- Sermon Notes
The Joy of Bearing Fruit
As we turn to John chapter 15, we find Jesus with His disciples after they’ve enjoyed the Passover Supper together. He has been giving them some of His last words. He’s preparing them for His departure, but also preparing them to bear the fruit of God in their lives.
Earlier, in chapter 13 and 14, we read some of the most powerful words Jesus ever spoke to His disciples. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you… Let not your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me… I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.… If you love Me, you will keep My commandments… Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you;… Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.”
Then in chapter 15, Jesus teaches them about the fruit God desires in their lives and He also tells them how to bear much fruit. Finally, He tells them the result of bearing fruit is fullness of joy. These are words we need to understand as well.
One thing that we must see in this chapter is that God is serious about fruit in our lives. He’s serious about wanting to transform your life, your heart, and your character.
In this chapter also Jesus speaks about keeping His commandments. Many people don’t like the word commandments because it sounds so command like. They prefer that God give suggestions or recommendations. Know why? It has everything to do with who’s on the throne of your life. A King gives commandments; a servant gives suggestions.
If I’m the captain and commander of my own life, God is most certainly welcome to give His suggestions and I’ll take that into advisement. But if He’s the captain and commander, then His words are certainly more than recommendations.
This is the turning point in many people’s lives. Jesus said no man can serve two masters. In another place He said, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ if you don’t do what I say?”
God is serious about fruit in our lives. There are many places in scripture where God reminds us of this. You are like a tree planted by streams of water, or you’re like the good soil that receive God’s word like a seed of wheat to bear fruit, 30, 60, 100 fold; or you’re like a fig tree that is planted for the purpose of producing figs; or, as in John 15, you’re like the grapevine that is expected to bring forth beautiful and tasty grapes.
Some people are spiritually healthy and vibrant with healthy green leaves with much fruit in their lives. Others have some leaves and are growing and on their way to bearing fruit. Others are sickly, there’s disease on some leaves; there are dead branches. Their leaves are withered and there’s no fruit, or if there is fruit, it’s sour grapes.
Jesus begins the chapter by explaining that He is the true vine and His Father is the vine dresser. We are the branches attached to the vine from which the grapes would bear fruit.
The vinedresser is the husbandman, the owner of the vineyard, master of the estate. In other words, God is in charge. He planted a vineyard so that it would bring forth grapes. Fig trees are planted to bring forth figs. He tills the ground, takes out the weeds, He prunes and trims and works the plant so that it fulfills the purpose for which it was planted.
Illus - When I was growing up there were some massive overgrown bushes in the backyard. I was shocked to find out they were hazelnut trees. The problem was that they were allowed to grow wild, without a husbandman trimming and pruning them and so they were a waste.
I. Expect to be Pruned
- After explaining that His Father is the vinedresser, He says some very powerful words. “Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit.”
- There are two parts of that verse and it’s important to look at each one of them.
- In verse 6 Jesus explains further, “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.”
- God gave you life for a purpose and He expects us to use that life for His glory. We are made in His image and it is His breath that fills our lungs.
- Jesus describes a branch that appears to be attached to the vine but doesn’t receive anything from the vine so it withers and becomes dead.
- In another place, Jesus used another illustration that’s helpful. He said that our lives are like soil on which the Word of God is sown.
- Some seed fell on the hard path where the birds snatched it up. That’s the person with a hard heart that can’t receive anything from God.
- Other seed fell on rocky soil where the soil was not deep. It bears and sprouts, but the heat of the day scorches it and it dies. These are the ones who at first receive the Word of God with joy, but it was only temporary, as soon as anything difficult comes their good intention is immediately shipwrecked.
- Other seed fell among the thorns. These are those who hear, but as they go their way their confession of faith is choked by the worries and riches and pleasures of this life.
- In other words, what a waste.
Illus - I found a bag of chips once that tasted horrible, only to find that it was far past its expiration date. What a waste.
Illus - My father turned his life around at 75 years old only after he realized that he had wasted almost all his life.
- God said something similar to Israel in Isaiah 5. He planted a vineyard, removed its stones, dug it all around; He expected it to produce good grapes, but it produce only worthless ones.
Isaiah 5:4, “What more was there to do for My vineyard that I have not done in it? Why, when I expected it to produce good grapes did it produce worthless ones?”
Illus – There was another parable Jesus told about a man who had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. He said to his servant, “For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?” But the servant answered and said, “Let it alone, sir, for this year also, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; if it does not bear fruit next year, then cut it down.”
- What more can God do? He can add fertilizer. Do you know what fertilizer is? Though it stinks, it’s good.
- Jesus went on to say that every branch that does bear fruit, God prunes, that it may bear more fruit.
- Any farmer will tell you that pruning is an essential part of the process of bearing fruit.
- Pruning cuts things away; it separates anything sickly or dead or diseased. It also cuts away and separates anything we might call “suckers” that are taking the nutrients meant to help you.
- The idea of cutting out or separating is powerful. The word “holiness” has the root meaning, “be separate.”
2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 Come away and be separate
1 Corinthians 15:33, Do not be deceived; “Bad company corrupts good morals.”
Illus - Someone might say, “Do you mean that God might cut out a relationship in my life?” Yes, but if He does, He’s doing it to bless your life.
- The vinedresser is good, He knows what needs to be trimmed and directs the growth. He is wise. His plan is far better than your own.
Proverbs 3:5-6, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Illus - Sometimes he trims a little at a time. For me, it was my music. Other times, it’s something bigger, like friends that are poisoning your soul. Other times, it’s something big. For me, it meant resigning as president of the fraternity and moving out. For someone else it might be videogames, or the Internet.
C. He subtracts in order to add
- God never prunes or trims just to take something away. Cutting away always has a goal. If He take something away, it’s because He has something for you that’s better.
- It’s as though God were saying, “Let Me take out the bad and I’ll replace it with good. I’ll take out that root of bitterness and replace it with a heart of forgiveness. I’ll take out hatred and I’ll replace it with love. I’ll take out fear and I’ll replace it with faith. I’ll take out anxiety and I’ll replace it with peace.”
Ephesians 4:22, Lay aside the old self… and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth.
- Verse 3, you are already clean because of the word, but there can be better growth, more faith, more grace, more kindness, more love, and more joy.
- Pruning may hurt at the moment, but if you trust Him, He’ll bring about that which is good.
II. Abiding is the Key to Bearing Fruit
- In verse 4 and 7, Jesus gives another commandment; “Abide in Me.” That’s the key.
- The branch has to abide on the vine in order to produce fruit because of what it receives. It needs the sap, the life, the strength, the power.
A. He pours, you drink
- Many times Jesus said, “Him who has ears to hear, let him hear.” You have to open your ears, you have to open your heart.
- In verse 7 Jesus said to let His words abide in you. In verse 9 Jesus said to let His love abide in you.
John 8:31, Jesus was saying, “If you continue in My Word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”
John 7:37-38, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink… From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.”
Illus - An illustration of that might be an extension cord. It’s made for a purpose, not to be used as a rope to tie your Christmas tree to your car, its purpose is that power might flow through it.
- But you have to abide. You make the decision to abide or to disconnect from the vine. But how foolish to think that you can have life apart from the author of life. “I in the way, the truth, and the life.
- Verse 5, “He who abides in Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from Me you can do nothing.”
- Somebody might say, “I don’t need God, I don’t need Him telling me what to do, I’ll figure this out on my own.” Unless you abide on the vine, you have no life, and will wither and die. He actually has a strong word to say next, “Join the rest of the firewood.”
- Verse 11 is key, “These things I have spoken that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.”
- To abide on the vine, to bear much fruit, to abide in God’s love, this is joy to the full.
- The fruit of the Spirit is a much more joyful way to live than the yuckiness of the world. What a blessing to be a blessing.
Illus - If you’ve ever brought groceries to someone anonymously, or encouraged someone, or help someone, you know the joy of the Lord.
- You have access to God, enjoy the gift.
John 15:1-11 NASB
1 "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 bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. 5 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. 6 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. 7 If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. 9 Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also 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 so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full.