Mid-Week Advent Vespers
Pastor Gregory L. Jackson
Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Phoenix Time
The Hymn #554 by Gerhardt O Welt ich muss
The Order of Vespers p. 41
The Psalmody Psalm 95 p. 143
The Lection John 15:1-10
The Sermon Hymn # 64 O Jesu Christ, mein’s
Bearing the Fruit of the Spirit
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace p. 45
The Hymn #52 Old Hundredth
KJV John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.
Bearing the Fruit of the Spirit
This is one of the clearest passages about the Means of Grace.
The Gospel of John supplements what we know from Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The Fourth Gospel assumes we know the content of the other Gospels. There are surprising lapses that most people do not realize until these omissions are pointed out. For instance, the Baptism of Jesus and the Last Supper are not actually described. The passages certainly address the meaning of both, but the actual narrative is not given. Why? Because the audience already had good descriptions of both events.
John gives us what we would not have otherwise. He was known for being in Ephesus, which was once a great capital of the Christian faith. They lost their first love (Revelation) and fell prey to the Muslim invaders.
KJV Revelation 2:1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks; 2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: 3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name's sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted. 4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
So these “I AM” sermons or parables are exclusive to John’s Gospel and very significant as the words of Jesus Himself. If you look at a red letter edition of the Bible, there is relatively little red ink in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, but plenty of red ink in John’s Gospel. The sermons are supported by the historical narrative of the first three Gospels. John corrects the impression of a one-year ministry by showing that Jesus’ public ministry lasted three years.
“I AM” passages are significant because that is the Name of God in Exodus. Moses asked who was sending him. The Angel of the Lord (the pre-Incarnation Christ) said, “Tell them IAM sent you.”
So whenever we read or hear the words of the I AM passages in John, we are looking back at the time of Moses and the Exodus, the Burning Bush, the Pillar of Fire. The entire Old Testament is Christ-centered.
The opponents yelled, “We have Abraham for our father.” Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.” There He clearly identified Himself with the Angel of the Lord. There He called Himself God.
This passage in John emphasizes the Father-Son relationship but the Holy Spirit is not ignored. The divine effect of the Word is through the Holy Spirit, as we see throughout John’s Gospel. The Father-Son relationship in John 15:1-10 is explicit. The work of the Holy Spirit through the Word is implicit.
As far as I know, no one questioned the divine and immediate effect of the Word in those days. Anyone raised in Judaism knew that God’s Word was no different from His Will. It always produced results (Isaiah 55:1-10)
KJV Isaiah 55:1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness. 3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. 4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leader and commander to the people. 5 Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, and nations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the LORD thy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. 6 Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: 7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. 9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
The True Vine
John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
This is a very plain description of caring for grapes (or roses). Deadwood hurts a bush or vine. God has created these plants so that pruning deadwood makes them come alive and send out more roots. Amateurs do not like to prune, but experienced gardeners know that pruning brings life.
Deadwood is pruned away and destroyed, because old plant material harbors disease. Productive branches are also pruned, to make them even more fruitful.
Plants flower and fruit. They fruit and set seed, bringing them to a more dormant state. If a productive plant is pruned, it will bear even more fruit.
When we grew edible pod peas, we had more and more as we picked them. The vines loved being picked, so they produced peas until we could not stand to think about them.
3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
The productive pruning Jesus addresses is absolution. When we hear the Law and Gospel, we realize our sinful state and our need for the Savior. Christ brings Himself to us through the Word and Sacrament. That produces the fruits of the Spirit.
KJV Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.
These two verses answer the question everyone asks – How can we enjoy these promised blessings?
There is no program, nothing new, nothing required as a virtue or strength in man.
The Means of Grace will accomplish everything. The old motto is still true – “Apply yourself to the Word, and the Word to yourself.”
Notice the divine promise – He who abides in Me and I in him, he will be very fruitful. (My translation) There is even a Promise within the Promise. When we abide in Christ through the Word, He abides in us. The verb means literally – remains in us, stays with us. How can we be unchanged when Jesus stays with us?
The warning is also there – Without Me you can do nothing. We can do everything with Him (according to His purpose) and nothing without Him.
That makes the program clear.
Lenski said, many decades ago – Fads come and go. The Church is built only upon the Word of God.
When fads take away the Word, and place an emphasis on man, the individual is removed from the True Vine.
I can tell that from the mocking, sarcastic, and obscene comments I get on the blog (mostly blocked) about the Means of Grace. There the Word is having an effect – in hardening hearts. But since they keep coming back, some may be converted by the Word.
Results of Shunning the Word
6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.
I have said before, I have seen many people shipwreck themselves by abandoning the Word. Here is a clear presentation on eternal punishment for those who abandon the Word. Repentance is possible at any time before death. God will rush to welcome the Prodigal Son. As long as we live, it is never too late to have true sorrow for sin and faith in the Gospel Promises.
Even More Promises
7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
Here is the great Promise I mentioned on Sunday. After building our faith with Gospel Promises, Jesus also declares God will answer prayers. This is the clearest and best motivation to pray. Being fruitful in the faith glorifies God the Father.
Wednesday, December 3, 2008
Posted by Gregory Jackson at 4:15 PM