I Am The True (Resurrected) Vine – Part 3

John 15:1-11 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. 2 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. 3 Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. 4 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. 5 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. 6 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. 7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples. 9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. 10 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. 11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.


While Christmas gets more cultural hype, and while Easter isn’t possible without Christmas, Easter is the pinnacle of the Church calendar. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (and the fact that we can join Him in it, by grace, through faith) is the good news and great promise and ultimate hope of all mankind. Whatever else Christianity is, it is rooted in the reality that Jesus defeated death by actually, physically rising from the dead.

As always, in considering the best way to go about helping all of us rightly recognize and respond to that, see and celebrate it, in the context of a sermon, I was faced with the question of whether to continue in John’ Gospel (with the third part of a sermon, nonetheless) or do a stand-alone Easter message. The more I thought about it, the easier the decision became. Our passage is essentially a description of resurrection blessings. That is, John 15:1-11 names many of the gracious gifts of God that were purchased by Jesus with His death and resurrection. And those gifts eternally belong to all who believe in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

The big idea of this passage is that the Christian life is about abiding in Jesus in such a way that His mind, heart, and actions flow freely out of us, and all according to the superintending grace and unlimited blessings of God, all of which flow freely out of all that Jesus accomplished in His life, death, and resurrection.

I’m hopeful that on this Easter Sunday, the Holy Spirit would be pleased to help all of us grasp the truth that abiding in Jesus is what all of us were made for. It is God’s command to us and our duty to Him. At the same time, it is the only place of true fulfillment and joy and it is the greatest reward.

Indeed, and I really invite you to consider this, everything everyone does in life (everything you do in life) is done in an attempt to get what abiding in Jesus offers and alone can give. Every good and bad pursuit in your life, whether you know it or not, is aimed at that which nothing but abiding in Jesus can provide. Lots of things in life promise the love, joy, peace, belonging, acceptance, purpose, healing, redemption, significance, victory, and satisfaction you were made for and long for, but only abiding in Jesus can truly deliver those things.

If you are a Christian, it’s because you have come to recognize that abiding in Jesus is what you were made for, but also that it is not what you wanted, definitely not what you deserved, and that it was completely out of your power to achieve. That is, to be a Christian is to recognize that you had rejected Jesus, that you have sinned against Him, that you had chosen to abide in things other than Jesus, and that (as v.6 says) the result was that you were destined to be thrown into the fire and burned.

But Easter is the good news that that’s not the end of the story, that it doesn’t have to be that way. It is the good news that Jesus made a way for us to be rescued from our sin and reconciled to God. Easter is the good news that Jesus willingly gave His life on the cross as a ransom for sin and then rose from the dead in order that we might abide in Him.

It is my earnest prayer that the Holy Spirit would be pleased to use this sermon to cause everyone to either come to, or come to a greater depth of, belief in, amazement at, and whole-life orientation toward the resurrection; and therein receive the limitless blessings that flow from that. Let’s pray that God would make it so; and more still.


Once again, if you’re just joining us, you should know that over the last two weeks, we’ve already considered the first four verses of this passage. In them we saw that God the Father is vinedresser, Jesus is the true vine, and people are the branches. In addition, we considered five of fourteen blessed promises that will come to branches that are connected to the vine.

In simplest terms, regarding the Father as vinedresser, the key idea is that God graciously superintends our spiritual lives from beginning to end in perfect wisdom, power, and goodness, blessing those who believe in Jesus. Regarding Jesus as the true vine, it is through Him, through abiding in Him, that all spiritual life and fruit and blessing comes. And regarding God’s people as branches, we saw that our primary responsibility, perfect hope, and great blessing is to come to and remain in Jesus through faith.

For all who do, for all who remain in the resurrected Jesus in faith, John 15:1-11 tells us that God will poor out blessing upon blessing on us. So far, we’ve seen that He will bless us by protecting us from those who would do us harm, by giving us His Word, by washing us clean of our sin, by pruning away our sinfulness to make us more like Jesus, and by empowering us to abide in Jesus.

As I mentioned a few moments ago, this is what you and I and all mankind were made for. And Easter Sunday is proof that Jesus’ offer and charge in this passage are real and that it is right to trust Him for these things. It is proof that if we do, we will receive all the blessings (and more) that Jesus promises. And it is the reason we can receive God’s grace instead of being burned in the fire.


With all of that, let’s turn our attention to v.5 and back to the nature of and resurrection blessings that come from being united to Jesus. Again, for those of you who are trusting in Jesus, these blessings are yours. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to help you live more fully in light of them. And for those of you who are not hoping in Jesus, know that God is offering these things to you (and much more), right now, if you will turn to Jesus in faith.

  1. Fruitless branches are cut off (2, 6).
  2. Fruitful branches are pruned for greater fruitfulness (2).
  3. All who are in Jesus have received the living, revealing, empowering Word of Jesus (3).
  4. All who are in Jesus have been made clean by the Word of Jesus (3).
  5. True followers of Jesus abide in Jesus, and Jesus abides in us (4).

And now…

  1. By abiding in Jesus, we can bear good fruit (4).

    One of the central questions of our day is whether mankind is essentially good or essentially bad. Have you thought much about that? Are we, as many in the world today claim, good by nature and only corrupted by corrupted relationships, societies, and institutions? Or are we, as the Bible teaches over and over and over, fallen in nature, which is what leads to the corrupted relationships, societies, and institutions all around us?

    In John 15:4, Jesus definitively answers that question.

    “…As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.”

    If I had a healthy-looking branch from an apple tree in my hand, perhaps one with blossoms already on it, how long would I have to stand here holding it before I could reasonably expect it to produce an apple? Kids, what do you think? How long? Of course, no amount of time would suffice. Branches of apple trees cannot bear apples unless they are connected to an apple tree, for that is where their life and nourishment come from.

    In the same way, apart from being united to Jesus and actively abiding in Him, nothing good can come out of us. We may have the appearance of health and good fruit for a while, but eventually, if we remain disconnected from Jesus, the vine, the source of our life and nourishment, the reality of our death and good-fruitlessness will become clear.

    “But wait,” you might be thinking, “I know lots of people who are not Christians who do all kinds of nice things.”

    I remember a story my parents told me about a time when they were first married. They found themselves in a position where they weren’t sure how they were going to buy groceries. They came home one day to find a bag of food in the refrigerator with a bit of cash to buy more. It was left there by someone who would not have claimed to have done it as a result of abiding in Jesus.

    That sounds like something good, doesn’t it?

    When the Bible speaks of our natures as being essentially corrupted, when Jesus says that no good fruit can come from anyone who is not trusting in Him, what does that mean, then? It doesn’t mean that everyone is as bad as they could possibly be. It does mean, however, that everyone has sinned and our sin is such that it corrupts everything good in us, which means that nothing truly good can flow from us.

    Jesus’ teaching on this was an echo of King David’s words in Psalm 51:5, “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.” And it was echoed in Paul’s words in Romans 3:10-12, “as it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; 11 no one understands; no one seeks for God. 12 All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.'” Jesus said the same thing to a man who was confused about the nature of genuine goodness, “No one is good except God alone” (Mark 10:18).

    In other words, because we are all sinful by nature and choice, whatever fruit comes out of us, whatever it looks like and however closely it resembles the good fruit of Jesus, if it is not the result of being united to Jesus, it is not truly good fruit. It is only when we are connected to something truly good, that goodness can be in us and flow out of us.

    Where, then, is the blessing in all of this? The blessing is in the fact that what we were powerless to do on our own (bear good fruit; do genuinely good things; ultimately, please God and help the world) is made possible through Jesus. His goodness can, indeed it will, flow through us when we are united to Him and abide in Him in faith.

    No one who is disconnected from Jesus can bear good fruit, for He alone is good. But on the flip side, everyone who is connected to Jesus will bear good fruit. If you are a Christian and you are abiding in Jesus, truly good things—things that really do honor God and really are blessings to the world—will come out of you. That’s one of the blessings of God that comes through Jesus and was made possible by His resurrection from the dead.
  2. Those who abide in Jesus will bear much good fruit (5).

    Jesus is the vine, the source of life and nourishment and fruit. Those who trust in Him are the branches, the primary means through which God’s blessings flow. We just saw that none who are disconnected from Jesus can bear good fruit and that all who are connected to Jesus will bear good fruit. V.5 expands on that previous blessing. Not only will those who are connected to Jesus bear good fruit, but in addition, “Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit…”.

    Abiding in Jesus not only effects the quality of the fruit that we will bear (good rather than bad), it also effects the quantity (much rather than little).

    As we saw before, this blessing is two-fold. First, it is a statement of fact. If you abide in Jesus, you will bear much, good fruit. That’s the nature of being connected to Jesus. He is a good vine that produces sufficient nourishment to bear a sufficient amount of good fruit to fill the whole world. And again, He does that largely through those who trust in Him. He fills the world with love, beauty, food, truth, hope, creativity, order, friendship, etc. through those who hope in Him. It is that way.

    But second, bearing much, good fruit is what those who abide in Jesus increasingly strive for. It is what Jesus does through us and it is what we work really hard at. Bearing much good fruit, is a promise and a series of commands. It is part of the transforming work of God in us and it is something we press hard into.

    Those who are abiding in Jesus will increasingly bear much, good fruit of orphan care. Jesus will give us growing love for the fatherless and an eagerness to bring them into our homes and support those who do. And we will increasingly, sacrificially choose to work with TFG, foster care, and adopt, even though it is uncomfortable, inconvenient, expensive, and overwhelming at times.

    Those who are abiding in Jesus will increasingly bear much, good fruit of forgiving others as Jesus forgives you (freely, repeatedly, undeservedly, thoroughly). Jesus will give all who are connected to Him an eagerness to forgive and forgive and forgive. And we will fight to forgive when it is hard because the person just keeps sinning in the same way, they aren’t as sorry as they should be, and it just feels right to keep at least a little bit of negative in their account.

    Those who are abiding in Jesus will increasingly bear much, good fruit of naturally and joyfully telling the truth, sharing the gospel, memorizing God’s Word, caring for the poor, speaking words of encouragement, experiencing swift conviction of sin. It will increasingly become who we are…and it will increasingly be what we work hard at. These things will sometimes be what we strive for even before they are our greatest desire.

    Bearing much good fruit is a blessing in that, in God’s strength and according to His sanctifying work, we will increasingly love to do so. And bearing much good fruit is also a blessing in that in God’s strength and according to His sanctifying work, we will exercise self-control and discipline, choosing that which is hard and inconvenient and uncomfortable, because we live by faith in the Word of God.

    So, Grace, if you abide in Jesus, you are receiving and will receive the blessing of bearing much, good fruit. Therefore, determine to bear much good fruit in the strength God provides. Work hard at bearing much, good fruit. Strive for it. Press into it. Repent when you don’t. And know that it will happen because Jesus is risen from the dead.
  3. Apart from Jesus we can do nothing (5).

    The eighth and final resurrection-won blessing that we’ll consider from this passage today is found at the end of v.5. There we read Jesus’ words, “…apart from me you can do nothing.” Not only can we not do any good works apart from being united to and abiding in Jesus, we can do nothing at all apart from Him.

    That means exactly what it sounds like it means. Nothing means nothing. No seeing, no hearing, no talking, no listening, no eating, no sleeping, no golfing, no running, no thinking, no hugging, no videogaming, no vacationing, no nothing.

    Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is the means by which we can be saved and do good works, but it is also the means by which we can do anything at all. Indeed, it was no metaphor or exaggeration when Paul proclaimed that in Jesus “we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28) or when the author of Hebrews wrote that “[Jesus] holds the universe by the word of His power” (Hebrews 1:3).

    Take a breath. You were able to do that, to fill your lungs with life-sustaining air (and not already be in hell) because of Jesus’ resurrection grace.

    Take a sniff. You were able to catch a whiff of the remnants of breakfast because of Jesus’ resurrection.

    Give a thankful thumbs up to the Dahls and the breakfast team or Andrew and the worship team. You were able to experience genuine appreciation and lift your arm for no other reason than Jesus’ resurrection grace.

    Look at the person next to you. You were able to turn your head and see with your eyes and interpret with your brain because of Jesus’ resurrection.

    Apart from Jesus you can do nothing, which also means that everything you do is in Jesus. And that, because God determined before time to be patient with a sinful people because He would send Jesus to die and rise from the dead to save sinners.

    Easter is why we can do anything, for it is the only reason we are not in hell and the only means by which we can be united with Jesus’ life and power and goodness. What blessings those are for all who hope in Jesus. What reasons they are to celebrate.


I want to conclude by shifting gears just a bit. I want to invite you to consider three things in closing: 1) What’s at stake in rejecting Jesus as the risen savior and king, 2) The nature of trusting in Him as such, and 3) The ultimate result of doing so.

What’s at stake in rejecting Jesus is that you will remain spiritually dead in your trespasses and sins. Like so many who were with Jesus during His time on earth, you will remain blind to the glory of God in the face of Jesus. You remain unable to bear good fruit. And, ultimately, once again, you will eventually be thrown into the fire of everlasting destruction. That is the certain end for everyone apart from Jesus, but you need not remain apart from Jesus. That’s the good news of Easter.

To understand the nature of trusting in Jesus as the risen savior and king, consider the criminals who were crucified next to Jesus. Can you imagine a worse day than one in which you found yourself hanging on a cross? If you were come up with the absolute worst possible day, it would likely involve being crucified. That’s where the criminals of Luke 23 found themselves.

32 Two others, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him… 39 One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” 40 But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? 41 And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” 42 And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

The first criminal is a picture of us all apart from Jesus. His crucifixion was a fitting end to His sin. The second criminal, however, is a picture of the grace of God. His crucifixion was the greatest thing that ever happened to Him, for it is what allowed Him to hear the words of Jesus, be cleansed and united to Jesus, and to receive the blessings of Jesus. Having tasted the sweet blessings of Jesus, he would choose to be crucified a thousand times rather than remain separated from Jesus for another minute. That’s the nature of trusting in Jesus.

Finally, consider with me ultimate end for those who trust in Jesus as the risen savior and king. Jesus tells us the end at the end of this passage, “11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” To receive Jesus as the risen savior and king is to abide in Him and to abide in Him is to know fullness of joy; fullness in that it is without measure or end.

But what does that mean? It means that at the exact moment in which we come to place our faith in Jesus, we share in His resurrection by having our sin-killed souls, rise from the dead. In that, the Holy Spirit will bear the firstfruits of joy in us at the certain knowledge of our salvation. And ultimately, it means that one day, when Jesus returns, though our bodies lay in the grave, they too will rise from the dead, they will be reunited with our resurrected souls, and we will live with Jesus in resurrection glory and fullness of joy forever and ever. That’s what Easter is really about. That’s the greatest news and highest blessing for all who accept Jesus offer to graciously unite us to His resurrection goodness and life and joy.

He is risen!