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Jn 15:9-17 · 1Jn 5:1-6 · Ac 10:44-48 · Ps 98
This Week's Sermons

I Am the True Vine
John 15:1-8

It is fascinating to me that in our Protestant religious culture, such a strong emphasis is placed upon literal interpretation. Interestingly, Jesus so often did not speak literally, but figuratively. He spoke in allegories and images. He painted word pictures. Instead of literally coming out and saying what he meant, he so often would tell a story and let people draw their own conclusion. Indeed, these hidden messages of Jesus frequently frustrated his disciples. They wished that he would speak literally and not be quite so subtle.

This morning we take a look at one of the "I Am" sayings of Jesus. Jesus said: I am the true vine. Now, even the most ardent fundamentalist has to agree that when Jesus spoke these words he was not speaking literally. Obviously, if we are to understand what Jesus was getting at here, we must look beyond the surface and do some exploring. We have to go beyond the actual words and discover Jesus' meaning.

When Jesus spoke about vineyards, the people of Judea knew what he was talking about. It was an industry that had been carefully cultivated throughout the country for centuries. It was crucial because it was a cash crop as opposed to grain, which was raised purely for consumption. In early America the essential crop was corn, but the cash crop was tobacco. It was, therefore, vital to the economy of the land.

Quite frankly I must admit that I know very little about the particulars of the wine industry. In preparation for this sermon I did some reading in this area and it was really quite fascinating. The vines are a very rugged crop in a way and in another sense it is a very delicate fruit and requires being treated with kid gloves. A young vine is not permitted to bear fruit for the first three years. It is therefore drastically pruned in December and January to preserve its energy. The particular branches that do not bear fruit are cut out to further conserve the energy of the plant. If this constant cutting back was not done, the result would be a crop that was not up to its full potential.

So when Jesus spoke about vineyards certainly the people could identify with that metaphor, even as a person in Iowa would know about corn, or in Mississippi about cotton. It didn't make any difference whether or not you were in that business. You had grown up around it enough that you would still be familiar with it.

But there is something else that these listeners would most certainly know...
  1. First, it means we must bear fruit for the Kingdom of God.
  2. Secondly, it means there is such a thing as an unproductive life.
  3. Third, it means we must cultivate a relationship with Jesus Christ.
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Leonard Sweet's Sermon

The Right Connection by James Merritt
John 15:1-8

It is amazing how valuable a vine can be. The vines, like the ones we saw here at Chateau Elan bring in $40 billion of business a year in the United States. Americans this past year bought 267 million cases and drank 800 million gallons of its fruit and that number increases every year.

Wineries and vineyards are the second most popular tourist attraction in California after Disneyland. The United States is the largest retail wine market in the world and this industry employs 35,000 people. As important as the economic value of this vine is, Jesus gave it a spiritual value above and beyond any other plant that God ever created, because it answers, maybe, the greatest question of life. Let me illustrate it with a story.

I used to pastor in Mississippi. When James and Jonathan were just toddlers my mom and dad would come two or three times a year and spend several days with us. One visit is burned into my mind forever. We had a couch that pulled out into a bed. Whenever Mom and Dad would come, James would sleep with my mom and Jonathan would sleep with my dad. It thrilled me to watch my mom and dad lie in bed with my kids and tell them stories and play with them and fall asleep with them. Some of the most precious pictures I have are pictures of the kids sleeping with their grandparents.

The day came for Mom and Dad to leave and they purposely got up very, very, early in the morning, because not only did they not want to wake the kids, but also they knew the kids would be very emotional when they left. They were getting in their car to leave and somehow Jonathan woke up. When he saw my dad wasn't in the bed he ran outside to the garage just as they were about to pull away and he began to scream at the top of his lungs, "Don't leave me Poppa! Please don't leave me Poppa!" Mom and Dad got out of the car and hugged Jonathan and assured him that they would be back soon and got back in the car, but that didn't satisfy him. As they drove away, that voice kept ringing out, "Don't leave me Poppa! Don't leave me Poppa!"

When my dad got home he called me and he said, "Son, you just need to be prepared for something. I will never let that happen again, because the next time you will have an empty nest early, because I am taking those boys back home with me." Jonathan, particularly, had a hard time understanding why his grandparents would leave him behind.

Our Heavenly Father loves us far more than my mom and dad loved my kids, so why does He leave us behind? Why does He leave us here? If He loves us so much you would think the moment that you trust Christ and become a part of His family He would just take you right into heaven, but He doesn't. So the question, "Why does He leave us here?" To put it more generally, "What is our purpose for being here?"

Scripture makes it plain that God never does anything haphazardly...

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