Church, I am overjoyed you have chosen to worship with us today. My prayer is that God would meet you in a special way as we open his Word together. Today, we are beginning a brand new sermon series called ‘Abide In Me.’
We were created to live in connection with God, to have a close relationship with Him…daily. The Bible tells us, however, that sin is the greatest deterrent to this life-giving relationship. Sin breaks the connection, and we find ourselves all on our own. An knowing we all sin, it might sound like it’s hopeless to have a daily relationship with God.
But here’s how much God wants to connect with you. God came to earth in human flesh through Jesus, to intervene on our behalf, to offer Himself on the cross as a sacrifice for our sin – all to unite us with Himself once again. God is your creator, He loves you, and He wants you. God wants to be connected to you, and He wants you to connect with Him.
The Bible actually addresses this truth in many different ways, but one of the clearest illustrations given is that of a simple grapevine.
When we see a grapevine, we usually see many vines intertwined, big green leaves, and luscious, beautiful fruit hanging. But did you know that every branch, every leaf, and every grape receives all of its nourishment from a single vine? Without an established and continual connection to that vine, there would be no hope of any kind of fruit at all.
POINT #1 – THE VINE IS THE SOURCE OF LIFE
In the book of John, just a few chapters before Jesus is arrested and crucified, He spent some time with His disciples sharing His final instructions. He knows that He’s headed to the cross, so He takes these final moments to instill within His followers just how they are to live in His absence.
5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.
Jesus uses imagery that would have been very familiar to the agricultural society of that day. The disciples would certainly have understood vines, branches, and fruit, and how everything comes from the vine. And Jesus calls himself THE vine. In this one statement, Jesus is making some very important claims.
First, He is claiming that, just as a vine receives nutrients and water from the soil in order to grow and flourish, He is the conduit by which we are fed the things we need to have a full life – love, grace, mercy, forgiveness, and power.
Second, He’s claiming that there is no other vine available that has access to the things we need for a full life. Many people settle for lesser vines—things like money, success, relationships, and status all as a way of fulfillment, but those things will never come close replacing a connection to Jesus.
Jesus also makes the claim that we are the branches. The sole job of a branch is to receive from the vine. So in order for a branch to produce fruit, it must remain attached and connected to the source of life, which is the vine. Apart from Him, we can’t accomplish anything. There is no power, no nourishment, no life.
This is why Jesus gives clear instruction in these final words to His disciples: to remain in Him or to abide in Him. Jesus has big plans for those who put their faith, hope, and trust in Him – plans for them to change the world.
Pastor and author A.W. Tozer once said it like this: “God is looking for people through whom he can do the impossible. What a pity that we plan only the things we can do by ourselves.”
Many of us wake up in the morning with no real desire or plan to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Therefore, we don’t notice when we are disconnected from the vine. We go to work, punch the clock, cook dinner, read a book, help our kids with homework, and go to bed. The next day we just repeat.
However, God’s plan for your life is for greater things. Not that taking care of your family and going to work aren’t important, but He desires for us to produce what He calls spiritual fruit. Different from apples and oranges, this fruit is the faithful outcome of a holy, connected life. The ability to defeat sin. To reverse injustice. To feed the hungry. To serve the poor. He knows the only way any of this is possible is if we remain connected to Him, abide in Him.
POINT #2 – THE CHRISTIAN LIFE CANNOT BE ACCOMPLISHED ON OUR OWN
John uses a very specific Greek word in verse five. He uses the word “meno” (may-no). It is translated in English as abide, remain stay, and even wait. So Jesus is telling His listeners, “I am the only way you will receive what you need to live a God-sized life. You must remain, abide, stay, and wait on me.” Abide in Him.
We aren’t good at this, though, are we? Life is fast-paced, and we buy the lie that we can do it on our own. We are not patient enough for the vine to fill us through things like intentional prayer, devoted Bible study, passionate worship, and meaningful fellowship.
It is kind of like charging your cell phone. Plenty of times I’ve had my cell phone die or come close to dying in the middle of the day. So then I need to plug it into a power source because I need the fuel and the power to make it to the end of the day; but if I am not careful, I will get antsy and unplug it to text, call, or search something before it has had a chance to recharge.
I have to let it be “meno.” I have to let it remain, abide, stay, and wait in order to receive what is required to do what I need to do. So if Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches, we must remain connected to Him in order to receive what is required to do what we need to do, to be who we need to be. We must stay connected to Him, if we hope to experience the full life of Christ.
In the book of Galatians, Paul explains what a life that is connected to Jesus looks like. He tells us the kind of fruit that can be produced when we live connected to Christ.
22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!
Just like a branch connected to the vine produces fruit that is consistent with the type of plant it is, meaning you’re not going to get oranges from a grapevine, a life lived in the Spirit and connected to Christ will produce fruit consistent with the Spirit of God. When we abide in Christ and remain united with Him, our lives will be marked by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
POINT #3 – ABIDING IN CHRIST SHOULD RESULT IN LIVES THAT LOOK LIKE JESUS
The goal of any Christian should be to spend so much time with Jesus through intentional prayer, the study of scripture, investing in Godly relationships, and passionate worship that the characteristics and attitudes of Christ start to rub off on us. The more time you spend with Jesus, the more you should look, talk, and act like Him.
Have you ever spent a lot of time around someone with an accent? And before you know it, you hear yourself starting to talk like them. It goes both ways (good and bad). Work around people who are cursing, and before you know it, that’s what comes flying out of your mouth.
Abiding in Christ should have a profound impact on every part of your life. Staying connected to Jesus should result in being more loving toward the people around you. You should possess a noticeable joy about you. You should have a peaceful demeanor. You should demonstrate a certain level of patience. You should be trustworthy and faithful. You should have a gentle spirit. You should be able to practice self-control.
Take an honest look at your life. Could someone honestly say they can tell you are living in connection with Jesus based on how you engage with the world around you? If not, maybe you need to get reconnect with the vine.
Look, it you want to establish or reestablish a connection, here are a few things you can do.
- Recognize your dependence on Christ – A humble heart is one that knows the need it has for Jesus’ presence. By simply acknowledging this, you place yourself in a posture to receive from God, because life is just too challenging, painful, and confusing to try and navigate it by ourselves.
- Repent and commit to living in obedience – Repentance is a change of direction. After we recognize our need for Jesus, we turn from all the ways in which we were living apart from Him. When we abide in Christ, we allow God to guide us in how to serve our spouses, how to love our children, how to resist sin, how to fight injustice, and how to live generously. Through repentance, we begin to live obediently in step with the Spirit of God.
- Repeat daily – Each morning we are faced with new temptations that invite us to live our lives in our own way. However, walking in step with Jesus should be as regular as brushing our teeth or putting on our shoes. Each day, we confess our dependence on God, repent from the ways we try and do things on our own, and obediently follow the ways of Jesus again.
Jesus is the vine, and you are the branches. He is the source of life. Apart from Him we can do nothing. It is by the grace of God that we are invited to abide in Christ and receive all we need for a truly full life.
I want to challenge you to do something with me for the next 21 days. It takes 21 days to form a habit (good or bad). The book of John has 21 chapters. Over the next 21 days, will you read a chapter a day with me? Just one a day. Read it, study it, ponder on it. Think about why God has this story in the book.
In every chapter of the book, Jesus’ deity is revealed. Jesus’ true identity is underscored through the titles He is given – the Word, the only Son, Lamb of God, Son of God, true bread, life, resurrection, the vine. John the devoted follower of Christ, has given us a personal and powerful look at Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. So I am asking you to take a closer look at Him with me. Will you take the challenge….just 21 days?
Dear Lord, I know I am invited to abide in you, and I desire to live my life day-by-day, simply resting in connection with you. But teach me how to rest in you, so that anything in opposition will melt away as Christ fills me. Please give me the strength to be a fruitful branch for you. Enable me to abide in your love so I may produce love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control out of the abundance of your grace. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.
Write Up: In a grape vineyard, a vine is the vital life source for the production of fruit. In the same way, abiding in Christ is the way in which we receive all of the spiritual nourishment necessary to live the way of Jesus in this world. Without this vital connection, we are incapable of producing the fruits of the spirit and becoming who God wants us to be.