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Fifth Sunday of Easter

April 29, 2018 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Easter

Passage: John 15:1–15:8

†††In the Name of Jesus†††

Pastor Murray Keith

Text: John 15:1-8

Date: April 29th, 2018; Easter 5; Series B

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

“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” (John 15:6)

  • That is some very strong language that we heard in our Gospel lesson this morning.
  • We are not used to hearing strong language like this.  
  • These are not politically correct words.  They are not soft and gentle.  
  • They do not tip-toe around your feelings or your personal beliefs.  
  • When Jesus spoke these words he was not at all concerned over how they might affect his popularity.  
  • In fact, he knew very well that saying these words, claiming them to be the truth, would get him killed.
  • But out of his love for humanity, out of his love for you, he boldly spoke them anyway.
  • “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” (John 15:6). 
  • If you do not abide in the Christ, if you do not remain connected to him, if you separate yourself from the Son of God – then you are going to wither away and die.  
  • Now and eternally.  
  • This was an extremely controversial thing for Jesus to say back in his day and it continues to be controversial today.
  • Some people will respond that Jesus is only one of many paths that will lead us to heaven.
  • Some will respond that this is ignorant, and hateful, and closed-minded.
  • But, our Lord clearly tells it like it is.  
  • “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
  • There is no other way.  There is no other path.  There is only Christ.  
  • God has forgiven us for our all of sin, reconciled us to himself, and has promised us eternal life - only through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ Jesus.
  • “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” (John 15:6). 
  • Jesus speaks these controversial words out of his love for us and so that the truth may set us free.
  • He speaks these words with such force that you may abide in him for life everlasting.
  • He speaks these controversial words so that you understand the seriousness of sin, the seriousness of the deceptions of the devil, the world, and your own sinful flesh.
  • These evil forces do not want you to abide in Jesus eternally.  
  • They want to cause great separation between you and God.  They want you to abide in yourself, in your sinful desires, in evil.
  • And how deceptive, subtle, and threatening are these evil forces that try to separate us from God.
  • Before we know it - God and his church are set aside and we focus on ourselves and the things of this world.  
  • Before we know it - God is not first in our lives.  
  • In fact, he ends up somewhere way down on the list.  If he even remains on the list at all.
  • Before we know it - God’s Word is not the standard for what is right or wrong, but our culture is or our personal opinions.  
  • Sin becomes normalized and we become comfortable living our lives the way we want – not the way God wants.  
  • This can lead to being separated from God like a branch separated from a vine, withering away in death and despair.
  • Jesus boldly warns us of the consequences of being cut off from him, the Vine.  
  • He doesn’t tip-toe around, or concern himself with political correctness, or try to make his warning more palatable with soft words. 
  • Just as a branch withers and dies when it is cut off from the vine, so we will wither and die cut off from our Saviour.  
  • But, dear friends in Christ - our Lord also boldly, clearly, and plainly reveals to us the life and blessings we have as we do abide in him.
  • The Good News is that when the branches are in union with the Vine, the branches live.  
  • The branches live to the fullest.  The branches flourish!
  • By God’s love, mercy, and grace we have been restored to God through the blood of his Son shed on the cross for the sin of the world.
  • In Christ we have been grafted back into the true Vine.  
  • The life that flows from the crucified and resurrected Christ now nourishes us that, by faith, we might live in union with him.
  • This grafting back into the true Vine happened when we were baptized.  
  • Through the Sacrament of Holy Baptism, God takes all of us dead, dried up, and withered branches and attaches us to the life-giving, life-nourishing, life-sustaining Vine.
  • Connected to the Vine, he nourishes us with his Word and his true body and true blood in the Sacrament of the Altar.
  • Jesus, the true Vine, nourishes us with everything we need to abide in him - forever.
  • This nourishment gives us a strong and living faith.  
  • It keeps us strong in our trust that no matter who we are, where we have been, what we have done or not done - God loves us, forgives us, and promises us eternal life.  
  • This is Good News that we constantly need to be nourished with.
  • It keeps us strong in our trust that no matter what we face in this life (illnesses and injuries, loneliness, troubled relationships - even death itself), we have strength and eternal life in the Vine.  
  • The Vine nourishes us and we branches bear much fruit as a result.  
  • We bear the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control – all the fruits of the Spirit.
  • We bear fruit for those God has placed in our lives (our families and friends, co-workers, everyone we meet and come into contact with in our daily lives).
  • “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (1 John 4:1-11).
  • We naturally bear this fruit when we are connected to the Vine.  It is who we are and it is what we do.
  • Just as you can’t threaten to punish, or promise to reward, or guilt a branch into producing fruit – so it is with us.  
  • Connected to the vine we simply do it!
  • Christ is the Vine; we are the branches.  
  • United to the Vine we have an abundant and never-ending source of life.  How blessed we are!  Amen.


The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

More in Easter

May 13, 2018

Seventh Sunday of Easter

May 6, 2018

Sixth Sunday of Easter

April 22, 2018

Fourth Sunday of Easter