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Jesus Is The Vine You Are The Branches

April 29, 2018

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Fifth Sunday of Easter                               Trinity Lutheran Church

29 April 2018                                              Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

John 15:1-8

Confirmation of Ella Cave, Isabelle Derby, Madison Lambert, Jordan Vogler, Connor Wendt, Marissa Endorf, Anna Woodshank & Hanna Josoff

 

My favorite description of a believer, a follower, or a disciple of Jesus is a hanger on. You’ve heard me say it dozens if not hundreds of times. Another term I use for a disciple of Jesus is a moocher. A hanger on. Hanging on to Jesus. A moocher. Mooching off of Jesus. I use such terms to describe Jesus’ relationship with faith or to faith’s relationship with Jesus. You are TOTALLY DEPENDENT ON JESUS! For salvation!

 

Jesus uses different terminology to describe this relationship. He is the Vine. “You are the branches.” Yes, that’s right — branches! Hooked to Vine Jesus. Branches only have salvific sap as they are attached to the Good Friday-Love-God-For-Your-Salvation-Vine. Believers only have eternal life vitality as they are joined or linked to “I am the true vine” Jesus! “You did not choose me,” Jesus categorically preaches, “but I chose you,” (Jn 10:16)!

 

So, let’s keep it straight. Jesus is the Vine. Not you. You are the branches. Your salvational vitality depends completely on Jesus! He “is the propitiation for our sins,” (1 Jn 4:10).

 

Vine Jesus tells you: “Abide in me and I in you.” Did you hear that? Again, it’s His way of saying: “Stick with me. Be my hanger on. Mooch off of me when it comes to salvation. Like a branch gets its vivacity from the vine.”

 

Now, you are hooked to True Vine Jesus through your ears! As He speaks to you – by His Word! He categorically declares: “Already you are clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” Already clean. Not becoming clean. Or in the process of getting clean. “Already clean!” “Because of the word I have spoken to you.” That’s the gospel! The “good news about Jesus Himself” (Acts 8:35) that Jesus is the atoning sacrifice that answers for the sins of everyone! Philip preached that Jesus from Isaiah 53 to the Ethiopian eunuch. The preaching of the gospel had its way with him. He believed and received holy baptism. “Clean” because he was given the gospel – the power of God to forgive all sinners their sins and cover them in the righteousness that Jesus won for all by shedding His divine blood and giving up His divine life into death on the Good Friday cross!

 

So too with you! “Already you are clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” Jesus’ word of Good Friday forgiveness is yours! First given to you in your baptism. Repeated every Sunday when you hear the absolution, the preached gospel and when Jesus tells you that the bread and wine are His crucified, risen and ascended body and blood “given and shed for you for the forgiveness of your sins.” The gospel is WORDED by Jesus in the way of the forgiveness of your sins! And to be WORDED in such a way is to be GOSPELED by Jesus. And it’s for you! True Vine Jesus does not sap life from you. Instead, He gives life! Eternal life with the gospel/word of the gospeled and worded forgiveness of your sins!

 

“Already you are clean because of the word I have spoken to you.” Jesus is the Vine. You are the branches. That’s my first point today.

 

Now to my second point! What’s all this talk from Jesus about the branches getting pruned? Branches do get pruned you know. Any of you who have done any gardening know that. Does that make you nervous? Do you think that pruning is punishment from the Lord?

 

Well, it’s not. The punishment for all your sin – all your bad choices and decisions – was put on True Vine Jesus as He hung on the cross bearing all your sin and all it’s hellacious punishment. There is no hellacious punishment left for you who are the Lord’s hanger on, His moocher – His given to believer. However, if you’re not a believer, refuse to be a hanger on or a moocher, then the Father, the Vinedresser, will cut you loose from Vine Jesus. “Every branch that does not bear fruit he takes away.” But every branch that lives off of or gets its life from Vine Jesus DOES GET PRUNED. Why? So that you may bear more fruit! “And every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit.” BEAR MORE FRUIT! RELYING ON HIM ALL THE MORE! TRUSTING IN HIM ALL THE MORE!

 

With those words true Vine Jesus gives us the right perspective on what it means to be pruned. From God’s perspective! From the point of view of God who works all things for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.

 

I know. I know. Many times the pruning is painful. It hurts. Things happen in our lives that don’t go the way we planned. A loved one gets sick and dies. You lose your job. Have trouble at school. You struggle with your faith. A child rebels against the Christian faith. Mockery, persecution or even prison time for confessing Jesus only as the Savior, for working to protect life in the womb or speaking for marriage to be between only man and woman. All kinds of trials and tribulations come and are coming. You’ve all had your share over the years. And there will be more. No doubt you’ve cried out with many tears and with great anguish: “Why Lord? Why? Why? Why? Do you hate me?” And you are tempted to see the pruning as divine punishment for sin. But I’m here to tell you that’s not what is happening. Pruning is not punishment!

 

God the Father prunes you the branches in order to cut away all the rot or blockage that gets in the way of His word of forgiveness and mercy flowing in your life. In other words, whatever is hindering you from being a hanger on, a moocher, a believer, a fruitful branch will get pruned from you!

 

Dr. Martin Luther made these magnificent comments on today’s text from John 15. I want to share them with you today. He says this about the Vinedresser, the Father’s care of you the branches hooked to Vine Jesus:

 

“This is a fine and comforting picture. Happy is the Christian who can interpret it this way and apply it in hours of distress and trial, when death upsets him, when the devil assails and torments him, and when the world reviles and defames him as an apostle of the devil. Then the Christian can say, ‘See, I am being fertilized and cultivated as a branch on the vine. All right, dear hoe and clipper, go ahead. Chop, prune, and remove the unnecessary leaves. I will gladly suffer it, for these are God’s hoes and clippers. They are applied for my good and welfare’ … He who is able to learn, therefore, let him learn, in order that when he is afflicted and assailed everyone may conclude that the world, the devil, death and all misfortune are only God’s hoe and clipper; that all the revilement and disgrace the Christian experiences is God’s way of fertilizing him … It is the sole purpose of all the sufferings of Christians to promote our Christian life and to bear fruit for a fuller knowledge and a stronger confession of the Word, a more certain hope, and a wider expansion of the kingdom of Christ.” (Luther’s Works, American Edition 24:195-196)

 

Isn’t that magnificent? Isn’t that so helpful? The pruning is for your good! That your faith in the True Vine Jesus and His gospel of forgiveness might be exercised and make you to grow stronger and tougher!

 

Now, I’ve got to wrap this up. All good things must come to an end. Even a sermon. Even though the preacher could go on and on. So here goes.

 

Over and over in John 15 Jesus exhorts you to “abide in me.” “Abide in me.” “Abide in me.” It’s His constant refrain. You abide in Jesus as His gospel words abide in you.   Like: the absolution, the preaching of the gospel and the Lord’s Supper. There He promises to be God FOR YOU in those words. So, don’t you think it’s time for you to put away all the puny cares that keep you from abiding in Him? Isn’t it time for you to die to all things that keep you from abiding in Jesus and His Word?

 

I warn you. There is no salvific life for the branch that severs itself from True Vine Jesus. There is no salvational life for the Christian disconnected from Jesus and His Word. Jesus says: “Without me you can do nothing.” The Ethiopian Eunuch had no salvational life apart from Pastor Philip’s preaching of Jesus and the words and promises of holy baptism that Philip gave him. Unhook yourself from Vine Jesus and His words and you will wither, dry up and die.

 

I beg you. Stay connected to Vine Jesus and His words. Abide in Him. Be His hanger on, His moocher, His branch. Worded. Gospeled. Because Christianity is not a way of life – IT IS LIFE ITSELF! Jesus who is LIFE! TO BE IN HIM IS HAVE LIFE.

 

In the Name of Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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