Vinedresser prunes it in order to gain more fruit from that branch. The Vinedresser also cuts off the dead wood. The two are distinguished from one another, the fruit-bearing branches and the dead branches.
The disciples were already “clean” in the sense that they were already connected to Christ by His word spoken to them. What they are required to do is stay in that word, abide in Him. A branch cannot live without being joined to the vine. Christians cannot live without being joined to the Vine. What flows through Him is life, and it must flow through us. How do you remain in Christ? You remain in Him by hearing His word, believing His word, and obeying His word. By “word” I do not mean only the red words in your red-letter Bibles. All of Scripture is God-breathed and uniquely inspired by the Spirit of Christ. You must hear it all, believe it all, and obey it all. It is not just Jesus’ words, but all of the words about Jesus. To abide in His word is to abide in who He is and what He has done as recorded in holy Scripture.
You are the Branches (5-8)
Verses 5-8 repeat what Jesus has just said with only a few differences in His explanation of this abiding. Here he says that we are to abide in Him, and He will abide in us. How does that work? As the nutrient flow goes in and out of a vine and its branches, the life that is in Christ will flow in and out of each one of us giving us what we need to live and produce good fruit.
“Abiding in Christ” speaks of the union between a believer and Christ. This union was initiated by Him and completed by Him. Jesus taught on another occasion that, “Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matt 7) and yet again, “Either make the tree good and its fruit good, or else make the tree bad and its fruit bad; for a tree is known by its fruit” (Matt 12). As the Vine, Jesus will produce fruit through the branches, and He will produce good fruit. This is inevitable. We cannot point to one thing that Jesus refers to when He talks about fruit. The fruit He refers to is all of the things that come from a life of obedience to Him.
Therefore, those who abide in Him will bear much fruit, and branches that do not produce fruit will be cut off and thrown into the fire. Branches that do not produce the desired fruit are good for nothing but to be cut off. Branches that have been cut off are good for nothing but to be piled into a heap and burned. Dried out wood is the best for building a fire. Many of you burn firewood during the winter. “Green” wood is not much good for a fire, but “seasoned” wood burns easily. Of course, “fire” in the Bible most usually refers to judgment.
When you are abiding in Christ and His words are abiding in you, your prayer life will be completely in tune with the will of God. Your prayer life will be most fruitful. I became convinced years ago that we should be praying what the Scripture says. We find God’s will in the Bible and when we pray the prayers and promises of the Bible, He will answer us. This brings glory to God. When we are in tune with God, we are obedient, we pray for godly things, and He answers our prayers in blessed and even miraculous ways, He receives glory.
Conclusion and Christian Application
(1) The cause of Christ goes forth regardless. God is not dependent on us. We are dependent on Him.
(2) God is the potential of prayer. Fruitfulness is tied to prayer.