The sermon underlines the necessity of producing spiritual fruit for followers of Christ. It utilizes the biblical imagery from John 15:1-8 of Jesus as the "true vine," with his followers symbolized as the "branches." The fruits that Christians should bear are identified as love, obedience, and joy. The concept of Jesus's patience and enduring commitment to individuals is analyzed, as is the call for Christians to continually grow and mature spiritually. Listeners are encouraged to strive to keep a steadfast connection to their faith.
Well, I am grateful to have been here with all of you this morning. It is such a joy to be able to worship God with others who love Him and are excited about worshiping Him who have joy in their relationship with Christ. So thank you for your worship this morning. And now we turn ourselves to back to our Bibles and to our New Testament.
If you'll open up your Bible, please, and turn to Mark chapter 11. Mark chapter 11. Mark chapter 11, and we'll begin reading in verse 12 here in just a moment. Mark chapter 11 beginning in verse 12. Of all of the many and wonderful words that could be used to describe Jesus, who He is, who He was on this earth, I think patient might be one of the most appropriate.
You think about how patient Jesus was, and He was patient in the biblical senses. Jesus didn't give up. He endured many things, and He patiently went through the things that He had to go through in order to achieve at the end what it was His Father had in mind for Him. He was patient. He was patient in the sense that He was long suffering, that He didn't blow up, that He didn't get so frustrated that He lashed out at others.
No, He was patient in those moments, despite His frustration, despite the fact that probably, from our perspective, He would have been justified. And Jesus was patient, even in the modern sense of the word, that Jesus was willing to wait. And He was willing to wait with a good attitude. You think about the patience that he showed to so many throughout the gospels in his time on earth.
He was patient with his disciples. He was patient with their hardheadedness and hard heartedness. He was patient with their stubbornness and with their ignorance. He was patient when, when they just didn't get it because they were so focused on the physical. And here he was talking about spiritual things.
And time and time again, Jesus would say the same thing. He'd say them plainly. He'd say them in parables. He'd say them with vivid illustrations of things that he did with his own life and his own actions. He was patient in his teaching of his disciples. And even with the apostles, perhaps more so. These were the ones that were closest to him.
These were the ones that should have known because they heard all of his teaching. And yet time and again we find them not understanding, making the wrong application. And patiently Jesus would have to teach them again. We see his patience with sinners, don't we? Sinners would come to him, and he was so kind, and he was so loving, and he was so patient.
He, he didn't, he didn't think that they had to stay in their sin or they, they could stay in their sins, but he was patient to bring them to the truth so that they could come out of that sin. He was even patient with the scribes and Pharisees and the religious elite. Maybe we would say less so, because they definitely should have known better in their self righteousness.
But He was patient with them. But most of all, Jesus is patient with us. He's patient with me. And He's patient with you. Patient with our shortcomings. Patient with our lack of faith and lack of understanding. Patient with our weakness and our doubt. Even patient with our delaying our need to repent. When we know we should.
Jesus is patient. Jesus has been patient. Up to this very moment, He has been patient. And that's why the, the few passages like Mark chapter 11, beginning in verse 12, where it appears that Jesus has little patience, or at least His patient runs out, stand out to us so clearly. And yet in these moments there are things that we must learn.
We must learn about Jesus and His expectations for us and who we should be. Read with me beginning in Mark chapter 11 and verse 12. This is in the last week of Jesus life. Time is running out. Before he is to be crucified on a cross. And in his comings and goings between Bethany and Jerusalem over the course of this week, this is one of the things that happens, reading with me, beginning in verse 12.
Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, he, Jesus, was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree, having leaves, He went to see if perhaps he could find something on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves. For it was not the season for figs. In response, Jesus said to it, Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.
And his disciples heard him say it. Verses 15 through 19, Jesus patience has run out on another occasion as he cleanses the temple. But drop down to verse 20 and we pick up again with this idea of the fig tree. Verse 20, Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
And Peter... Remembering, said to him, Rabbi, look, the fig tree which you cursed has withered away. What gives? I mean, what's going on in this passage? Why did Jesus do this? Mark makes explicit what Matthew does not in his accounting of this event, that this was not the season for figs. Likely, Jesus was crucified in mid to early April.
And at that time, fig trees would have their leaves in full bloom, but it was unusual for figs to form on the tree itself for another month or even two. So why curse the tree for not having figs? When it's not the season for figs. I think what this does is it impresses upon us, impresses upon the apostles, but impresses upon us as well.
The need for us to bear fruit. And the need to start bearing fruit right away. What is the season for us to bear fruit? It's right now. Whenever now is, that is the season to bear fruit. And it reminds us of something that Jesus said earlier in John chapter 4 and verse 35 when He says to His apostles on that occasion, Do you not say there are still four months and then comes the harvest?
That's physically there's still four months away from the harvest at that time. But Jesus says, Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes. And look at the fields. They are already white for harvest. So physically it was not time to bear figs, but what Jesus is saying is spiritually, it is high time to bear fruit.
And you need to start bearing fruit right this very day. And the time is now for us. The opportunities are there. There is no time to wait. We must bear fruit. If you're visiting with us this morning, we're so grateful for your presence with us. And I'll let you know that over the course of this year, our congregational focus for Timberland Drive has been rooted and grounded.
And this quarter, we're focusing specifically on that idea of being rooted and grounded in order to bear fruit. And we are rooted and grounded in Christ, rooted and grounded in the faith, rooted and grounded in love. But ultimately, we're rooted and grounded in all of those things so that we might bear the fruit that God has called us.
And it is not a matter of becoming a Christian and just growing into fruit bearing someday. You know, there's still four months until the harvest. I've got plenty of time. You know, I'm a new Christian, or maybe I've been a Christian for a while, but there's plenty of time to bear fruit in the future. I will, I will do that at some point as I grow and as I mature later on in my life.
While it is true, That our fruit should increase and become sweeter from year to year as we grow, just as it does with a tree. As Christians, we are intended to start bearing fruit right away. And Jesus has little patience with those who are Christians who refuse to bear their intended fruit in service to Him.
Of all of the ways that Jesus is patient, in some ways this is the way He is the least patient. His yoke is easy. His burden is light. But Jesus is demanding in this way. We can and we must bear fruit, and bear fruit right away because... We are rooted and grounded in Christ, the true vine. And we see Jesus attitude toward this literally here in Mark.
The fig tree wasn't useful to Jesus purposes, and so he cursed it. But we see Jesus attitude toward this idea of usefulness and bearing fruit metaphorically in John chapter 15. And if you'll turn over there, that's where we will focus the rest of our time this morning. John chapter 15.
I'd like to examine this passage with the rest of our time this morning as we consider bearing fruit as branches of the vine, as branches of Jesus vine, as He is that true vine. Begin reading with me if you would, John chapter 15 beginning in verse 1, we'll read down through verse 8. Then make some comments there.
Jesus says, On the night he is to be betrayed, he says to his apostles, 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 bears fruit, he prunes that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean, because of the word which I have spoken to you.
Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, neither can you unless you abide in me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit. For without me, you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch.
and is withered, and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit, so you will be Mine. Jesus says that I am the vine and you are the branches.
And that is a vivid and powerful metaphor. But I think we must begin by identifying who is He talking about here? Who are these branches? Who is the you to whom Jesus is talking? Well, first and foremost, we know that on this occasion, he's talking to the Apostles. The Apostles minus Judas, who has already left on this occasion.
And we see that in a number of places in verses 15 and 16. He talks about them in these sorts of words. But in verse 27, that's really apparent. Notice what he says, chapter 15 and verse 27, And you also will bear witness because you have been with me from the beginning. All of this is addressed to his apostles.
But I don't think it's an abuse of the text to make application to us being further branches from them. That we, too, are branches that come from this vine. We, too, are disciples or followers of Jesus. And you think about passages like Ephesians chapter 2, verses 19 through 22, that progression is really clear, right?
Jesus tells His apostles and his apostles tell us so that we all might know and we all might do what God would have us to do. And even here in John chapter 15, that's what happened, right? Jesus, on that night, told John and the other apostles and then John wrote those things down so that we would read them, so that we would hear them, so that we would know them.
Many times, not every time, but many times when we see Jesus addressing something with his apostles, There is secondary application to be made to us, to all Christians, even those here today. But I think we, we can, we can not just surmise this, but we can see this idea through a couple of things that we find in the text of John 15 itself.
Notice a couple of statements with me. Jesus begins this chapter by saying, I am, not just divine, I am the true vine. The true vine. Well, what does the true vine imply? If there's a true vine, there's also a what? We might say an untrue vine. Jesus uses this same terminology of true earlier in the book. If you look in John chapter 6 and verse 32.
I think we see that it's not just a matter of true and untrue. It's a different sort of comparison. John chapter 6. The example that he uses here is manna. The manna that they had in the wilderness as they were wandering for 40 years. And Jesus said to them, Most assuredly I say to you, Moses did not give you the bread from heaven.
This is one of those not but constructions. Did Moses give them bread from heaven? Well, yeah, I mean, in a sense he did. He was the one who ultimately asked God for that and God gave them that manna, that bread from heaven. But he says Moses did not give you bread from heaven, but here's the comparison. My Father gives you the true bread from heaven.
There's a sense in which Moses gave you bread from heaven with manna. But I want you to know that the real bread from heaven is not that manna in the wilderness. What you receive from me. What you receive from my words, that is the true bread from heaven. And Jesus goes on to say, I am the bread of life, that is the true bread from heaven.
And so it's not really a comparison between true and false, but greater and lesser. What was the greater bread from heaven? The manna that Moses gave? Or the words and salvation that Jesus brought as the bread of life. We might say it's the imitation and the genuine article. It is the, the shadow and the reality.
Think about it this way. Let's, let's imagine, you know, your son's in college and he calls home and he's so excited because he's met that girl, you know. And, and, and he's dated lots of girls, maybe, over the course of time in high school and college and so on and so forth. And so he's talking about her and And he calls home and he tells his parents, and they say, Oh, great, you've met another girl.
He's like, yeah, I know there were other girls, but this one. This one is the real deal. Does that mean that he's dated fake girls up to that point? No. What he's saying is, this one is superior. This one, this one is far above. The others don't compare to this girl that I've found right now. And so too, when Jesus says, I am the true vine, just as he was the true bread compared to that physical bread in the Old Testament.
What he's saying is, I am the true vine compared to the shadow, the imitation, the lesser vine that we see in the Old Testament. So what was that imitation? Well, throughout the Old Testament, this image of a vine and branches and a vinedresser, the very imagery that Jesus uses in John chapter 15, is used of God and the people of Israel.
It's used positively in Psalm chapter the 80th Psalm, in verses 8 through 15, of God bringing them into the land and planting them in the land so that they might bear fruit. It's used negatively in Isaiah chapter 5, where they are in rebellion and they're bearing wild grapes instead of the good grapes that he planted them to bear.
And it's used, interestingly, in Isaiah chapter 27, verses 2 through 6, looking forward from Israel that there's going to be another vine someday, and this is going to be the vine that ultimately God had in mind all along. And that vine. It's what we see described here when Jesus says, I am the true vine and you, you Christians, you, you are the branches.
We are the relationship that God has been looking for all along with a people who choose to know Him and choose to love Him. And how close are we? How close can we be? He is the vine, and we are the branches. Another clue is found in this language that comes up over and over about abiding. At least five times Jesus uses this basic phrase, Abide in me, and I in you, to describe the relationship between the vine and the branches.
And yes, Jesus and his apostles were close like that, abiding with one another. But I want you to drop down to John chapter 17 and verse 20. On the same night, in John chapter 17, in verse 20, Jesus is praying for himself, he prays for his closest disciples, and then he prays for all believers. And notice the word that he uses, the words that he uses, in verses 20 and 21.
I do not pray for these alone, these apostles, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they all may be one. As you, Father, in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. We are one with Christ, the Father, the Apostles, and all other genuine Christians.
But if we are branches, then we have the same commandments, we have the same responsibilities, we have the same reality as the Apostles that Jesus addressed on that night. In this way. That we, like them, must all bear fruit. And he talks about this in two different ways. If you turn back there to John chapter 15, notice what he says in verse 2.
Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, what does he do? If it does not bear fruit, he takes away. It will be taken away if you do not bear fruit. It's going to be taken out of the vine. All of us must produce fruit in order to remain a part of the vine. And Jesus, again, has little patience for those who refuse to bear fruit, who have the capability of bearing fruit but refuse to do so.
And there are no exceptions to this reality. Notice He says every branch that does not bear fruit will be taken away. No exceptions, He says. Now, of the apostles, there was one that didn't bear the proper kind of fruit and that one was taken away. We know among the apostles that he's addressing, that was who?
That was Judas. Judas was taken away because he did not bear the proper fruit in his life. And, and Judas really was called to be an apostle. He was preaching the kingdom and the gospels. He was baptizing. He was working miracles. He had his feet washed by Jesus right along everybody else. But he is now turned away and become unfruitful.
And we too can fall away just like Judas did. Our hearts can become rocky or thorny. And for those who once knew the way of truth and have become entangled again in the world, the latter end is worse for us than the beginning. Peter says in 2 Peter chapter 2 in verse 20 and 21, the latter end is worse than the beginning.
It would have been better for them never to have known the way of truth than having known it to turn from it. And so this is how, maybe from a negative sort of vantage point, this is how important fruit bearing is. We don't bear fruit. The end result is that we're taken out of the vine, and we don't, no longer have that relationship with Jesus.
But, on the other hand, what does He say in verse 2? If we do bear fruit, well, then we will be pruned. Well, you said, oh, wait a second, I thought this was the positive one. Now you're talking about pruning? Well, what is the purpose of pruning? You prune things so that they might bear more fruit, and that's exactly what he says there at the end of verse 2.
Pruning is the process of improvement. It is refining, and sometimes that refining is painful in our lives. Again, there are no expectate exceptions to this. Every branch that bears fruit is going to be pruned by God, by the vine dresser. So how does God prune us? I think a lot of times we think about pruning and that sort of process, and we think, well, that's painful, so maybe that's tests, and that's trials, and that's suffering, and those sorts of things.
And that's true. That could be how we are pruned. But in the context, it's really something else. Are you there in John chapter 15? That word prunes there in verse 3, in verse 2, excuse me. is actually a word that means cleaned. The same word is cleaned. And it makes the flow of the text make a lot more sense because he says in verse 3, You are already clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
The way that we are pruned in the context here in John chapter 15, It's when our minds are renewed by the Word of God. When we read and study our Bibles, when we are consumed with God's Word and knowing what God's will is for us, so that it refines us more into who it is He's called us to be. And we are changed.
We are changed when we get God's words into us. When God's, Jesus words that were spoken get into us, we are pruned, we are refined, we are made clean and better. Isn't that what we're doing when we're pruning? We're cleaning the plant up so that then it can bear the fruit that it ought to bear. And that's what we have to do in our lives.
We, we hold the Word of God up to our lives and we say, What do I need to prune? What do I need to clean up in my life? So that I can bear the fruit that God has called me to bear. We're gonna bear fruit. He's gonna prune us. So that then we can bear more fruit for Him. And we are changed by the Word of God.
Sometimes painfully. It is painful to put off what we believed before, the way we've lived before. To live as God has called us to live. But we are changed more into what He would have us to be. Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Romans chapter 10 and verse 17. And as we read, and as we study, We clean out our thinking and our life and our actions to align with God's Word.
And sometimes that's painful, but we do it so that we might bear more. So what fruit do we bear as Christians? Well, if you were here at the beginning of October, we went through this list of seven things that we might bear. Somebody pointed at, out to me right after the lesson, Hey, there's another fruit that you missed.
We bear the fruit of repentance, absolutely. And you could come up with a big list of this, of these things that we're supposed to be doing, the fruit that we're supposed to be bearing as Christians. Holiness and righteousness and the fruit of the Spirit and the fruit of our lips, praise and thanksgiving to God, good works, sharing of material things, preaching the gospel, and our repentance.
All of these things are good fruits, fruits that we are supposed to bear as Christians. But I want us to turn our focus back to John chapter 15. What fruit must we bear from this chapter? What fruit must we bear if we are part of this vine as Jesus describes it? Well, keep reading with me, if you would, beginning in verse 9.
John chapter 15 and verse 9, down through verse 14. Right after, he says, You will bear much fruit and be my disciples. He says in verse 9, As the Father loved me, I also have 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 remain 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, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. Now, as we grow and as we become more mature, we, we bear all of these fruits to one degree or another, to one extent or another.
But what is it that we're supposed to bear right at the very beginning? You know, the first fruits. We read all about in our Bibles how the first fruits belong to God in the Old Testament. Those, that first harvest, that first time the tree produces, those things go to God. Well, what are the first fruits of us being made part of the vine?
As branches, I think we see three things right here in these verses 9 through 14. Love, obedience, and joy. Those three things must be born. That is the fruit of being branches of this tree. What fruit must we bear? Well, we first must bear love, and love is, of course, both something that we are rooted and grounded in, and the fruit that we must produce.
Notice just a couple of passages with me. 1 John chapter 4 and verse 7 shows clearly this relationship. We're rooted and grounded in love, so that ultimately we might produce the fruit of love. 1 John chapter 4, beginning in verse 7. Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God, and everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
He who does not love does not know God, for God is love. In this, the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation. The paid price for our sins.
Beloved, if God so loved us, we're rooted and grounded in that reality of God's love. We also ought to love one another. That is the natural fruit that comes from abiding in the vine of Jesus Christ and His love. God's love is the basis for our love. His love is made perfect when we love others in the same way.
To love as He loved, what awesome love that is. As He says back there in chapter 3 and verse 1 of John 1st John. Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us, that we should be called the children of God. It's unbelievable that I am made a child of God. I am grafted into the vine. So I am just as much a part as anybody else.
And we should see God's love, and as His children we should imitate that love. We, we love other people. Why? Because they're so lovable? Because everybody just acts right all the time? We love because we're like God. Because we're children of God. And that's a similar image 15.
Verses 5 through 6 and verse 8, this idea that we bear fruit because Christ bore fruit, because we are part of that vine. And how does bearing fruit show that we are Jesus disciple? Well, He bore much fruit, and now we are like Him. We bear fruit as well. But the only way to bear His fruit is if we are in Him.
We must abide in Christ, and Christ must abide in us. And when hatred and bitterness fill our heart instead of love, when, when selfishness and self centeredness fill our lives instead of surface to others, we are in danger of being taken away because we're not bearing the right fruit. Back in October, I talked about my pear tree way too much.
Maybe this is the last time, probably not. I cut this off of my pear tree. I did this months ago, actually, in fact. Set it aside. And you see on here that there are all these little buds all over this. So, give it a little while and this is going to bear fruit, right? Why not? Because it's no longer attached to the tree.
It no longer abides in the rest of the pear tree. And so there's buds, but it will not, and it cannot bear fruit. So too with us. If we are trying to manufacture fruit on our own without abiding in Jesus, we will never bear the fruit that He intended for us to bear. We don't know Him if we aren't in Him and know His love.
The kind of love that Jesus is talking about, the kind of love that lays down one's life for his friends, the kind of love that loves others, even the unlovable, as Christ loves us. It's only found in Jesus Christ. And it is only defined by Jesus Christ. We must bear this fruit of love. But we must also bear the fruit of obedience.
Love and commandment keeping must be tied together if we're going to be who God has called us to be. And this starts with becoming a Christian. We have to obey in order to be saved. Specifically, we have to obey the gospel. Obey what it is that, that Jesus has done for us. And maybe that sounds like weird terminology, but that's biblical terminology.
At least three times in our Bible we see that phrase that we have to obey the gospel, obey the good news. Notice just 2 Thessalonians chapter 1 with me. 2 Thessalonians chapter 1. Beginning in verse 6, it's talking about the suffering that the church in Thessalonica is going through and, and what Paul is reminding them is that God is a righteous judge.
And, and he's gonna judge even those who are oppressing them and persecuting them. Notice what he says in verse 6 chapter 1. Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay with tribulation those who trouble you. And to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels.
Verse 8. In flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel. of our Lord Jesus Christ. The gospel is not just good news that we have to become aware of. We have to obey it to be recipients of the good news that it brings. We are motivated by God's love for us and our love for Him to obey.
And this obedience, it's such a good first fruit, isn't it? You think about something simple, something simple that we all can do. Obedience is such a good first fruit because it is simple. That to the best of my knowledge, to the best of my abilities, I'm going to do what God tells me to do, and I'm not going to do what God tells me not to do.
And in that, I can show my love for Him. And I seek to grow in my knowledge, I seek to grow in my understanding, I seek to prune myself by the Word of God, or be pruned by the Word of God, I should say. So that I might know better what God wants me to do and what God doesn't want me to do. That's that pruning and that cleansing.
But ultimately my fruit is, I love God so I want to obey God. And it is so simple, it is so straightforward, and yet it has become so foreign to so many who are claiming to preach that very gospel that we are intended to obey. And where does this lead? Well, ultimately this should lead to the fruit of joy.
How many are seeking joy in this life, and maybe they don't even know it, but that's what they're seeking. They're seeking joy and satisfaction and peace. And this is the path to joy. The path to joy that lasts beyond the good times and into the difficult ones. This is the joy that is better and lasting and genuine and not dependent on outward circumstances like the happiness of the world.
A joy of such depth and meaning as to not be affected by those outward circumstances, good or bad. And what are the first two of the fruit of the Spirit listed in Galatians chapter 5 and verse 22? Love and joy. This is the first fruit that we produce as we come to Jesus, as we're made part of the vine as branches.
I've kind of alluded to this already, but I want to leave you with this. This question, and then an admonition from it. Here are our first fruits of being branches of Christ's vine. Which of these three is most often left out today? Now, I'm not talking about in times past. I'm not even talking in other places, necessarily.
But, but in America today, which of these three is most often left out when we think about fruit bearing? To me, and I think it's the middle one. I think it's obedience. We love God. Amen?
Wasn't much amen there. Don't do it because I ask you. Do it because you do. We love God. I love God with all of my heart, soul, mind, and strength. And we obey Him because we love Him. And we have joy because we obey. Many people don't like that, but that's the pattern that Jesus gives us right here in John chapter 15.
Remove the obedience, and it means you didn't love, and you won't have joy because you don't really dwell in Him, not as He desires. As those who are the branches of the vine, we love obedience and we find joy in it. How? Because of the love we have for the one that we are obeying. So are you willing, out of your love for God, to obey the gospel this morning?
Here is the fruit that you can bear right at the very beginning, right from the very start. The harvest can be now of love and obedience and joy. Where you can have joy inexpressible and full of glory. Because of God's love for you. If you're not yet a Christian, obey the gospel means that you must put off that old man of sin, bearing the fruit of repentance, coming in humble submission to Christ, confessing that He is Christ, that He is Lord of your life.
Going down into a watery grave of baptism, you can be saved by grace through faith, to rise to walk in newness of life. And if you're already a Christian, if you're already part of the vine, and you're not bearing this fruit in your life, if you're not bearing all three of these fruits in your life, You're in danger, my loved one.
You're in danger, beloved, of being taken away from the vine, where joy and hope and salvation is found. But, but Jesus has been patient, patient up to this point, for you to come and to know Him again. And if we can help you with that, even this morning, won't you come now, while together we stand and while we sing.