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Fifth Sunday of Easter

April 29, 2018 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Easter

Passage: John 15:1–15:8

†††In the Name of Jesus†††

Pastor Murray Keith

Text: John 15:1-8

Date: April 29th, 2018; Easter 5; Series B

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

“If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15:6)

  • That is some very strong language that we heard in our Gospel lesson this morning.
  • We are not used to hearing strong language like this.  
  • These are not politically correct words.  They are not soft and gentle.  
  • They do not tip-toe around your feelings or your personal beliefs.  
  • When Jesus spoke these words he was not at all concerned over how they might affect his popularity.  
  • In fact, he knew very well that saying these words, claiming them to be the truth, would get him killed.
  • But out of his love for humanity, out of his love for you, he boldly spoke them anyway.
  • “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15:6). 
  • If you do not abide in the Christ, if you do not remain connected to him, if you separate yourself from the Son of God – then you are going to wither away and die.  
  • Now and eternally.  
  • This was an extremely controversial thing for Jesus to say back in his day and it continues to be controversial today.
  • Some people will respond that Jesus is only one of many paths that will lead us to heaven.
  • Some will respond that this is ignorant, and hateful, and closed-minded.
  • But, our Lord clearly tells it like it is.  
  • “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
  • There is no other way.  There is no other path.  There is only Christ.  
  • God has forgiven us for our all of sin, reconciled us to himself, and has promised us eternal life - only through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus.
  • “If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (John 15:6). 
  • Jesus speaks these controversial words out of his love for us and so that the truth may set us free.
  • He speaks these words with such force that you may abide in him for life everlasting.
  • He speaks these controversial words so that you understand the seriousness of sin, the seriousness of the deceptions of the devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh.
  • These evil forces do not want you to abide in Jesus eternally.  
  • They want to cause great separation between you and God.  They want you to abide in yourself, in your sinful desires, in evil.
  • And how deceptive, subtle, and threatening are these evil forces that try to separate us from God.
  • Before we know it - God and his church are set aside and we focus on ourselves and the things of this world.  
  • Before we know it - God is not first in our lives.  
  • In fact, he ends up somewhere way down on the list.  If he even remains on the list at all.
  • Before we know it - God’s Word is not the standard for what is right or wrong, but our culture is or our personal opinions.  
  • Sin becomes normalized and we become comfortable living our lives the way we want – not the way God wants.  
  • This can lead to being separated from God like a branch separated from a vine, withering away in death and despair.
  • Jesus boldly warns us of the consequences of being cut off from him, the Vine.  
  • He doesn’t tip-toe around, or concern himself with political correctness, or try to make his warning more palatable with soft words. 
  • Just as a branch withers and dies when it is cut off from the vine, so we will wither and die cut off from our Saviour.  
  • But, dear friends in Christ - our Lord also boldly, clearly, and plainly reveals to us the life and blessings we have as we do abide in him.
  • The Good News is that when the branches are in union with the Vine, the branches live.  
  • The branches live to the fullest.  The branches flourish!
  • By God’s love, mercy, and grace we have been restored to God through the blood of his Son shed on the cross for the sin of the world.
  • In Christ we have been grafted back into the true Vine.  
  • The life that flows from the crucified and resurrected Christ now nourishes us that, by faith, we might live in union with him.
  • This grafting back into the true Vine happened when we were baptized.  
  • Through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, God takes all of us dead, dried up, and withered branches and attaches us to the life-giving, life-nourishing, life-sustaining Vine.
  • Connected to the Vine, he nourishes us with his Word and his true body and true blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.
  • Jesus, the true Vine, nourishes us with everything we need to abide in him - forever.
  • This nourishment gives us a strong and living faith.  
  • It keeps us strong in our trust that no matter who we are, where we have been, what we have done or not done - God loves us, forgives us, and promises us eternal life.  
  • This is Good News that we constantly need to be nourished with.
  • It keeps us strong in our trust that no matter what we face in this life (illnesses and injuries, loneliness, troubled relationships - even death itself), we have strength and eternal life in the Vine.  
  • The Vine nourishes us and we branches bear much fruit as a result.  
  • We bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – all the fruits of the Spirit.
  • We bear fruit for those God has placed in our lives (our families and friends, co-workers, everyone we meet and come into contact with in our daily lives).
  • “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:1-11).
  • We naturally bear this fruit when we are connected to the Vine.  It is who we are and it is what we do.
  • Just as you can’t threaten to punish, or promise to reward, or guilt a branch into producing fruit – so it is with us.  
  • Connected to the vine we simply do it!
  • Christ is the Vine; we are the branches.  
  • United to the Vine we have an abundant and never-ending source of life.  How blessed we are!  Amen.

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The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

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May 6, 2018

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