The True Vine

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

John 15:1-17 | February 2 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
February 2
The True Vine | John 15:1-17
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Our gracious heavenly Father, we come again because we need to hear from You again. Would You free us from distraction, would You help us to listen? Our minds can so easily be in 10,000 other places, even after a half hour of worship this morning. And so fix our attention because we need to hear from You. Pray that this Word would be fitly spoken, humbly spoken, boldly spoken, and Your People would have humble ears to hear it. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Jesus is the bread of life. He is the true manna from heaven, food for the hungry. Unless you feast on Him, you have no life in you. Jesus is the light of the world, the pillar of fire in the wilderness, salvation in a dark world. Unless you believe that He is the coming again Messiah, you will die in your sins.

Jesus is the gate for the sheep. He is the passover door, the entryway into the fold. Unless you come in by Jesus, you are a thief and a robber.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He knows His flock. He calls them by name. Unless He is your Shepherd, you will not be safe from wolves, you will not lie down in green pastures.

Jesus is the resurrection and the lift. Whoever believes in Him will never die. Unless you belong to Him, you will not live forever in the age to come.

Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Messiah God in the flesh. There is no other. Unless you know the Son and honor the Son, you neither know the Father nor honor the Father.

And Jesus is the True Vine. He is the One in whom we must abide if we are to bear fruit. Unless you abide in Him, you will be gathered like dead branches and thrown into the fire.

Seven “I am” statements in which Jesus could not make His messianic claims any clearer. And in each one, He not only states who He is, but He holds out a promise for all who believe in Him, and there is a warning for all who would reject Him.

And this morning we come to the seventh of those “I am” statements that Jesus is the Vine.

Follow along as I read from John chapter 15, verses 1 through 17, John 15.

“‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in Me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. 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. If you abide in Me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.'”

“‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you. These things I command you, so that you will love one another.'”

We have already seen in previous chapters how Jesus is the embodiment of different aspects and symbols of Israel’s history. So we saw He was the Bread of Life, He’s like the manna that God gave Israel in the wilderness. Then He was the Light of the World, like the pillar of fire which led the Israelites at night. And we saw He’s the gate for the sheep, like the pillars of the doorposts, stained with the Lamb’s blood at the Passover, which meant salvation for all of the Israelites. So we’ve already seen how He fulfills certain symbols in Israel’s history.

And now we see in this final “I am” statement Jesus claims not just to be the embodiment of some part of Israel’s history, but to be the embodiment of Israel itself.

Many times in the Old Testament God’s people are likened to a vine or to a vineyard. Just listen to a few examples.

Hosea 10:1 and 2: “Israel is a luxuriant vine that yields its fruit. The more its fruit increase, the more altars he built. As his country improved, he improved his pillars. Their heart is false; now they must bear their guilt. The Lord will break down their altars and destroy their pillars.”

Jeremiah 2:21: “Yet I planted you a choice vine of pure seed. How then have you turned degenerate and become a wild vine?”

And then Isaiah 5: “Let me sing for my beloved. My love song concerning his vineyard. My beloved had a vineyard on a very fertile hill. He dug it and cleared it of stones and planted it with choice vines. He built a watchtower in the midst of it and hewed out a wine vat in it and he looked for it to yield grapes, but it yielded grapes.”

Now there’s many more passages, but just did you hear two themes in those Old Testament verses? One, that Israel in each instance is the Lord’s vine, or the Lord’s vineyard. Hosea, Jeremiah, Isaiah, speaking about God’s people. They are the vine.

The second theme, did you notice in each of those, that the Lord’s vine had become wild? Degenerate? It was bearing bad fruit. It was a vine that had gone wild and needed to be rejected and cut off. And this is a theme in a number of Jesus’ parables. A master will plant a vineyard and he goes away and while he is away the tenants kill the master’s servant, they kill the master’s son, and so he returns, the tenants are punished. That vineyard, like Matthew 20, the laborers in the vineyard, is surely an illustration for God’s people.

And incidentally, that passage of the parable of the laborers in the vineyard, where one comes at 6 in the morning and then at 9 and noon and finally somebody comes at 5:00 p.m., right before quitting time, and Jesus says to each of them they get a denarius. Now, the main point of that is for Jesus to explain that the Gentiles who are coming into the kingdom now at the eleventh hour receive the same inheritance and the same blessings as the Jews who have endured the heat of the day. The vineyard is a reference to God’s people, and some had been there a long time, and some had just arrived, but all of them in Christ receive the same denarius.

So Jesus often is telling stories about a vineyard. Here he’s not telling a parable, but a teaching. The vine in the Old Testament and in Jesus’ parables often functions as a symbol for Israel, often God is angry with His vineyard.

But here’s Jesus, and He doesn’t just pronounce judgment on the vine or threaten to uproot the vine. No, He states in no uncertain terms, now this is putting a different spin on things, He is the vine. He is the embodiment of Israel.

You have to understand, they were steeped in their Bible. Sometimes we may think, “Well, these sort of Old Testament allusions, well, they escaped people.” Well, obviously, they could have. Nicodemus didn’t understand what he should have understood from the Old Testament. But you have to remember that most Jews knew their Bibles better than you know your Bible. Even with our education and universal literacy. They didn’t have TV, they didn’t have movies, their cellphones got very bad coverage. They didn’t have the Super Bowl. I mean, they had other sorts of distractions, I’m sure, but what they knew, they knew the Bible.

And so surely they were familiar. Vineyard, vine. They’re thinking, “That’s us.” And Jesus says, “I am the Vine.”

So to be a part of the vineyard now is not as it could have seemed before, just a sort of ethnic heritage, but it is chiefly and solely to belong to Jesus. See, this is the point in Romans 9 and Romans 2, where Paul says a man is not a Jew only outwardly. That’s not a true Jew. A true Jew is one inwardly. True circumcision is of the heart. To be a real child of Abraham is not just who your daddy was and who your granddaddy was. No, the real child, no matter who your family is, now you can be a part of the family of God. Now, there was always that possibility, but by and large it was confined to ethnic Israel.

So Jesus is saying something very monumental in John 15. He says from now on the decisive characteristic for membership among God’s people is to abide in Me.

You see, in one fell swoop, He sort of cut them all off from the vine, ’cause they thought they were the vine, and then He gives in the next breath an opportunity for all of them to be grafted back in. “You’re not, I’m the vine and you’re the branches. And if you want to be a part of this vineyard, it’s not something that you just inherit, 12 Jewish males, disciples, because you happen to be Jewish men. No, you must abide in Me.”

And this is why the Church can be called the Israel of God, in Galatians 6:16, because now those who belong to Christ are the new vineyard because He is the true vine.

Listen to this messianic prophecy from Psalm 80. It says “You brought a vine out of Egypt, You drove out the nations, You planted it, You cleared the ground for it. It took root, filled the land.” So that’s about Israel. The psalmist goes on to say God has dealt with harshly. And beginning in Psalm 80, verse 14, we read this: “Turn again, O God of hosts! Look down from heaven and see; have regard for this vine, the stock that Your right hand planted, and for the Son whom You made strong for Yourself. They have burned it with fire; they have cut it down; may they perish at the rebuke of your face! But let Your hand be on the man of your right hand, the Son of Man whom You have made strong for yourself. Then we shall not turn back from You; give us life, and we will call upon Your name! Restore us, O Lord. Let your face shine, that we may be saved.”

You see, that’s a messianic prophecy, that God is going to uproot His vine, it’s become a wild vine, it’s rejected their maker, but there is one like a Son of Man who is coming, and He will reestablish this vine. He will revive the people. He will restore the vine that God planted, which is what Jesus did. He came to restore Israel, but not just to restore Israel, to reconstitute Israel around Himself, that this is now what it means, more than keeping the law of Moses, more than worshiping at the temple, more than following kosher food, now, He says, very scandalously and they couldn’t have fully understood it, to be an Israelite, to be one of God’s chosen people, is to belong to Jesus, the true and only vine.

And so we should remember that to be true Israel, to be really a part of God’s family, is, if we’re going to transpose this to our sort of circumstances, it’s more than going to church, it’s more than having church clothes, it’s more than memorizing Bible verses, it’s more than having the right beliefs about marriage or about the Trinity… To be an Israelite, a true Israelite, God’s chosen people, is to belong to Jesus.

And just as there was a danger in the first century, many of them thought, “We are in like Flynn. I’ve never met a Flynn, but we are in like that because we’re Jews. Come on. Our family been doing this, we know the rules, we know how to dress, we now what to eat, we know where to go, we know the prayers. We are the vineyard.”

In the same way we might think, “We’re in. Our family’s been doing this forever. I know where to sit. Nobody else can sit there.” Don’t do that. “I know where to do, I know what to say, I know how to pray, I know what to sing. Yeah, I got it, I got it, I got it. Another sermon. I’m in.”

Jesus would say a warning to you: “Don’t assume you’re a vineyard, don’t assume you’re a vine. You are a vine upon this one condition, that you abide in Me.”

What does that mean? Let’s look at this word “abide.” Some translations will say “remain.” It’s obviously the central word in this text. It appears a number of times. The Greek word “meno” can be remain, or abide.

How do we understand it? It sounds good. It sounds very spiritual. “Man, you just gotta abide with Jesus.” That’s good. How do I do that? He’s not here in the flesh. I, I can’t just hang out with Him.

What does it mean? To abide certainly means to believe, that’s the whole aim of John’s Gospel, to believe. It’s not less than that, but it is more than that. To abide is covenantal language. The promise of the Abrahamic covenant, which finds its fullest expression in the new covenant is that “I will be a God to you and you will be My people.”

When God came to Abraham and He promised him three things. He promised, “I’m going to give you a son, I’m going to give you land, but then the third thing, bigger than all of that, I’ll be a God to you and to your children after you, and I’ll be a God to you and you will be My people.” It was a promise of abiding. It was a promise of presence.

To abide with Jesus means He’s present with you, in you. You share with Him thoughts, affections, intentions, desires.

Let me use a very flawed analogy. Very flawed. If you’re a high school student and you are very much head over heels, boyfriend, girlfriend, you’ve had the DTR, define the relationship, talk. You’ve said, “Do you like me?” She says, “Yeah, I like you.” And you said, “No, I mean do you like me like me?” And she says, “Yeah, I like you like you.” And you go home and you’re excited and you, you say to your friends, “Man, I am really into her and I think she is really into me, too.” What do you mean when you say “I’m into her”? You mean “I’m wrapped up in her, I enjoy her, I long to be with her, we are into each other, we want to be with each other. We abide.” Imperfect analogy.

Abide is Bible spiritual language. Think, “Are you into Jesus?” Would anyone spot out your life and say, “Man, you, you, something happened to you.” Just like you would, you know, your first boyfriend, girlfriend, and there’s just something sparkling and there’s baby unicorns everywhere and even baby Yoda maybe. [laughter] It’s just great. Everything’s beautiful. Something different. You’re into each other. Are you into Jesus? Can anybody see that about you?

So abide, very nice word, good translation here, think, “Are you into Jesus, ’cause Jesus wants to be into you.”

Look at verse 4: “Abide in Me, I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.”

Not remaining in Him, not having fellowship with Him, not belonging to and believing in Him, is a bad thing. Look what happens.

Verse 5: You abide in Me, much fruit.

Verse 6: If you don’t abide in Me, you get thrown away and you get burnt up.

Jesus says, I mean, He has the audacity to say, “If you don’t abide in Me, you can do nothing.” Nothing. Now He doesn’t mean you can’t change a flat tire or you can’t go to school or you can’t learn to read. He says you can do nothing of real lasting spiritual significance. That’s an audacious thing to say. We’re so used it. Most of Jesus’ saying things like that. You wouldn’t say that. I wouldn’t say that. Here’s the secret to your spiritual life: If you want to be a really good Christian, you need to be into me. You need to really be into your pastor. You need to spend all the time with your pastor. That sounds a little self-serving, and it is, unless you’re the Messiah.

You can do nothing. Now you can do, you can have the American dream. You might even be able to have a nice family. You might be able to be popular. You might even be able to get a big church. But you can’t do anything of real eternal lasting significance unless you abide in Jesus. You don’t bear fruit. If the branches are not connected to the vine, drawing nourishment from the vine, they’re going to be barren. No one will be able to pick your fruit, eat it, grow in the Lord, come to know the Lord, be satisfied in God. You may even come to church, but if there is no life-giving, soul-satisfying, sweet-tasting abiding in Jesus, you will be a bump on a log, and bumps on a log are the kind of dead branches that get lopped off.

You see in verse 2: Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away.

And verse 6: If anyone does not abide in Me he is thrown away, withers, gathered, thrown into the fire to be burned.

We’ve got to pause here because this sounds like, “Oh, Jesus, can I lose my salvation? Can I become unjustified? Can I be one of Your chosen people and then I don’t do enough good things and I get unchosen?”

No, clearly that doesn’t fit with what Jesus has had in the rest of the book. That when you come to Him you’ll never be cast out, and whoever believes in Him already is in possession of eternal life. So that’s not what He’s saying.

But He does mean to tell you, you can have some sort of relationship to the vine and still be cut off, because this is covenantal language, too. When God made a covenant, it would say in Hebrew He would cut a covenant. He would cut a covenant because some of the covenantal imagery involved literally cutting animals, but it also, what was the covenant sign in the Old Testament? It was cutting away the foreskin of the male flesh, which was a sign of God cutting away the hardness of your heart, but it was also in reverse a sign of potential judgment, that you will be cut off if you prove to not be one who remains in the covenant.

So listen, Jesus is not saying that people who truly belong to Him will ever be cast aside. That is not possible. Those whom He foreknew, He called; those whom He called, He justified, justified, glorified… The chain will not be broken. Jesus will not lose one of all that the Father has given to Him.

But here’s what Jesus is saying, and the Bible says in a number of places, and we need to hear it clearly: You can have a connection to Israel, or in the New Testament you can have a connection to Jesus, you can have a connection to the Church, and be a fraud. You’ve gotta hear this. Young people, you have to hear this, you have to hear this. You, you’re going to church, some of you, you’re going to Covenant Day School some of you, you’re learning Bible verses, amen, that’s what my kids are doing, I’m so thankful for all of it. But you have to hear – you must abide in Jesus, not just be planted near a vine, you must be in the vine. Not just next to mom and dad’s vine… In the vine with Jesus, abiding in Jesus.

So Jesus is not saying you can lose your salvation. What He is saying is there are also sorts of people who may be in a physical way connected to the things of God who have no real spiritual life. No spiritual vitality. And they end up withering and being thrown into the fire. That is a warning we need to hear. We must remain, we must abide in Jesus.

How do we do that? Let me just quickly give you a few ways.

First, if you are to remain in Jesus, you must remain in His love. Love at verse 9: “As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Abide in My love.” I think that means, in part, our strategy for abiding in Jesus is to remember how He loves us. You see the connection? “Father has loved Me, I love you, abide in My love.” There’s a connection. How do you do this abiding? Well, part of it is you are cognizant of My love for you. You’re never going to stick with Jesus in the midst of suffering, disappointment, or just boredom, that’s part of life, unless you know how deeply Christ is for you, loves you.

You notice the language here in verse 13, famously: “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” Interestingly, the Bible never talks about God as our friend. He’s king, husband, father, sovereign. He’s not called a friend. But we are called His friends. Abraham and Moses are called friends of God, but they don’t dial up God and say, “Hey, friend.” Those who belong to Jesus are His friends.

I remember hearing Tim Keller say in a sermon one time I think on this passage that we are friends with Jesus because He lets us in.

You see that in verse 15: No longer servants. A servant doesn’t know what his master is doing. A servant just, you know, hears instructions, hears orders, but now I’ve let you in. I’ve told you, I’ve been vulnerable with you, I’ve told you about the Father, I’ve revealed things to you. You’re not a servant, you’re not a hired hand, you’re My friend.

Isn’t that part of what being a friend is? You could say friends tell secrets to one another. If you’re best friend is your spouse, it’s because you intimately know one another and you know things about each other, have experiences with each other, that no one else shares. But you have other kinds of friends, too. You can just, you know, somebody says the word, “doughnut trip,” and everybody starts, your friends, and you just start laughing because you all remember that thing and what happened and that crazy time you had. That’s, that’s friends. You let each other in.

And I think maybe that’s why God is not called our friend, because we have, we don’t let Him in. He knows everything.

But there are those few occasions, Moses, Abraham, friend of God, here very explicitly we’re said to be Jesus’ friends.

Think of a friend, someone who knows you, someone who’s walked with you through hard times, spouse, roommate, mentor, a friend. Now when you have that, that friend who’s been with you, you’ve known them. I mean, I have friends from all different spots in my life, like many of you do. My oldest friend is a friend that I met when we were in kindergarten together. We still see each other once every few years and live in different places. I have friends from college, friends from seminary, friends from Michigan, friends from Iowa, friends from different places I’ve lived just like you, and you have those people, they’ve walked with you a long time. Don’t you give them the benefit of the doubt? You know, they say something it doesn’t sound quite right. You say, but we’ve been together for a long time. They give you advice and maybe it kind of hurts your feelings, but they’ve earned that right. They do some things once in a while and you think, “I can’t quite understand why you would act like that or what’s really going on or why I haven’t heard from you for a while,” but they’re your friend and you trust them.

How much more than do we trust Jesus, who never lets us down? How much more do we trust Jesus who never does us wrong? Even when we go through those seasons in life and we feel like I don’t really get what God’s doing, I don’t understand this, it doesn’t make sense to me, some of the things seem to be really hurtful to me, I can’t, I can’t make heads or tail of what in the world, why God would be doing this.

But you remember, as the Father has loved the Son, so the Son loves you. Jesus loves you and He laid down His life for you. You’re His friend. He loves you and He even likes you.

See, love is, well, we know that, everyone just sort of loves, loves us so much. That sounds a little different in Jesus, He likes you. Really? Because of His grace in you, because of His work in you, because of dying for your sin, He loves you, He likes you, and doesn’t that help you abide? Okay, I can stick with Jesus because He’s never going to leave me. He’s always been there for me. I abide in Him when I know how much He loves me, as His friend.

Second, if you are to abide in Jesus, His words must abide in you. Isn’t it amazing, Jesus almost equates Himself abiding in us with His words abiding in us. History and His revelation are virtually interchangeable. He is literally incarnate revelation.

So don’t fall into that trap, “Well, I’m just into Jesus, I’m into the Word, capital With, and you Christians you can have your word, little W. I’m not, I don’t worship the Bible, I worship Jesus.”

Well, okay, yeah, we know that. This didn’t die on the cross for your sins. This is not God, but this is, this is the Word of God and bears the character of God, and is as divine and trustworthy as God, so don’t, don’t separate the Word inscripturated from the Word incarnated. Jesus doesn’t do that.

He says, pick it up at verse 10, “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments.”

And then, back up at verse 7, “If you abide in Me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.”

He says the two interchangeably. “You want Me to abide? Get my words to abide.”

So there’s a very practical way in which we can abide in Jesus. Don’t what you to leave here and just think, “Okay, that’s good, how do I do this? What does this mean?”

Well, if you want to drink deeply, intimately, and frequently of Jesus, you must drink deeply, intimately, frequently from the Bible.

Can I just say this? Because I don’t want to presume where you are in your walk with the Lord. I was just talking to my wife about this yesterday, is that habit of having a time in the Word each morning, you know, is there a Bible verse that says hear ye, hear ye, you must have quiet time in the morning? Well, if you’ve got a bunch of kids, quiet time has got to be imaginary quiet time. That’s why you get AirPods and you just put them in there and it’s… Yeah, doesn’t have to be in the morning, doesn’t have to be quiet, doesn’t have to be long, but listen, if you really want, if you’re serious about abiding in Jesus, you have to be serious about the Word abiding in you.

So if you have never, and I’m talking whether you’re 50 or you’re 15 or you’re 8 and you can read, it’s a good time to start that habit, a chapter a day, five verses a day, five minutes a day, something, that habit of every day, even if you’re at the busiest stage of your life, mom, something every day with Jesus’s words abiding in you. That’s how Jesus is going to abide in you. When you put His Word into your heart. Drink deeply, drink often, from the Bible and Jesus will abide in you.

Now you can do that and still not feel close to Jesus, but it’s amazing how many times people say, “Pastor, I just, I feel so far from Jesus.” Well, tell me, are you abiding in His Word? “Well, that just felt rote and that got really dry.” Not surprised then that as you stop that, Jesus felt even farther and farther away. Press through those times where it feels like nothing is happening. Drink deeply of His Word.

You know, you read books on running, which I’m sure you all do, and they always talk about how do you hydrate when you do a long race. And one of the things they say is you can’t count on just when you’re thirsty. When you’re thirsty, you’re probably already getting dehydrated. You have to be drinking when you don’t know that you’re, you’re thirsty.

The same with God’s Word. You need to be doing it before you realize that something’s not right. Before you think “I’m starving and I’m thirsty,” you come to this every day, drink deeply of God’s Word and He’ll abide in you.

And then third, if you are to abide in Jesus, you must keep His commands. We just saw this in verse 10: If you keep my commandments, you’ll abide in My love just as I have kept my Father’s commandments. This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you. Then down to verse 17: These things I command you so that you will love one another.

We should not expect to experience God fully apart from cheerful obedience to His commands.

Earlier Jesus said, “If you love Me,” chapter 14 verse 23, “if anyone loves Me he will” what? He will sing praise music in the car. Well, that’s okay. If anyone loves Me, he will always feel a special warm, tingly feeling in his heart. If anyone loves Me, she will always have a mountaintop experience. No, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My words.”

You abide in Jesus by obeying His words. Abiding is not quietistic, passive, wait until Jesus makes me feel all gooey again. It’s spiritual but it’s concrete. You know His love, you imbibe His words, you keep His commandments.

And look what happens when you abide. You see verse 16: You bear fruit. So you’re helpful to others, you display the characteristics of the Spirit. People pluck from your life and mmm, wow, that tastes like love, joy, peace, patience… Hanging around you just tastes like kindness. Something about you smells like self-control. The fruit of the Spirit. You bear fruit.

And look at what happens when you bear fruit. So that’s at the end of the passage. Go back up to the beginning, verse 2: “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, removed, take away. Every branch that does gets pruned.” Good news – if you’re getting pruned right now, you feel like this is a season God’s cutting away, He’s trimming things down, He’s removing weeds, good news: He does that because He loves you. He does that because you’re bearing fruit. If there was nothing, if you were not a real branch, real connected to the vine, if you had no fruit, He just throws you away, gathers you up, burns you like it says. It’s when you bear fruit that you have the loving and painful experience of being pruned.

Now right now, beautiful day, it’s going to be 50s, it’s sunny. This is how winter ought to be. But you do need… I was down in Florida last week for a day and it was warm and I said “how’s your weather?” and it’s “we need to get some cold weather because we need to kill the bugs.” We need to kill the bugs and we need to kill the weeds, because, you know, by the end of the summer and getting into the fall you’re ready for some of that because the weeds are everywhere.

And it won’t be long, here in Charlotte, before you’ll see flowers blooming and the trees will get green quickly, and then it won’t be long before you hear that humming of lawnmowers again. And you’ll be out and you’ll be, what are you doing? You’re pruning. What does it mean when you have to prune? It means there’s life, it means winter is over, spring is here, things are growing.

You know, this is where bugs are dead, stuff is dead, don’t have to mow the lawn.

But when you have that experience to prune, it’s good. There’s life.

And so when you have that experience of discipline from the Father, of perhaps eating that humble pie, somebody giving you a rebuke that you don’t want to receive, being made to see your sin, being shown that the weaknesses you have… All of that is because God loves you. And He prunes you.

And here, last thing and we’re done: When you abide, you bear fruit, you get pruned, and then look at verse 11. You get joy. “These things I have spoken to you that My joy may be in you and your joy may be full.” This process – remaining, growing, pruning – is not so you have pain, so you have joy. And you need to know this.

How do you endure the pruning? How do you get up and read your Bible one more day? How do you keep loving your neighbors? How do you do the hard work of obedience? How do you turn off all the temptations when they give you pleasure in the moment? You do it because you’re confident that God is for you and wants your joy. He wants you to have life in the vine. He wants you to bear fruit. He wants you to be beautiful with flowers and He wants you to have joy. I=

If Jesus is the bread of life, the light of the world, the gate, the Good Shepherd, the resurrection, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the vine, then even though we do not see Him, we can as Peter said rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory.

So here’s what I want to ask you, last question: Do you believe that Jesus is the path to real joy?

Okay, I believe He died on the cross, I believe He’s the Son of God. Good, good, good. Do you believe He’s the path for real lasting joy? Because if that’s true, then that’s going to determine how we live, what we read, how we obey, how we persevere, because we’re confident on the other side of this is joy.

The true vine is not calling you to a famine. He is inviting you to a feast.

Let’s pray. Our gracious heavenly Father, how fitting that we would reflect upon Your Son, the true vine, as now we come to the table, to the feast that You have prepared before us. Where we have intangible form, the bread of life, and the fruit of the vine. Thank You for all that You are and do and will be for us when we abide in Jesus. Cause us to feast upon Him, we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.