daily Broadcast

The True Vine

From the series Jesus Is...

Have you ever had quiet time with God in the morning, but when your head hit the pillow that night, you realized you hadn’t stopped to think about Him since? In this program, guest teacher Ryan Ingram will unpack a vital principle for us to commit to, so we can avoid that happening again. Join us as we discover what it means to abide in Jesus, The True Vine, from John chapter 15.

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Message Transcript

We have an obsession in our culture with new. We want new information; we want something that is kind of next along those lines. And today, I just simply want to remind you of something old. I just want to take a moment, we are going to teach actually one of my life passages, John 15.

And I like how Samuel Johnson once said it. He said, “People need to be reminded more often than they need to be instructed.” And I just want to remind you of some really simple, profound things.

Let me ask you this. What is the most important thing that you do?

Robby and I, we have started coaching together. Robby is a volleyball player; I grew up playing volleyball as well. We are coaching some junior high boys. Now, here’s what is interesting is the huddle before the game, we are not trying to teach them anything new. We don’t get down, “Okay, boys, so we have a whole new game plan,” right? We don’t, you know, “Here’s a new strategy. Let me teach you.” What do you do in the huddle before the game? You remind them of what is most important.

Jesus had a huddle on the night He was betrayed. The Passover meal had already been eaten, the time in the upper room with His disciples. Judas had gone to betray Jesus. And most likely at this point in the evening, Jesus was walking with the eleven down the Kidron Valley, moonlight, Mediterranean night there as they are walking through most likely probably a family local vineyard on the way to the Mount of Olives.

Along the way, Jesus recognizes He has just a couple hours. In just a couple hours, He knows what is about to happen. He has just a couple hours with His disciples to press upon them, to huddle together, to tell them what is most important.

Here’s what He said to them. He said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Now, remain in Me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain Me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in Me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up and thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in Me and My words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.”

Jesus had known His hour had come. And He had this moment to share with this eleven before all hell breaks loose, a huddle to say what is most important.

And so, in our time together, I just want to remind you of three things. I think many of you probably already know them. But I want to remind you of three things about what Jesus would say, “This is most important.”

First thing is that Jesus is the true vine. Jesus is the true vine. He says, “I am,” not a vine, a nice vine, a vine that, hey, hello, this is a good thing. “I am the true vine.”

Now, Israel, part of Israel’s identity, they like to know themselves as the great golden vine. It goes all the way back. Psalm 80 says, “You transplanted a vine from Egypt. You cleared the ground for it and it took root and filled the land.”

Again in Isaiah, “The vineyard of the Lord Almighty is the nation of Israel and the people of Judah are the vines He delighted in.” Israel’s identity was they were the vine of God. In fact, during the Maccabean revolt, they printed their own money with the vine on it. Jesus, like I said, He’s most likely walking along down the Kidron Valley, probably in a vineyard having this conversation, talking about being the vine. And behind Him is the cityscape of Jerusalem.

And the city of Jerusalem is built up on a mount and at the center of it is the Temple itself at the highest point. And at the top of the Temple is a great golden vine, literally, gold plated, as large as a man, that is glistening in the moonlight. And Jesus says, “I know that you think the nation of Israel and all these other things, that’s the true vine. He says, “No, no, I am. I have showed up. I am the true vine.”

Here’s the interesting part is we take good things and make them ultimate things, thinking somehow they’ll actually become the source of life. Your job, your career, your family, even ministry, the perfect person, others’ approval.

And, friends, I just want to remind you of something that I think you, many of you already know. Jesus alone is the true vine. You can search everywhere else, you can look, you can run, you can try it all and ultimately you will come up empty. Come to Him; seek Him.

Let me ask you: What are you looking to bring fulfillment? What are you looking to bring satisfaction? Jesus says, “I am the true vine,” then He goes on to say this, that God is the Father gardener. God is the Father gardener. “And My Father is the gardener. My Father is the vintner.” I love this, because it’s not just anyone who is the vintner, anyone who is just going along and caring for this, but it is your perfect heavenly Father who loves you, who delights in you, who longs for your very best.

He says, “I am the one who is coming alongside to care and to cultivate in your life.” I wanted you to notice what the Father gardener does. The Father gardener does two things. He positions us first. He positions us. He says, “He cuts off every branch in Me that bears no fruit.” Here’s our Greek word. And I don’t like to pick on translations too much, but on this one, this is the Greek word airo.

And many times throughout translated in the New Testament, it literally is to lift up or to take up. “That the Son of Man must be lifted up.” That’s that Greek word, airo, here.

And in the context in the ancient day viticulture was very similar to our present day. They would trellis the vines. And what would happen was you would have this branch that would be hanging down low that might have gotten covered with dust or dirt and it wasn’t thriving. Well, that branch has the potential for all this fruit-bearing. They wouldn’t cut it away right away. In fact, what a vintner would do, a gardener would come down and would wash the vine and lift it up into the sun, put it on that trellis for it to thrive.

And the Father gardener says: I want to position you to flourish. And I know you feel trampled down and I know you feel dirty. And He’s going, like: I want to actually take you and wash you and cleanse you and lift you up into the light. He positions us. He positions you.

And then this is the harder one. He prunes you. “While every branch in Me that does bear fruit,” He what? It’s bearing fruit. Think about this! “Every branch in Me that does bear fruit,” He what? Prunes! So, you’re being fruitful and He’s going to prune you. And some of you are complaining about it. And the Father gardener says it’s for your best so that you’ll be even more fruitful. Well, it hurts. It does. It’s cutting back.

You know, you prune for a few different reasons. One, you prune because of overgrowth. In fact, those who prune, especially like a tree or something like this, and we have all this overgrowth. Overgrowth means that you’re, the plant is fundamentally trying to, like, sustain the growth and it can’t produce the fruit that is necessary. And so, you get really weak, lame fruit, but you have a lot going on.

And then you prune disease. Things that have grown up that have a little bit of disease that left to itself will eventually take over the whole plant and will kill it or cripple it.

And then, the other area is dead areas. Areas that are dead. And so, until you cut off that which is dead, the plant will not thrive. And for some, you just need to hear this, there are dead areas in your life that you have been clinging onto that God wants to cut out that you need to let go of because it’s not allowing you to thrive. There’s habitual sin that we let into our life. Patterns.

And you’ve been going down a path. And I don’t know what it is, but you have been going down that path and it’s dead. And it will shipwreck your life. The Father gardener, He positions us and then He prunes us.

Now, here’s what we must remember about the Father. You have a perfect heavenly Father, think about this, who is intimately involved in your life, whose love compels Him to do whatever is necessary for your flourishing. As you experience the pruning of God, some of the painful cutting back, maybe it’s the stepping aside in some seasons of, that were once flourishing.

You have a perfect heavenly Father who is intimately involved in your life whose love compels Him to do whatever is necessary for your flourishing. Which does mean, at times, cutting back and cutting out.

Jesus is the true vine. God is the Father gardener. Our part, your part, my part is to abide, is to abide. Did you notice that? I read several verses. How many times: “Remain, abide,” repeated. Jesus knows He’s just got a couple hours. What do I want to make sure I tell you? All hell is about to break loose. The Shepherd is going to be struck down, His disciples are going to scatter, the next seventy-two hour it looks like the movement has fundamentally died and what is He going to tell them? Abide. Remain.

Remain in Me as I also remain in you. “No branch can bear fruit by itself.” The Greek word remain is meno. It’s a verb. It’s in the present active meaning that this is something that you are currently doing, this isn’t like, “Hey, I made this decision once.” Abiding is to be daily present and attentive to Jesus. To be daily present and attentive to Jesus. Okay, God, I’m going to be attentive to You today. You’re the author of life, offering me life. You probably have a lot to tell me about my day. I want to be attentive to You.

And then Jesus would say it this way. “If you love Me, you will obey My commands.”

And so, abiding is deeply connected to obeying Jesus’ words. I think we have a lot of people who believe Jesus, but don’t obey Jesus.

Abiding. It’s just to be daily present and then going, Okay, Jesus, what do You have for me? What do I need to do? How do I respond? See, there’s a spiritual axiom: Connectedness determines fruitfulness. Fruitfulness, connectedness, just being connected. Like, we want to be fruitful in our lives. Many of you are high achievers. Determinedness doesn’t determine fruitfulness. Connectedness does. Jesus would say: What is the most important thing that you do? I don’t know how you answered that. Jesus’ answer is: abide.

What is fruit? What a plant produces on the outside that other people can see and benefit from. It’s the visible evidence of the inner working power. It’s what other people come and experience. See, that’s what we need, a bunch of fruit-filled followers of Jesus. And that doesn’t happen by trying harder, it happens by abiding and remaining, and staying connected to Jesus. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.

The apostle Paul would define the fruit of the Spirit as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. I miss one every single time. That’s why I was doing that. I always miss one.

Dallas Willard would say, “Abiding is the source of love, joy, peace, and all of our fruitfulness.” So, let me just ask you, are you deeply connected to Jesus? No shame, no, like, I walked in feeling dry, I walked in feeling disconnected. And I would say that’s where a lot of us are, right?

There’s this picture that I love. Bernard of Clairvaux gave it a long time ago. And it’s the difference between a river and a reservoir, if I can give you one more picture. And the point he was making is in life we often operate like a river. And a river, whatever comes in immediately goes out. And we get information, even moments like that, and what’s happening now, it’s like, How do I take it in and just use it? And how do I bring this in to get on with my life?

And he said what we need to be is more of reservoirs. See, the difference between a river and a reservoir, a river, whatever goes in immediately gushes out. A reservoir, it only begins to give out of the overflow. Once it fills up, then it begins to pour forth.

See, what I want and what we need and the invitation of Jesus is to be reservoirs. Where instead of rushing onto the next, we sit with our Savior, we’re connected. You’ll experience the fruit-filled life that way, that joy, that peace, and that patience. And other people will experience you that way. Where you’re just present with Him.

Stay connected to Him. Everything else flows from that, friends. Everything else flows from that. We get so worried about our work and our kids and all… Like, if you stayed so connected to Him, I’ve just got to tell you, everything else flows from that. So, hold onto Him.