I Am a Branch

I. By God’s grace

II. For God’s glory


John 15:1-8 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts

off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does

bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. 3 You are already

clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4 Remain in me, and I will

remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the

vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 5 “I am the vine;

you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear

much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not remain

in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches

are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and

my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing

yourselves to be my disciples.

In the name of Jesus Christ, the true vine, dear Christian friends,


Jesus was recorded by the Apostle John as saying it seven times: “I am...”

followed by an inanimate object or generic human term to describe himself and his work.

You may know all seven, one of which we heard last week: Good Shepherd, Gate for the

sheep, Resurrection and the Life, the Way/the Truth/the Life, Bread of life, Light of the

world and the one we have before us today, the Vine.


This is the only occasion when Jesus uses an “I AM” statement and then follows

up by specifically telling us who/what we are, describing us as branches. So, sounding a

little bit like those familiar children’s songs— “I’m a Little Teapot”, “I Am Jesus’ Little

Lamb” and “I Am a C-H-R-I-S-T-I-A-N”, I can confidently and gladly say, while also

teaching you to do the same, I AM A BRANCH I. By God’s grace II. For God’s glory.

It is the night of Jesus’ arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and the day before his

death on the cross of Calvary when he speaks these words to his eleven faithful disciples

(Judas having left them to betray Jesus). Jesus may have been walking past some vines

and chose to use this object lesson to drive home the points of this very important topic.

Jesus describes himself as the true vine. This is in opposition to the people of

Israel, Jesus’ own family line, which regularly was referred to in the Old Testament as a

vine (Ps 80, Is 5, Jr 2). Unlike Israel, which proved to be false due to its wickedness,

rebellion and sin, Jesus wanted his disciples to know he was true, real, genuine.

His Father the gardener had planted him on this earth to produce much fruit and

fruit that would last for all eternity. His disciples had seen this fruit with the feeding and

the healing Jesus did. They had heard this fruit as Jesus spoke about being kind and

loving toward one another.

But did they understand that there was nothing false in him? Did they realize

Jesus had never sinned in thought, word or deed? Did they know that Jesus would be

more than just a Master Teacher or just a wise Prophet? Did they comprehend that Jesus

was about to give his very own life for the forgiveness of every sin and for the salvation

of every human being? This was one more way for Jesus to bring the point home that he

was true, real, genuine.

By that same grace that sent Jesus to be our Savior, God connected you and me to

Jesus, as branches to a vine. Grace is the only reason I can say, “I am a branch!” Just

like branches do not decide to grow from vines, so we did not decide to be connected to

Jesus, as he tells us, you are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.

By water and the Word, God brought us into this relationship of branches to a

vine by which we receive the blessings of forgiveness and eternal life, as well as the

ability to produce fruit, that is, good works in our lives. By his Supper and Scriptures, he

remains in us so we can remain in him.

Do not take this connection for granted. Jesus says here that there are those who

are cut off and such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. He

probably was referring to Judas who had just left their fellowship minutes to hours

before. Certainly, there have been others.

Perhaps you know one of these people personally because there have been many

who left the fellowship here at Grace and from all we can tell on the outside have become

unbelievers and God has cut them off from his grace either on earth or eternally. Maybe

it was someone in your own family!

How will you avoid this happening to you or other loved ones of yours? Jesus

tells us! Remain connected to him! This involves your ongoing activity with the means

of God’s grace. Recall your baptism by which God poured out his grace to make you his

branch and to keep you as his branch as the blessings of baptism are ongoing in your life.

Receive communion by which God extends those same blessings of forgiveness-sharing,

faith-strengthening and future-home-in-heaven-sending. Read his Word at home, review

it with your family, rally around it at church so the Holy Spirit remains present in your

life and continues to keep you connected to Jesus.

So, Jesus teaches, remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear

fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you

remain in me.

Being connected to Jesus gives us the privilege to ask anything. If you remain in

me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you.

While it might seem that this is a free-for-all promise, in other places of Scripture we

know our request has to be in Jesus’ name and in keeping with his will, in other words,

our requests and petitions have to be for God’s glory.

Being connected to Jesus gives us the responsibility to produce fruit, again for

God’s glory. Jesus says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in

me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing...This

is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my

disciples.

What fruit— that is, good works— are you bearing in your life? How much of

them? Are they the right ones? Are they enough?

Those are tough questions for me to answer for you. Each person— each

branch— is different. Is God expecting white grapes or purple grapes from you? Is he

looking for a large cluster or a small one from you? When you attend Bible Class or

come in for counselling or strike up casual conversation, you might ask me what I would

do in a certain situation and I can offer you some advice and direction, but in most cases I

can’t tell you specifically what to do because your gifts and your circumstances are

different than mine.

I can, however, direct you to what God tells you. For example, bearing fruit

involves “getting rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along

with every form of malice, to be kind and compassionate, forgiving each other, just

as in Christ God forgave you” (Eph 4:31-32). How much? “As we have opportunity,

let us do good to all people” (Ga 6:10).

I can tell you that if you are not bearing such fruit or you are not bearing much

fruit that God might have some correction in store for you, as Jesus says, while every

branch that does bear fruit [God] prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. To

help branches bear fruit, pruning might be needed. If flowers do not open up and bloom,

sometimes you can take the outer petals off and then it will blossom.

This pruning might be painful, but it is with good purpose. Can the phrase “no

pain, no gain” be applied here? God might bring a disaster or chronic illness or other

hardship into your life as he did for the Apostle Paul with his “thorn in the flesh” (2 Co

12). God might bring a fellow Christian into your life to correct you and direct you away

from your sin and into a life that is pleasing to God. These things might be difficult to

endure, but God is using them to make sure you remain connected to the vine and are in

heaven with him for eternity.

I can tell you that bearing good fruit involves much! I can tell you that bearing

much fruit is good! I can tell you that I am a branch by God’s grace and for God’s glory.

As I hear your forgiving and encouraging words and as I look at your kind and

loving actions, I see fellow branches who are by God’s grace and for God’s glory

connected to the Vine, Jesus. So, remain in him and he will remain in you!



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