The True Vine

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Sermon based on John 15:1-8

Our Scripture reading from John’s gospel begins following the time that Jesus and His disciples had left the upper room and were moving toward the Garden of Gethsemane.  Along this route Jesus and his disciples were said to have passed by the temple. Scholars have indicated that at the temple one of the chief ornaments was a golden vine with a cluster of grapes as large as a human. Some have said this sight was the inspiration for the following parable from Jesus. In this parable we see that Jesus described our relationship with God. Jesus used an image very commonplace among his followers. Using the image of a grape vine, Jesus shared how our relationship with God and with each other connects us more closely. This promise of connection communicates to us that if a person remains in Christ and Christ in them, they will bear much fruit.

Fruit in this passage is a metaphor for acts of kindness. In order for us to be more like Christ we must attempt to model the character and actions that Jesus demonstrated in his earthly ministry.Also, we are reminded that when we are attached to the vine, that the fruit we produce comes to us naturally as a gift from God. Certainly all of us want to do good things, we want to produce good fruit. But many of us in trying to do those things that bear fruit, end up feeling burned out, exhausted and even depressed. However there are others who do just as much as we do and they are full of hope and life, full of care and love for their neighbors and their world. These people continue helping and caring for others through their words and actions. They are bearing fruit in their lives every day.

As followers of Christ we are called to a connection to the source of hope, to the source that helps define our purpose in life. This connection is to the vine of our faith, Jesus Christ. At times there might be some struggle in our connection. If we are having difficulty in our connection with Christ and not bearing the fruit we desire, we can observe plants themselves to learn how to strengthen that connection.

With plants, when there is an abundance of sunshine water, and nutrients the branches thrive, grow, and produce. The first task of the branch, through their leaves is that they receive energy from the sun to fuel their growth. The leaves, by the process of photosynthesis, convert light into energy that helps to drive the system that produces fruit as its end result.  The branch through its connections to the stem of the plant receives moisture and nutrients from the soil that fuel growth.

Likewise, for us to grow as Christians we must be firmly planted in our faith and devotion to God. We need to be fruitful and remain connected to the vine, and serve as Christ has called us to serve. As the branch receives energy from the sun through its leaves, so we as Christians receive energy when we offer ourselves before God, and when we accept the light of Christ that is offered to us.

Speaking of light, perhaps we have noticed how plants track the sun, how they focus upon it, how they lean towards light and turn towards wherever the light is shining brightly. Those who own houseplants know that if we don’t want a plant with a permanent lean we must periodically turn the plant so that it begins to lean in the opposite direction. Hopefully, if we continue this task the plant will remain in a nice upright position.

In the same way we need to be exposed to the word of God. We need daily contact with the light of God’s word by studying Scripture that helps us draw our strength and motivation. When we do this, when we reach out like plants do to attract the sun, when we reach out to receive God’s word and absorb those teachings into our hearts and lives, like the plant that absorbs the sunlight, God gives to us the ability to bear fruit for his Kingdom. We are called to honor, glorify, worship and serve God. Yet all the light in the world, all the reading of God’s word and reflection will not help us unless we are connected to God through prayer and love.

Through prayer, study, fellowship and service God will always be with us. We must trust in this connection. Like branches connected to a vine, we too will grow in our faith and understanding. We are called by God to share His love and joy.

The Rev. Dr. David A. Marcus, Jr.

April 29, 2018 

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