Saturday, May 1, 2021

Easter 5

John 15:1-8
Abide in Me
Seven times (in the original Greek), Jesus uses a form of the word to “remain” or “abide.” μείνατεἐν You remain in Christ. And He abides in you.

It’s not like we were loose branches out searching for a vine to connect to. No, Christ did that for you. He did that. You abide. We were dead branches destined for fire, but in loved He saved you. He grafted you into Himself when He brought you to faith. He tells us, “You are already clean through the Word I have spoken to you.” Through the Word that brought you to faith, He has already cleansed you. He has washed you clean of all sin. He has won for you a place in His family. A place at His wedding feast in heaven.  You are already clean. Because you are cleansed through pruning.

Branches don’t really have any choice. Of either remaining or departing from the vine. If a branch departs, it would be because of its own decay, a pest, or because the gardener has pruned it off.

Jesus reminds us. “I am the true vine, and my father is the gardener.” Your heavenly Father - the Master Gardner - grafted You into the Vine. And gives You all the blessings that come with it. Even though it hurts.

Your Father - the Master-gardener - Tends the vine. Directs the vine. Prunes the vine. So that it may grow in ways which produce fruit. It should be no surprise that God’s way is the way of His creation. It is a way that sees through death and decay to new life. It should also be no surprise, that we who are connected to Christ, the true Vine, through the method of pruning to promote growth.

What actually happens when you are not connected to the source of life? You end up cut off, withered, useless, like the branches and scraps we clean up from our yard and haul away and burn.

If you've ever seen pruned bushes, you know it's not a pretty picture. Sometimes, in fact, a pruned bush looks so ravaged that it's hard to believe it will ever bear fruit or flower again. But cutting away the dead growth - is the only way for new life to take place. 

Being a branch doesn't spare you that. The question isn't whether you'll experience some difficulty, some cutting, the question is whether that will be toward new growth or will be just the beginning of more withering.

Martin Luther tells a delightful dialogue about what a vine might say to the gardener if it could speak:

The vine sees the vinedresser, or gardener, coming with his pruning shears and other tools to work around it and says: "What are you doing? That hurts, don't you know that? Now I must wither and decay, for you are removing the soil from around my roots and are tearing away at my branches with those iron teeth. You are tearing and pinching me everywhere, and I will have to stand in the ground bare and seared. You are treating me worse than any tree or plant."

And the gardener would then reply: "You are a fool and do not understand. For even if I do cut a branch from you, it is a totally useless branch; it takes away your strength and your sap. Then the other branches, which should bear fruit, must suffer. Away with it! This is for your own good."

Then the vine would say: "But you do not understand! I have a different feeling about it!"

 The gardener declares: "But I understand it well. I am doing this for your welfare, to keep the foreign and wild branches from sucking out the strength and the sap of the others. Now you will be able to yield more and better fruit and produce good wine."

The same thing is true when the gardener applies the cow manure to the root of the vine; this, too he does for the benefit of the vine even though the vine might complain and say: "What in the world are you doing? Isn't it bad enough for you to hack and cut at me all day long, trimming this and cutting off that branch? Why, now are you putting that foul smelling stuff at my roots?! I am a vine, to yield delicious grapes to make wonderful wine, and you are putting that terrible smelling stuff near me, it will destroy me!"[1]

 Of course, we know well that the badly smelling manure does well to put fertilizer and nutrients into the soil so that the vine might grow and prosper and produce an even better crop.

What Luther is saying here, indeed, what Christ is saying, is that sometimes life hurts. Sometimes life stinks. But God the gardener knows better than we the branches. And He has our best interests in mind, though it may not always seem so to us.

Apart from Jesus, we die. That’s the reality. Sin is a withering disease that would destroy us. But with Jesus. And in Jesus. There is life. His death on the cross. And His rising from the dead. Bring new and true and eternal life to all His people. In this Easter season we are continually reminded that Christ is the source for our life – life with God, and life even from the dead.

 Faith prays for God’s will to be done. Not our will. And with such a prayer you can never go wrong. Sometimes behind God’s apparent, “no”, there is an even bigger yes. As Paul says,   For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ.” -2 Corinthians 1:20

Faith prays that we will remain in Christ. That our sins are forgiven. That our eternity with God is secure. And faith is never disappointed.

Faith prays that we stay connected to the True Vine. That we receive our sustenance from Him. That we bear much fruit, in him. Faith prays that we find our life, always, only, in Him. And faith is never disappointed.

I am the Vine,” Jesus says, “You are the branches.” “Remain in me, and I will remain in you.


Passive Sentences-5%
Reading Level- 4.0

[1] Luther, Martin: Pelikan, Jaroslav Jan (Hrsg.); Oswald, Hilton C. (Hrsg.); Lehmann, Helmut T.

(Hrsg.): Luther's Works, Vol. 22: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4. Saint Louis:

Concordia Publishing House, 1999, c1957 (Luther's Works 22), S. 22

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