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Stay Connected to the Vine

08.29.21 Nathaniel Wall

  1. Full of Joy
    09.19.21 32m 40s
  2. Refuse to Fall
    09.12.21 40m 52s
  3. When the World Hates
    09.05.21 38m 58s
  4. Stay Connected to the Vine
    08.29.21 45m 09s
  5. Do Works Greater Than Jesus?!
    08.22.21 40m 38s
  6. For The Troubled Heart
    08.15.21 46m 45s
  7. Victorious Christian Living
    08.01.21 46m 07s
  8. What You Should Do With Clean Feet
    07.25.21 47m 11s
  9. Dinner with Jesus
    07.18.21 42m 53s
  10. 5 Truths for Troubled Souls
    07.11.21 49m 47s
  11. The Triumphal Entry
    07.04.21 43m 23s
  12. Mary Anoints Jesus
    06.27.21 42m 28s
  13. Raising Lazarus
    06.20.21 39m 15s
  14. Jesus and the Father are One
    06.13.21 47m 12s
  15. How Good is the Good Shepard?
    06.06.21 40m 16s
  16. Was Blind But Now I See
    05.30.21 45m 25s
  17. Live Free
    05.23.21 38m 07s
  18. The Light of the World
    05.16.21 34m 45s
  19. Condemnation and the Gospel
    05.09.21 34m 31s
  20. Not The What But The Who
    05.02.21 40m 24s
  21. The Significance of Feasts
    04.25.21 38m 53s
  22. Eat Jesus
    04.18.21 39m 06s
  23. Faith Through The Storm
    04.11.21 37m 51s
  24. Worship When You Struggle
    03.28.21 35m 25s
  25. Healthy Conflict
    03.21.21 43m 50s
  26. Pick Up Your Mat and Walk
    03.14.21 33m 45s
  27. Cling To His Word
    02.28.21 33m 07s
  28. The Scandalous Grace Of God
    02.21.21 38m 55s
  29. The Strength of Humble Faith
    02.14.21 36m 11s
  30. Life Over Death
    02.07.21 46m 45s
  31. Do Not Waver
    01.31.21 43m 16s
  32. Jesus Makes Wine
    01.24.21 36m 36s
  33. The Story of Us
    01.17.21 40m 44s
  34. What Made John Great?
    12.27.20 34m 29s
  35. Why Jesus?
    12.20.20 31m 51s
  36. The Word of Light and Life
    12.13.20 34m 02s

Stay Connected to the Vine

08.29.21 Nathaniel Wall Light the Dark Series

I want to invite you to John 15 is where we’re going to be today, John 15. And if you’ve been here with us through this Book of John especially last couple of weeks, you’ve known, I have said this several times. This is my favorite section of scripture, John 13-17. These chapters, Jesus’ final hours on this earth. He chooses to spend in a very intimate setting with His closest followers, communicating to them what it means to be a true disciple, true follower of Christ, beautiful passage of scripture. In John 15, He’s going to get to a really a so what do you do with your life kind of a place. And it’s built off of what we experienced in 13-14. If you remember John 13, it really starts with a servant heart of Jesus washing the feet of the disciples. He even washes Judas’ feet and tells us that Judas is about to betray Him.

A very loving, very gracious, He looks His enemy in the face and still loves and cares for him. Jesus conducted Himself in the same manner, same character throughout His ministry. Very beautiful servant heart. Jesus does this to Judas tells the disciples He is leaving, disciples freak out. Peter says the end of 13. “Ain’t no way that’s happening. I’m going down guns blazing.” And Jesus tells even Peter that “You’re going to deny me before the night’s over.” And then when you get to John 14, Jesus knows that the disciples are in turmoil, they’re looking at Jesus, thinking of Jesus is going down. “What’s going to happen to us because we have followed after Him and the world knows that we’re followers of Him, we’ve given up everything last three years to pursue Jesus. And now Jesus is telling us He’s gone. And if people are going to hate Him to the point they’re going to kill Him, what are they going to do to us? They’re probably going to kill us. How in the world can we bail? How in the world can we hide?” All this turmoil in their heart.

And that’s where Jesus starts John 14, “Let not your heart be troubled.” And then He gives us these wonderful promises. He tells us in John 14, “Greater works than these you’re going to do.” Talking about His life, you’ve seen Jesus saying, “You’ve seen what I’m doing in this world, just wait till you see what I’m going to do through the church.” And Jesus says “So greater works will God’s people do in this world?” And the question for us will be how in the world are we going to do that? And Jesus tells us, here’s the promise Holy Spirit in John 14. “I will be with you. And I will be in you.” In verse 17 and 18. “I will not leave you as orphans.” What Jesus wanted to do in this world did not end at His death, that it was a part of His plan. In fact, it would impact not just this region of Jerusalem where Jesus is doing ministry, but all over the world.

And it is an incredible thought because He tells us one of those famous verses. I told you is a great verse to memorize John 14:6. He says, “I am the way the truth and the life.” That’s what Jesus says at a time where the disciples are looking at Jesus, figuring out “How can I back away? How can we run away? How can we hide? How can we preserve our own hind in from what’s about to happen?” Jesus is saying, “Don’t do that, you need to lean harder into me because this is just the beginning of greater things to come. And Jesus then at the end of chapter 14 says and to the disciples, “Now let’s get up and go.”

And I got to think at the end of that chapter, I would be looking at this and be like, go where? And like “You’re God, what’s going to happen?” But He’s given these incredible promises of the Spirit of God in us and working through us and greater works than these you’ll do. And when you get to John 15, Jesus and expounds upon that idea, “Let’s get up and go.” There’s no time to set and sock the mission that we’ve called you to in this world is so powerful, so incredible that God would work in you to do this, that we have a future. And we can think about that future. So let’s move forward. And I think at the end of chapter 14, when Jesus is saying, “Let’s get up and go,” He’s meaning specifically in that moment. “Dinner was great guys. Now it’s time to move on the crosses before.” So I think that’s specifically what He means. But I think He also broadens the idea.

Now when you get to John 15, you see this. Jesus, as He says, “Let’s get up and go.” He then as they go, as they start to go, I should say, then starts to paint a bigger picture of continue to keep going. In John 15:1, He says it like, this is a very interesting way Jesus chooses to say it to us. But John 15:1. Give me a quick Caleb. He says, “I am the true vine. And my Father is the vine dresser.” You want to know why you can get up and go in Jesus? “I am the vine.” Which if I’m just thinking about this moment, thinking about everything that we need to be successful, realizing that it’s going to feel like all of Jewish society is against you. All of Rome is against you as Jesus is about to be crucified. If I were to pick an illustrator for me, I’m probably not going to open up this way. “Guys, sorry, I’m a vine.”

You might as well be a beautiful butterfly. Like, What does this have to do? In our context, we say things like I am Rocky Balboa, Jason Bourne morphed into one. That’s who I am. Let’s do this. And you charge the hill, but Jesus says, “I am the vine.” What is this? But when you contextualize Jesus’ comment in first century, Judaism, what you begin to realize is in Old Testament, the vine was a very common phrase. In fact, God repetitiously referred to Israel as His vine. But the problem was is that every time God referred to Israel as His vine, the vine never did what the vine was designed to do. Isaiah 5, the chapter talks repetitiously about the failure of the vine. And even in Jeremiah 2:21, listen to this Jesus or the Lord says this about Israel. He says, “Yet, I planted you as a choice vine, a completely faithful seed. How then have you turned yourself before me into the degenerate shoots of a foreign vine?”

What He’s saying is “You’ve done what you’re designed to do and you don’t even belong to me. You’re separate from me. This is not what I planted you as.” And then Jesus shows up. And Jesus says in the midst of Israel’s failure, “You know who I am? I am the true Israelite. I am the true vine. Where Israel failed, I have succeeded. I am the one that you’ve been waiting for.” That’s what Jesus is saying in this passage. The vine is here and the vine has done what the Father has called Him to do. And so in verse two, “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, He takes away. And every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”

Jesus in the story being the vine then gives this illustration of what He desires to see in our lives as we turn to Him. But I want you to see something interesting here in verse two, and I’ll let you know this. This is actually a debated that verse in scripture because when you come to the section where He says “Every branch in me that that does not bear fruit, He takes away.” There’s a translational choice that those that read the Greek texts, the New Testament was written in the Greek text originally, translated today for us in English. There’s a couple of ways that you can translate this word arrow. “He takes away” can either be, He literally rips it off and takes it away, or it can mean He lifts it up. And most translations go with the He takes away. But the actual predominant way the word is used as He lifts it up.

And so translators who choose to say the word He takes away here are going against what the most traditional way this Greek word is used, which is He lifts it up. And I tend to think in this passage of scripture and you can work on this yourself and come back and tell me your opinion later. But I think that what He means in this Greek word is He lifts it up and I’ll give you why in this context, we’re going to talk about taking away in a minute. When we get to verse five and six, because Jesus certainly does that. But I think in this passage, He’s talking about lifting up and here’s why. If you read it that sense, here’s what God is saying. “Every branch in me that does not bear fruit.” Here’s what God’s desires for you. His desire as you are success in Him. He’s the vine, He’s identified Himself as the vine and He wants you to flourish in Him, that’s why He came.

And so when you think about what it is to grow grapes, if you’ve got grapes dragging on the ground, or at least the vine dragging on the ground you know what’s going to not grow on that vine? Grapes. It’s not going to live the way it was designed to live. And so what does Jesus desire? For that branch to succeed. And so what does He do in order for that branch to succeed? Because His desires for your heart to flourish in Him, is He lifts it up. He lifts it up and then it goes on there and says this. “And every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.” His desire for your life is this. He wants to see you flourishing in Him and succeeding. And so whether He needs to lift you up or prune you that God would see this happen in your life and continue to happen in your life all the days of your life. And so in verse three, He says this, “You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.”

So as we’ve gone through chapter 13 and 14, Jesus is saying, “This has been a very soul preparing, soul cleansing place for your life to be in, because I have shared this with your soul and your soul is resting in this. Now you as a vine, have been purified for this purpose.” Whether it’s been to be lifted up, whether that’s what you needed in your life, maybe you’ve come in today this. And I feel like I’ve just been dragging in the dirt. If I realized that this world’s got light and darkness in it, I feel like right now that what I’m called to is to charge hell with a squirt gun. Like I’m in that kind of place in life. Whether it’s you being lifted up or whether it’s you being pruned because you bore fruit in this world for the Lord, God’s desires to see you continue in that.

So if you’re a Christian that’s been fruitful it’s not to live in the things of the past, but to represent Jesus all the days of your life, that you continue to display this fruit. And so this is an important place for us because what Jesus is about to share with us now, recognizing Himself as this vine is how to live a productive life. That’s the context of what He is saying. “Okay, disciples, now that you’ve seen me, now I’ve told you to lean harder into me. Now I’m saying greater works than these, that you’ve done. I want you to live a productive life. I want you to do what you’ve been designed to do.” So how do we live a productive life? That’s the question we should be answering when we look at this thing. So how is Jesus going to lead me into this? What does this look like?

In a religious context, this is where I would give you all the lists in the world to stress you out so that every encumbrance that you have in life, you come to church and you get more. That’s typically how religion will treat this, let me just tell you what God wants for your life in just one word, this morning. Verse four. This is what Jesus says to His disciples. “I want you to bear fruit.” Oh man, not just one fruit, lots of fruit. How am I going to do that? And then verse four, He says this, “How’s it going to happen?” Abide. Abide. If you grab the notes this morning that’s the first blank in your notes. God’s desire for your life is that you abide.

I think most people generally want to have productive fruit filled lives. I wish I could say all people and feel very confident in that, but I would say at least most people. Once I have a productive life. And the life of a Christian in pursuing Jesus, what does that mean for us? Well, Jesus says it, “Abide in me.” Not just simply abiding. It’s not like I’m just going to sit here and just be here. It’s abiding in Him. Right? “Abide in me. Abide in me and I in you, and as the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine. So neither can you, unless you abide in me.” Because that is one of the most relieving thoughts I think I could really have, especially when I consider the circumstance of Jesus’ disciples in the first century. “Jesus, you think we’re going to go into this world that hates you and do something great? How is that going to happen?” And He says, “This is really what I want for your soul. This is what you’re to do. Abide in me, abide in me.”

You’re never going to do what God calls you to do in this world until you become who God has called you to become. And that abiding is where that takes place. “Abide in me and I and you.” This is what it’s saying. If I had just painted a similar picture to the idea of a vine, it’s reaching your roots, deeper into Jesus. All the places that you could find your identity, your worth, your purpose, your value. You’re leaning back into Jesus. All that I am in all that He has, and Jesus tells us why. And in verses five and six for you to go on from just this idea of abiding. He says, “What’s the result of that?” We’re leaning into Jesus, verse five and six. “I am the vine. You are the branches. He who abides in me and I in him. He bears much fruit for apart from me, you can do nothing.”

And the things that we’re called to accomplish in this world are spiritual. And we can’t do that without the Spirit of God. And so the way that we find the Spirit of God is through Christ to allow the Spirit, to dwell in us. If we abide in Him, we bear much fruit. I love the contrast here in verse five, it’s really two options here. It’s bearing much fruit or apart from me, you do nothing. Maybe the verse related to this would be what Paul says in Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”

It’s Christ who gives us the ability to do what we’re called to do in this world. It’s not me who bears the fruit. It’s me who abides, it’s Jesus who bears the fruit in me. Ever seen a branch apart from a vine bearing fruit? Doesn’t happen. If a branch, apart from a vine is cut off, that has fruit on it. Fruit might last a little bit longer being attached to the vine because there’s a little bit of nutrients left in it, but once that’s gone, the branch is gone. And so does the fruit with it.

I mean, as a Christian not connected to Jesus, trying to do the things Jesus calls you to in this world. What you’re going to walk away looking like is someone who’s severely constipated, at least spiritually speaking. Jesus wants you attached to Him because the natural process of your life is that it bears fruit. Not that it’s your call to bear the fruit, but it’s Christ gifting to bear the fruit in you. God’s calls to simply abide and you will bear much fruit. So the result of abiding, the second blank in your notes is that you too much fruit. Jesus gives us to us in a beautiful parable. I think a couple of times in the gospels in Mark 4 and in Matthew 13, He says to the disciples, “When the gospel goes forth and it’s scattered, it bears fruit and the fruit of that or the harvest.” I think He actually says the word crop. “The crop of that is 30, 60, 100 fold.”

And for most of us who don’t live on a farm, you hear that and think, “Well, that’s great. Jesus is going to throw some seeds and some crops happen from some seeds and wonderful.” But in Jesus’ day when they would scatter seed the expectation, if it produced the plant that the harvest from that plant would be about eight to 10 produce off the plant. What Jesus is saying in first century is what He’s going to do through His gospel is unfathomable. According to the way that they experienced the growing of crops in their society. That not eight, 10 items come off the plant that we’re talking 30, 60, 100 fold. And it’s not based on your strength. It’s based on His.

Sometimes as Christians, I feel like we start to think religiously in this type of mentality, like, oh Lord I belong to Jesus always expectation of me, as I do lots of things to show Him how great He is. And I got to perform myself into the ground. But that’s not what Jesus says in this passage. Jesus says, in this passage, if you abide in Him, the natural outflow of abiding in Him will be the goodness of who He is. And it will just bless the world. The things that you love, you tend to talk about, share about, find people that want to collect around that idea too. And it perpetuates itself. You guys know, I love the Jazz disappointing they didn’t win the championship this year, but there’s always next year. And when I’m around people sometimes I talk about the Jazz. And not the music. I mean this sports team. Right.

But when we think about the idea of the Lord, when we spend time with the Lord and we’re nurtured in Lord, and we’re growing with the Lord, we’ll share the things that we’re passionate about. And your passion is contagious. It’s the Lord that fruit in you. We’ll look at this in just a minute. But sometimes in life, we get a little construed as Christians as to really what fruit is. We tend to measure our success by the accumulation of things. So if we’re not careful in church, we can measure our success as a church by how many rear ends we have in a seat. But can I tell you rear ends and a seat is not the success of a church. We say it like this sometimes it’s not in your seating capacity, but you’re sending capacity, what Jesus does in us, and therefore compels His life through us.

And the reason I say that is this, because when you even read the Old Testament, you look at some great people that may not have had the numeric success that we might often think about when we relate the word success or fruitfulness to life. For example, in the Old Testament, you’ll find a prophet named Jeremiah. Jeremiah is referred to as the weeping prophet, Jeremiah shared a message and ain’t nobody want to hear what your man I got to say. Jeremiah continued to let his message fall on deaf ears, but he did so faithful. You know why? Because his life was still fruitful. He lived his life for an audience of one. At the end of his life. You know what he wanted to do? He just wanted to honor the Lord.

At the end of your life, when God says, “Hey, let’s see if you were successful.” You know the only thing He wants to see? “Did you abide, did you abide? Did you put your roots into me?” Because the fruit wasn’t up to you, the fruits up to Him. And we’re all in different circumstances of life around different people in life. And sometimes, sometimes the soil is fresh and ready for the gospel to bring forth lots of fruit. And sometimes we’re in a place where we’ve got to till up the ground because there is a lot of gravel that’s got to get out of the way before a seed can even grow. And God knows we’re all in different places, but you know what wants? To abide. Just to abide.

And He produces the fruit and we don’t look at the fruit as if it’s some numerical achievement. That’s not what God’s after. What we’re describing truly is just faithfulness. Jesus has been nothing but faithful to you. And that’s all He will ever be. Because He is the same yesterday, today and forever. And then He calls you into that same response that’s to Him. Faithful, abide. So when you think about abiding in Christ, I think it is important for us. Well, let me say this in verse six. I didn’t get there yet. “If anyone does not abide in me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up and they gather them and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” So here we are to the place where we talk about vines, that aren’t doing what they’re supposed to do you get rid of them. And here’s the example. Maybe I could relate to us as I shared a little bit about this versus.

How many of you would sign up to say for this. This year you’re going to grow a garden. You’re going to use your whole backyard. You’re going to till up and you’re going to grow a garden. But when you grow that garden, it’s not going to produce one single thing. You’re going to labor it up all summer long. And at the end of the summer, you’re not getting anything off of that garden. There’s not one corn stock, going to have a piece of corn, not one plant where you’re going to get a tomato. No carrots, no potatoes, no nothing. You’re going to do it all summer long. It’s going to look green, but you’re going to get no fruit. Now, who would sign up for that?

If we want to go to do a garden, I’m doing a garden, if I just want to plant, I’ll grow a flower. But if I want a garden, I expect something to come out of the garden. And sometimes I think we look at Jesus and we’re like, “Jesus, what are you doing? Why would you throw these things away?” We’re talking, this is a correlation to people. Why cast some things out and some things not in. And the answer for us is because Jesus’ interest isn’t simply just to grow. He’s not just interested in adding people, just to add people. It’s like this, “Jesus, I want to get to heaven, but I really don’t care about you. How about you? Let me in your place. And you just get out of the way.” It just happened. It’s His purpose for which He created you in our lives come to this place of belonging to Jesus or not. And if you belong to Jesus, that our lives should express that through this beautiful fruit for which He has created us.

And that say the same thing is true for us as a church guys, our goal as a church I am thrilled when people come through our doors. But our ultimate goal is not just [inaudible 00:22:47] seed, it’s to see people abiding in Christ and growing in Him. That’s our goal. Anybody can create a crowd, I believe we say a lot of things, I could just get up here today and just give a self-help talk to make us feel really good about ourselves and we all walk out. Now, there are places that do that, but we are particular to the type of message we share because our heart’s desire is not to simply create a crowd. It’s to see faithfulness in Jesus. And in that faithfulness in Jesus, we see beautiful fruit born out of God’s people.

And so we think about, okay, so this abiding fruit getting life, what does it look like as it’s expressed when we live this way. Well, in verse seven to 12, Jesus shares this for us, and I left this blank in your notes, really for you to creatively fill out however you want. And I’ll give you some thoughts to put down, but Jesus goes through here and He shares with us what? Seven different things to consider when we think, okay, I’m abiding in Christ and I’m bearing fruit and Christ. I think what does that look like? When I say abiding in Christ and fruit bearing? He gives us a little bit of a place here to see our lives in this sense. Am I really reaching back into Jesus? I’m a really developing fruit? What does it mean to abide in Christ? Is it to be more aggressive in sharing my opinions on vaccines and Afghanistan in Jesus’ name, amen? Is that what it is?

Just more passionate about the things that I believe in? I don’t think necessarily that’s it. I think it’s more passionate about the things Jesus believes in and let that work through you. What does it look like? And He describes a forest in verse seven. Ready? “If you abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.” If I just said it like this, abiding in God is seeking God prayerfully. It’s seeking God prayerfully and He’s identifying for us the way that we do this and I think I shared this with this last week that oftentimes in life, we don’t use prayer the way God designed prayer. We use prayer selfishly. And I think God has more created prayer to be selfless, not selfish.

And what I mean is this is when we talk about prayer, we’re asking things to be done according to not our will. So I think sometimes we engage in prayer because there’s something I want, we want to ask God to do what it is that I want so that I can get back to living my life really with Adam to begin with. The only reason I came to Him is because I had a need. I saw Him as maybe more powerful than me and it being able to answer His name. So I asked Him to meet this need so I can continue to live like I was God of my own life. And that’s not what He’s talking about here. He’s talking about heart that genuinely is interested in what God wants to do in this world and wants to be a part of that. And so you’re seeking God in prayer to live your life, that His fruit could be made known.

So one who abides seeks God and let me just say it like this too. And I’m not meaning religiously you chunk out this time and legalistically have the pray and the prayer has to be this way every day. What I’m saying is you have this active relationship where you’re seeking God where are. You’re actively walking in a prayer life. And 1 Thessalonians 5, talks about this praying without ceasing. What it means is you’re just engaging with the Lord wherever you go, because your desire is to seek His desire in this world. And so you’re in this open communication with the Lord. That’s what a biding looks like. If you really want to belong to Jesus, you’re just engaging with the Lord as you go throughout your day. And let me just say this. When you think about the gift of what prayer needs, in order to be your best, you need rest.

And I’m a poet. To be your best you need rest. And prayer becomes that place where your soul can find rest and remind yourself, “Hey, I’m really not in charge. God is the one who produces a fruit and I can just sit here in Him and just be faithful to the Lord.” Just be faithful. And when I say rest, I don’t mean planning your vacation. You’re right. “I need rest. Let’s go one by one week vacation. Why that I needed and I’ll seek God’s face in it.” That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is you’re just in this active state of constantly coming back to the Lord throughout the day to find your rest in Him. This ongoing conversation. We know that you need Him, you need to rest in Him. You need to depend on Him. Prayer becomes that place that really demonstrates that.

So someone, seek God prayerfully. Verse eight goes on and it says, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit. And so prove to be my disciples.” Your heart is to glorify God. That’s what it means to reach your roots back into Him, to be faithful to Him. As He has honored you in your life, by giving His life for you, you then take your life to honor Him to glorify God. That’s our desire, versus eight, glorify God. And this could look two ways in our lives. One is to have a holy heart or I would say a repentant heart is another way. A holy heart means completely sold into Him. Holiness doesn’t just mean not sending, holiness means completely separate and everything else in this world and giving yourself fully over to Him. I desire to glorify God. You know what a vine branches existed to do? To glorify the vine. You know how it does that? By making grapes.

This vine is awesome. Just look at me as the branch, I’ve got wonderful grapes. And that’s what you say in your life. You look to Jesus like this. “Jesus is awesome.” And the fruit of your life just makes that known. It magnifies His brilliance in this world, it glorifies Him. And so it can be seen in our holiness, or it can be seen in an attitude of repentance, which is I was attaching myself to a different branch, and it was not what I was intended to attach myself to. So I’m turning away from this. And I’m reattaching my life to the branch for which I was designed. It’s either way, it’s glorifying the Lord. Number three and then you prove to be a follower of Christ. That’s simply to say this one who fruitfully abides as a follower of God. And I would say, when you think about this passage, it’s one that’s committed for the long haul.

I mean, at the end of your life, what do you want people to say your life was about? I don’t think it would be beautiful before Jesus, if someone encapsuled it like this, he was one who abided in Christ, or she was one who abided in Christ. Faithfully following Jesus all of your days. Verse nine, it goes on. And it says “Just as the Father has loved me, I have also loved you, abide in my love.” Because I love this. When you look at this, just these ideas of abiding, this is not a stress list of performance. This is all relational interaction that should be natural in Jesus. All of these. So what is abiding life look like? It’s all about just relationship in Jesus.

And in verse nine, He reminds us this again with the idea of love, and this becomes important for us because in this world, as you walk in this world, it doesn’t matter what era of time you live in. But we’ll say, especially today, we’re in an identity crisis. We’re always in an identity crisis as people, there’s always a spiritual battle in this world trying to get me to find my purpose in life and use it to magnify something else. But the Lord wants us to remind ourselves of in this passage, in this verse, especially is His love for us. Because as we understand the greatness of who God is, it compels our heart to respond.

When you look at the beauty of Jesus, just over the last couple of verses, when you think about how loving is He, He never stopped loving Judas to the end of His life He washed the feet of Judas. He had communion with Judas. If Jesus can love Judas, He’s not giving up on me. I got God’s love perpetual and continue on He doesn’t leave me alone. It tells me in chapter 14, not an orphan, but He gives a spirit. And the Spirit isn’t just with me. His spirit is in me. He is for me. I mean, the greatness of this God who created all things comes in the form of a flesh and gives His life that I could be set free. This God loves me like no one has ever loved me. And so this is compelling to my heart to respond in 1 John 4, we love because He first loved.

You want to know why you bear fruit or why you would even attach yourself to this vine? It’s because your heart is bought into the greatness of who He is, because you’ve seen His love on display for you life in Christians. The important part in this, don’t forget. Don’t lose sight of that in the mess of this world. Don’t let His love for you run your dry. Experience it, walking in it, renew yourself through it, abide.

So we could say it like this. You’re loved by God or you find your identity in God, verse 10 then, He goes on and says, “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love just as I kept my commandments and abide in His love.” I think this is very important just to make this nuance of understanding when you read this verse, because again, religiously we can think about, okay, here it is, obeying the rules. We should ask what the commandments are and I’ll show you in a minute. What they are very simplistic in Christianity. But here it is the list of rules now I knew was coming. He’s talking about abiding now and He’s giving me all these rules. And let me just say this. I don’t obey God. And this could be your blank is obeying God and that’s what it looks like to abide. But I don’t obey God in order to earn His love. I obey God in order to experience His love. Does that make sense?

Some people won’t love you until you do exactly what they want you to do. And then they’ll really, I don’t even think that’s love, but they’ll temporarily love you, as long as you live up to their expectations. That’s not biblical love, and that’s not God’s love. We don’t obey in order to earn God’s love. We obey in order to experience God’s love. We what I mean is this in my house, we have rules. My rules are not there to beat my children down. My rules are there to see my children flourish. That’s the desire of any rule that we have. I want to create a home that creates flourishing in the hearts of our children. Myself and my wife, right? And I think that’s God’s desire too. He’s not just creating these rules because He needs you to do certain things if you don’t, He’s going to be really disappointed in you and withhold His love. God doesn’t need you, you know that?

He doesn’t need you. He’s the one that can snap His fingers and have whatever He wants whenever He wants it. But He chose to create you because He wants to give His love away. That’s who God is. Love is about giving itself away, unconditionally, sacrificially. That’s who He is. And He gives you the invitation. “Do you want to belong in response?” And here’s how you connect yourself to Him by following after Him. And this has looked in the form of obedience, not to earn His love, but to experience His love. So in my home, my kids don’t know obey. It’s more difficult to love because they’ve created distance in their sin that doesn’t allow us to walk in unity together. But when we follow after the unity in the home, the way it’s designed, the way it’s created, then we can walk in unity together and experience that love the same is true for you with the Lord.

You know if you’re running away or not, you know if you’re drawing near or not. “By obeying you’re communicating Jesus, as you have brought yourself near to me, I desire to be near to you.” And don’t worry I’ll get to the commands in just a minute. And verse 11. Then He says this “These things I’ve spoken to you so that my joy may be in you. And that your joy may be full.” Here’s God’s desire for you. To be filled with joy, to be filled with joy. Why does He give me the abiding not to oppress you or to weigh you down, but to fill you with joy. Why? Because God knows whatever He promises you, will never fail.

If you abide in Jesus, what God promises, God will deliver. Oftentimes as people, our joy wanes because we lose hope and we lose hope because in life we see failure. In this world we can find things that bring us temporary happiness. We can, I mean, life is full of things. Bible even tells you sin is fun for a season. You can find things that bring you temporary happiness, but here’s the reality of everything in this world. It all passes away except for the truth of God, the truth of God endures forever. His promises, when you make your life about Him, His promises, His kingdom in this world, you begin to realize as you strive for that, yes, you will face adversity. Yes, there are hardships that we go through as people, but deeper than all of that, we have this great joy. And why do we have it? Because while temporarily things may go sideways in the long run, we always have the things that God has promised us in Him.

And when we make our life about those things and how more deeply and richly we have put our treasures towards evidence. So I think it becomes elates for soul to see all the expectations we have in Jesus will only be fulfilled in this world or excuse me in the world to come. So therefore I can have joy in this world knowing everything that awaits me in Christ and everything that I have in Jesus right now will never disappoint. It will never fail.

And then He gives us last idea. What does a binding fruit look like? So this is all relational. It’s all relational at this point. This abiding fruit, the way it manifests itself in this world is the seeking of God, in glorifying Him and looking as a follower of Jesus, manifesting that fruit in obedience because I deserve to be near to Him. And then in verse 12, He goes on and says this, “This is my commandment that you love one another just as I have loved you.” Mark 12:30 and 31 gives us the two commandments of the new covenant. I think for us as Christians, when you look at the Old Testament, you have over 600 commandments to obey. You look at the New Testament, you’ve got two. And they’re all relational. Love God, love others. And here’s the reality. When God does His work in you, your heart begins to become molded into loving what Jesus loves because your heart is being shaped by Jesus. As you abide.

And as your heart’s being shaped by Jesus, you abide and you begin to grow in your love for the things that Jesus loves. What you come to find out is what Jesus loves His people. And the beauty of fruit is intended to give itself away. See the natural outflow of me spending time with Jesus as I learned the truth of Jesus, the wisdom of Jesus, the love of Jesus and the result of that, what comes out of my life is that demonstration towards others. Because what I learned in my own journey is that I was a sinner and I still sin. And God didn’t give up on me, and God came for me, and God every day continues to pursue me. In that way that God’s love has transformed my life. It can have the same effect on others. And so therefore I want to give that gift away. Fruit is designed to give it away. It’s a gift that God has given to us. And so the desire of our heart is to give that way. And here’s the result to have fruit.

Fruit naturally will reproduce. Fruit will reproduce. The soil may be different where we are, but fruit will reproduce. Abiding fruit will reproduce. And so we should be able to look at our life and just ask ourselves, “What kind of fruit am I producing the hearts of others? And how has that seed, what does that see birthing in them?” A fruit will reproduce. When you think about the beauty of this passage, loving God, loving others.

I want you to see how Jesus does this here in verse 13 to 16, He repeats the same commandment in verse 17 again. But then in verse 13 to 16, He goes back to talk about Himself in this love. “Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down His life for His friends.” So that’s our example of how to love unconditional sacrificial for the benefit of another. “You are my friends. If you do what I command you,” verse 15, “No longer do I call you slaves for the slave does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends for all things 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 would go and bear fruit and that your fruit would remain so that whatever you ask of the Father in my name, He would give to you.”

I love this. And then He goes on and says that this commandment, “Command you, that you love one another.” He tells us the command in verse 12, He repeats the command in verse 17, but He wraps it. He wraps it and reminding us of His great love towards us. And that’s to say this, you want to know how to love well? Let Jesus love you well. Find your identity and who He is because here’s what’s going to happen. When you go into this world to “Love people.” If you’re not secure in your identity in Jesus already, what you’re going to end up doing when you look to people to love them as Jesus calls you to is for them to affirm you, to them to tell you where your meaning and value and worth is. But Jesus is saying “No, you’re able to love and live this way because you have found the greatest gift you’ve been given in Christ.”

He’s the one that’s lift you up. He’s the one that’s designed you for a purpose. He’s the one that’s created the space to let that fruit shine through you. It’s Jesus who is called you. It’s Jesus where you belong. It’s Jesus where you find your identity. You don’t need people to affirm that. It’s good to encourage one another, it certainly always is. But sometimes people don’t always have the right intentions in the way they encourage you. And sometimes people that call themselves your friends will tell you things that you shouldn’t be doing anyway. So finding Jesus is so important. And then I want to highlight this last thought and be done.

In verse seven, 12, and 17, He says this, that you love one another. And I think it’s good to just love people in general. Jesus wants us to love everyone in this world. But I think in this verse, Jesus also means more than that. Not just love everyone in general, but I think He means, and especially “Those that are pursuing me,” like in this room right now, disciples you guys together, I’m telling you love one another, love one another. And here’s why, because when you walk together in giving your love away, it strengthens you. It strengthens you for how God has called you in this world. And this vine is interconnected. One of the things I love about our church name, Alpine Bible Church, is you know anything about the Alpines and the Alpines are really the high mountains.

And in the Alpine, we have a particular tree that doesn’t grow until you get to a mile higher. At least it does better between a mile and two mile range. And it’s called the aspen trees. And something cool about the aspen trees. And give me a click, Caleb. Something cool that we discovered about the aspen trees. And I think it’s a fairly recent discovery is that they’re intertwined. They’re one organism. They’re interconnected. These trees can grow up individually, but what they do as they start to grow, is they find the roots of the other trees and they interconnect with each other. And the reason they do that is because when one tree is doing well, and one tree is doing poorly, they can pump strength into each other that they all survive. They live and grow as a unit, or maybe we should say they live in die as a unit.

But they depend on each other. And they use the fruit that God has given to them to bless each other. And I think that’s what Jesus is saying in this situation, especially in a hard moment. You know how you’re going to just bless this world? It’s because you’re also for each other. And the fruit of who you are is intended to be given way that God’s people can find strength to live for His glory in this world, and of your life, and of your life. You want it to matter. I mean, I think that’s why you’re here. You want your life to matter. And that question for us is, okay. So then if I want my life to matter, and I’m here seeking the Lord, what matters to God? What matters to Him? What answer? That you would abide. And in abiding in Him, your life would be lived for the purpose He created it, and you will bear fruit.