Sermon 9 May 2021


Acts 10:44- end, Psalm 95, John 15:9-17, Sermon Revd Tudor Vaughan Roberts May 9th, 2021 Sixth Sunday of Easter.

What annoys you? It really annoys me that people steal Britain’s amazing aluminium motorway signs. Despite Satnav most of us are reassured when we physically see before our eyes a sign saying Swindon Exit or M4 The West this way. Road signs reassure us we are on the right route or where or when to get off a road.

See the source image

In Johns Gospel, John puts in a series of road signs and signposts and thanks be to God every editor of the Bible has made sure they are in Johns Gospel. John is a master of collecting Jesus’s “I am”  sayings:

I am the light of the World.

I am the way the truth and the Life.

I am the bread of life.

I am the ressurection and the Life

I am the Good shepherd.

Today we look at Jesus saying “I am the true vine” from John 15.

In Johns Gospel when there is something like a story or parable, John explains who is who, we are not left to work it out for ourselves as in the Synoptic Gospels. John is clear:  the Vinedresser is God.

Today I wish to take a broad picture of the whole of John 15 (more than today’s reading alone) and draw out three things which in fact go in to chapter 16 too.

Abide (abide in me says Jesus)

Love ( love one another )

Hate ( The world will hate you as it hates me)

So, two things Abiding and Loving we are called to do, and the realisation of what will happen to us, hate,  (at some time as disciples of Jesus)

Abide

Firstly abide. Just like a branch has to be pruned and yet stay part of the Vine if its to live and have fruit so too we are as disciples called to abide in Christ.

Abide means to stay.

Oxford English dictionary:  Remain in expectation, wait ,pause, delay, wait for, watch encounter withstand Shakespeare Richard 2nd To abide thy kingly doom to await submissively and submit to.

But let us start with John 15:1 The word used in Greek to describe God (in many Bibles Vine-dresser) is in fact Georgas which means Farmer or gardener and is commonly understood as meaning Tenant farmer so here is God described as a hands-on tenant farmer an expert at tending vines, one who tills the soil, the ordinary worker who knows what to do for the good of a plant. Like a good tenant farmer, he is good at his job; sowing, planting, pruning cutting off dead wood and we like wise are to be like branches that survive pruning and abide in the Vine.

Psalm 91:1

English Standard Version

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will abide in the shadow of the Almighty

 

Psalm 125:1

125 Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion,
    which cannot be moved, but abides forever.

1 John 2:24

English Standard Version

24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.

So, the call to abide runs throughout scripture.

So how are we to abide? a bit of background may help .In John 15 branches that are pruned are called KATHAIRO and in John 15:3 Jesus says you are clean because of the word I have spoken to you abide in me and I in you the word for cleaned is KATHAROS, we see how similar the two words are. Somehow then, being a disciple that abides in Christ and stays close to Jesus is exactly the same as being a disciple who is cleansed and clean and will bear good fruit.

So, to abide is to stay close to Jesus because we cannot bear fruit unless we abide in Christ .Last year I planted 8 raspberry plants, one is dead that is because I didn’t untie the branches properly and its wilted, its good only to be burnt.

But the other  7 raspberry  plants are growing well. As they have sucked up nutrients from the earth

Next, we look at Love John is the Gospel writer who above all mentions love more than any other gospel writer. (39 times)

Disciples in Johns gospel are only given one command what is that?

To Read the Bible ? (no)To go to Church (No) (great though these are)

To love YES!

That is what Jesus says in John 13:34-36.

John 13:34-35

English Standard Version

34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”

If you and I don’t love, we are according to John 15 vs 6 like a branch that withers and is fit only for burning, Wow that is strong, love is a command, it goes with following Christ

We abide
We love.

If there is hating, its what non-Christians do to us, Not what we do to each other.The only thing we are to hate is Sin

John 15:9-11 says.

English Standard Version

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.

So here says Jesus This is my promise John 15:10 keeping my command is uniquely connected with abiding in his love.

Just as I have kept my Father’s commands and abide in his love.

Look how Jesus treated women, the women with the  issue of blood, the woman bent over for 18 years ,the woman caught in adultery he healed and forgave them all.

Look at how Jesus treated Children he welcomed and included them. Look how Jesus looked at the Rich man: he loved him.

The world teaches us to hate, we divide into camps political, class, or our views on this and that, but Jesus loved all who he came across, women, children, soldiers, rich men, poor beggars.

But we are to love like Jesus loves. Note the pattern. As the Father has loved me So, I have loved you. Abide in my love.

The Father has lived in all eternity with Jesus and will forever .Think about how the Father loved Jesus.

He let Jesus be born of Mary. He let Jesus be brought up by Joseph, He allowed Jesus to be caught up in exile, fleeing Bethlehem and slaughter for refuge in Egypt, and then changing location again for Nazareth in Galilee.

Love in John is not soppy!

It takes risks.

That Fathers love let Jesus wait 30 years until he began his active adult ministry. Love waits. In those 30 years think how much Jesus learnt about Nature, people, objects, agriculture, food  and money: all appear in his stories. Love waits and love let Jesus be arrested, tortured and die on a cruel cross on the hill called Calvary. Love vertically and love horizontally.

This is my commandment says Jesus, love one another as I have loved you Jesus gave himself 24/7 for his disciples  apart from when he went off up a mountain to pray but even there his own were always on his heart.

Wow that is how God wants me to love you and visa-versa.

I have a confession; reading John 15 I realize how poor my love is for you and maybe in the light of the same scripture is your love for me ( my intention is not to depress you or me) but we have to allow God’s word to do its work. To convict, bring about repentance and then renewal.

Thank God that every day is a fresh start.

Thank God that this Sunday I and you can come to Church renew our faith seek his forgiveness let HIS love soak into us and say I need God’s love, the Love that lay down his life on the cross so I can love my friend and my neighbour.

Greater love says Jesus has no one than this that they lay down his life for his friends Note he calls us friends not servants.

I choose you says Jesus and i appoint you to bear fruit. GO and bear fruit These things I command you; love one another.

And says Jesus as you love me and obey me the world will hate you ( John 15:18). There is a fundamental reason for the disciple’s experience of hatred and rejection The world hated Jesus the sent one of the Father and they all hate the disciples .

Here is the bad news.

Haters stay in their sin; They hate because they do not know the Father or the Son. This world says Christ will send the Son of Man to the Cross and they will do the same to you.

Here is the good news.

Knowing this is an antidote to disappointment; Some people will not accept our invitation to know the Gospel of Jesus but that is their choice. IF we obey. God, some will hate us.

If we refuse to join in and hate foreigners ( and love them instead). If we refuse to be dishonest (and be truthful) if we refuse to lust (and be pure) and refuse to swear and join in gossip some people will hate us for it.

Some people will continue in their sin.

Some Christians will be surprised that we do not forgive X for Sin A B and C .It isradical to live out Matthew 5-7.Its radical to love, radical to forgive, radical to love the lost and pick up the fallen.

So Do these two thing Abide and Love. These two things have a funny habit of winning over haters.

The road sign that is most likely turn a hater into a lover and turn back to God are.

Our cup of tea

Our listening ears.

Our message of forgiveness.

Our servant heart.

Our  refusal to lie, lust, swear and get drunk.

Our utter commitment to Christ like Love.

Our  friendship

Join me in recommitting today to be one who Abides and one who loves.

C, Tudor V Roberts May 2021

God our redeemer,

you have delivered us from the power of darkness

and brought us into the kingdom of your Son:

grant, that as by his death he has recalled us to life,

so by his continual presence in us he may raise us

to eternal joy;

through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,

who is alive and reigns with you,

in the unity of the Holy Spirit,

one God, now and for ever.

 


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