[SW126] 1/31/14 message notes by Rev. Susan J. Wynn ©2014
The Vine. Jesus Christ is the true Vine. When you are attached to Him, you receive His sap which gives you God-life, God-love, and a changed heart. And you bear God-fruit.
Jesus has just told the disciples the Father and He will come and literally dwell inside them when they believe into and obey and love Jesus, and that the Comforter, the Spirit of truth, will literally dwell in them.
Then He says, “Get up, let us go from here.” On their way to the Garden at Gethsemane, they cross the Temple courtyard. A relief of a golden grapevine, with grapes as big as a man, stands out from the Temple’s top stones.
It is Passover time, so there is a full moon (as is always the case for that feast). So the golden vine and grapes are clearly seen in the moonlight.
With that, Jesus begins.
He says “I AM the true Vine.” The vine brings life-giving sap to the branches.
The true Vine brings God’s life and love into human hearts, changing their hearts (Hebrews 8:10) and delivering them from God’s wrath, which will come to those who refuse Jesus Christ, His Son.
The golden vine around the Temple will not bring God’s life and love and changed hearts to Israel and the rest of the world.
The good works done by the Jewish people will not bring God’s life and love and changed hearts to Israel and the rest of the world.
The high priest and the Pharisees and the rabbis and the Sanhedrin ruling council will not bring God’s life and love and changed hearts to Israel and the rest of the world.
Only the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is the true Vine.
Only He is able to bring God’s life and love and changed hearts to us, so we no longer sin (rebel) against God and thus, are no longer under His wrath.
Only the I AM, the voice from the burning bush in Exodus 3, can do that.
I AM the true Vine, and you are the branches, He says.
What do grapevines bear? Fruit. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). That is God’s fruit, borne by God’s branches.
That is what He wanted from Israel, but they bore only wild grapes, sour and bitter (Isaiah 5, Matthew 21:33ff).
BUT once you have come to believe into Jesus Christ, you are a branch of the true Vine, taking His sap into you, and you bear God’s fruit.
We have a Vinedresser — God the Father. A vinedresser only tends that which is attached to the Vine, making it flourish. He does not tend that which is unattached.
The Vinedresser is merciful!
— If you do not bear fruit, He lifts you up so you get more light!
— If you do bear fruit, He prunes you so you can branch out more and bear even more fruit (Hebrews 12:4ff)! His Word is what prunes you (Verse 3).
BUT to bear any fruit at all,
— You must abide (live) in Jesus Christ
— Jesus Christ must abide (live) in you
You cannot bear His fruit unless you take into yourself His life, His sap.
IF you do not abide (live) in Him,
— You can do nothing. Your good works are nothing. Your wit and humor is nothing. Your natural abilities are nothing. God will not work through you if He is not in you.
— AND you are cut off (that is, cast off forcefully) AND you are set on fire and consumed.
BUT if you abide (live) in Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ abides (lives) in you,
— His words abide in you.
His words live in you because He lives in you. So He speaks His words to you and His words come out of your mouth. And you to ask whatever you wish, and it will be done. You will ask what He would ask, because His words live in you and come out of your mouth and heart.
Why must branches of the true Vine bear fruit?
So God the Father is glorified. He is glorified when:
1) you bear much fruit and therefore
2) are disciples of Jesus Christ.
Those who are not disciples of Jesus Christ — who do not follow (that is, obey) and love Him — cannot glorify God the Father, and they are not disciples of Jesus Christ.
What is in the sap of the true Vine? What is delivered to us branches who abide in Him and Him in us?
His love (Verse 9). Not our love for Him, but His actual love. God’s love. Agape. The same love our Father has for His Son, Jesus Christ. The same love that Jesus Christ has for us.
That is the lifeblood for us branches, and it is His agape in us that makes us bear God’s fruit. What passes through Him to us, His sap, is His love, His agape.
If His love is in us, His love will come out of us. Agape produces God’s fruit, God’s grapes.
Then He says, “Abide in My love.” His agape literally dwells within us, and we dwell literally in the embrace of God’s agape.
How do we know if we are abiding in agape? We obey. Our obedience is evidence that Jesus Christ and His love abide in us.
He tells us all of this so His joy is in us. Not our joy. His! Literally within us. We are filled with it!
What is His joy? To obey, to do God’s will (Psalm 40:6, Hebrews 10:7).
In Verse 16, Jesus says a most remarkable thing. We don’t make a “decision for Christ.” He chooses us. Then He calls us.
Then, we either:
—continue to disobey God and remain under His wrath. (He has given us free will to receive or refuse Him.)
—Receive God’s life and God’s love and changed hearts and He comes to abide (live) in us and we abide (live) in Him. Then we go. We do not sit. We go. We go and bear fruit.
The Lord said to me this morning, “Look up the word ‘go’.” It means we go at His leading. We do not just strike out with what seems logical to us. We do not simply go where we see a need. We go at His leading. His sap runs through us, His life and His love, and we want nothing but to glorify God through what He leads us to do.
We will know if we have gone at His leading. It will be easy, there will be open hearts. There will be redemption. We will see that God has already gone ahead of us, preparing works for us to do (Ephesians 2:10).
If we do not go at His leading, it will be like walking through wet cement up to your thighs. You will struggle, you will become tired, you will “burn out.”
So we go forward at His leading, bearing the fruit of God’s life and changed hearts, so others may freely receive what has been freely given to us.
What happens when we go? God works His works through us. We ask, and He does it.
And we love each other with this same agape, because we abide (live) in the true Vine, and His sap produces agape.
What are you producing? God knows. So do others, by your actions.
If you are not abiding, you don’t act like Jesus. He is lifting you up so you get more light now. He is a merciful Vinedresser. Agree with Him on the condition of your heart, and He will change it and give you His life and love.
If you are abiding, be ready for your Father, the Vinedresser, to continue His work. Your grapes will just get sweeter and sweeter as He prunes you, and His actual love will appear on you like grapes as big as a man.