Sermon Snippet From Crawling to Climbing
Sermon on John 15:1-5
From Crawling to Climbing
June 21, 2020
When I read our passage this week – a passage I had read probably 100 times before, I was taken by Jesus’ words. Something wasn’t right. I chose these words from John 15 especially for Father’s Day because of the Father reference. But as I groped over the words I needed to go back to the original Greek and check the translation.
Listen with your hears to the Word of the Lord.
Jesus the True Vine
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit. 3You have already been cleansed by the word that I have spoken to you. 4Abide in me as I abide in you. Just as the branch cannot bear fruit by itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. 5I am the vine, you are the branches. Those who abide in me and I in them bear much fruit, because apart from me you can do nothing.
This is the part that caused me trouble. When Jesus says, ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.
Now I don’t have trouble with, ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower.
Nor do I have a problem with next week’s focus passage, Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.
No, instead my trouble is with what comes next, 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit.
I don’t like that… 2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. The thought of God removing, displacing, setting aside any one of us doesn’t coincide with all I know about our God.
So I dug a little deeper and I checked out the original Greek New Testament where we get these verses. and this is what I discovered. That word removes is the Greek word airai (Eye – Ray). I remember airai in Greek class. It was one of these verbs that didn’t follow any rules. I hated those irregular verbs. But what I was reminded when I saw that word, airai, is that it does mean, to remove, but it also means to lift up.
Now listen to those verses with this new information about airei. ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. 2He lifts up every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes to make it bear more fruit.
Remember how I said that grape vines do not naturally prefer to cling to the arbor, but rather they like to crawl in the ground and wrap around other trees. I think what Jesus is saying is this. I hear Jesus saying that God wants us to bear fruit. God wants us to produce The Fruits Of The Spirit. It tells us what some of these fruit are in Galatians; Love, joy, peace, patience, long suffering, self-control.
I hear Jesus saying if my people are struggling my Father, the vine grower will come alongside them in the presence of the Holy Spirit and pick him or her up. He lifts every branch in me that bears not fruit.
In fact, what Jesus says at the end of this previous chapter is this,
25 ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. 26But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
That word for the Holy Spirit, Advocate, is the Greek word Parakletos, which means The One Who Comes Alongside You. It is used for a defense lawyer, one who comes beside you to defend you in court – to lift you up and when you cannot stand, he will stand up for you.
‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower. 2He lifts every branch in me that bears no fruit.
Go back with me to the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain. At the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, Redmond had qualified for the semifinal of the 400m with the fastest time in his heat. He was looking strong when suddenly as he pulled up -- his hamstring had torn.
Rather than crumble to the ground, Redmond continued hobbling toward the finish line. Surprisingly, he didn't have to finish the race alone.
Redmond's father, Jim, ran from the stands and brushed off security to join his son. With tears in both of their eyes, the Redmond’s finished the race together.
Psalm 3:3 Praises God with these words, But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
Is that you? Crawling on the ground. Going through a difficult time. Isolated. Shut off. Zapped of energy. Discouraged. Defeated. I want to pray for you now.
Father, I ask that you come also side each person feeling that they are barely getting by. Crawling on the ground like a withering vine. You are the vine dresser, O God, as a vine is lifted up, supported, exposed to the light I pray that you would do that for each person crying out to you now, Father. And if that person is dry and withering, I pray that you will refresh and renew that person and help that person produce the fruit of the spirit; love, joy, peace, patience, self-control. And like the psalmist cries out, help them to claim the promises,
But you, LORD, are a shield around me, my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
In Jesus’ name. Amen!