Reading John 15:1-8
[a] When we lived in Peterhead, to be able to eat fruit from our own garden! We had our own patch of strawberries! That is, whatever we could get to before the birds or the slugs. I’m rather partial to strawberries and cream!!
[b] We were able to enjoy the fruit for quite some time afterwards, my wife having made some pots of home made strawberry jam.
[a] Often in our house, my wife pulls off the dead leaves from our house plants, as she tells me they will take nourishment from the healthy ones.
[b] We find the same principle operating in God’s Vineyard!
[c] Jesus is telling us that the TRUE VINE IS HIMSELF, and we are the branches.
[d] But the unfruitful dead branches are pruned away, for the sake of the healthy fruit-bearing branches, so that they can yield even more fruit!
[e] Perhaps we should also do a little speculation on why these branches may be dead!!
[f] Could it be that Jesus could be inferring that they are DISEASED, which could easily spread to other branches?
[g] If spiritual disease is present amongst God’s people, there is the danger of it spreading, and infecting those who are spiritually healthy
[h] Here’s a news story from TIME MAGAZINE.
New strains of a louse are chewing up California’s finest vineyards.
In the heartland of California’s $730 million-a-year wine industry, prospects are promising for a bumper harvest this fall.
Beneath the deceptively lush surface of the peaceful vineyards, however, an expensive disaster looms. Billions of microscopic parasites called phylloxeras are munching away at the roots of the grape-bearing stalks. While no threat to human health, within a decade the tiny insects could eat their way through 50,000 acres of the nation’s finest vineyards. Estimates of the total damage, including the cost of replanting with Phylloxera-resistant stalks, range from $500 million to more than $1 billion.
Reproducing asexually, one insect can spawn a billion offspring annually.
[i] Can you imagine the devastation caused by this MICROSCOPIC parasite??
BUT LET ME SAY THIS, IT IS NO WORSE THAN THE SPIRITUAL DEVASTATION, WHICH WOULD BE CAUSED TO THE TRUE VINE, IF THOSE DISEASED BRANCHES WERE LEFT SPREADING THEIR LETHAL INFECTION!! THEY MUST BE PRUNED AWAY!
[j] The picture given, is of branches which have no life left in them.
There are some, who CHOOSE THE WAY OF SIN, and as the disease spreads, ALL SPIRITUAL LIFE IS PRESSED OUT OF THEM, until they are spiritually dead!
[a] But the fruitful branches also need the attention of the Vinedresser. They need to be CLEANSED AND PRUNED, that they might bring forth more fruit!
[b] You’ll remember Jesus drawing an important lesson fro us, when He washed the disciples feet – reminding us – translated into Scottish tradition – that, “WE’RE ALL JOCK THAMPSONS BAIRNS!” (A Scottish localism, meaning, ‘Underneath, we’re all really the same’.)
[c] It also reminds us of how, as we walk through life, we pick up, as it were, the dust of the road, and we need the Lord to come again, and cleanse us, just as the Lord washed the disciples’ feet so long ago!
[d] We constantly need to allow God to PURGE - CLEANSE US.
[e] But even more than that, there is the thought within this statement, of PRUNING! The New International Translation, puts it this way, “...every branch that does bear fruit, He trims clean so that it will be even more fruitful.”
[f] Sometimes, the ‘trimming clean’ is a very painful process.
There is so much that we love and want to hold on to! Much of it may not be wrong in itself - but it could be RESTRICTING THE AMOUNT OF FRUIT WE ARE BEARING FOR THE LORD! THAT’S WHY IT HAS TO GO!!
[g] Whilst in this life, there is NEVER a point we can come to, where that ‘trimming clean’, that ‘pruning’ is not necessary!
[h] If a Christian comes to a point in their lives, where they feel there is no room for improvement, then there is something wrong with their sensitivity to the Spirit of God!
[i] Little things grow up in our lives, and if they are not pruned away, can easily grow into big things to destroy us spiritually!
[a] Naturally, the BRANCH of the vine, gets it sustenance from the vine, otherwise no grapes would grow at all, AND THE BRANCH WOULD DIE!
[b] In the same way, our spiritual life, and fruit-yielding ability, is drawn from Christ! WE MUST BE AN INTEGRAL PART OF HIM!
[c] Romans 11:23-24, tells us how this happens!
We must be ‘GRAFTED IN’! We don’t by nature belong there!
[d] They say that you can have quite a different mixture of fruit growing on the same tree, by grafting on different varieties, e.g. apples, pears etc. The branches must be grafted in!
[e] NOW FOR A BRANCH TO BE GRAFTED IN, THE TREE MUST BE WOUNDED. It is only through this that the tree’s life can flow into the branch!
[f] For you and me to be grafted into Christ, He had to be wounded on the cross of Calvary - His life-blood had to flow!
[g] Now, because of that wonderful act of love, His very life can flow into you and me - if we allow it to happen!
[a] The moment we receive Jesus as our personal Saviour, we are grafted into the True Vine, Jesus Himself. Or as the Apostle Paul puts it in Romans 12:27, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
[b] Jesus has done everything possible on the cross, to make sure that you are grafted into Him, the True Vine. But He leaves the decision up to you - He would never force you!
[c] He does not want you to end up as a dead twig, which He tells us in verse 6 of our Bible reading, men take and burn!
[d] He wants you to be a part of Him, receiving the spiritual life you need, bearing much fruit, and growing in Him.
[e] May we each one be able to say with the hymnwriter,
“Jesus with me is united, doubtings and fears are all gone,
With Him my soul is delighted, Jesus and I are at one.”
Songs from Salvation Army Song Book
CHORUS 176 (Before message)