Faithlife
Faithlife

Lesson's from the Garden

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Vision  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  30:57
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I want to continue talking about vision for Sunnyside, and that we as a congregation and as individuals become the best that we can be, that we become all that God has intended for us to be - that we reach our full potential.
I want to continue talking about vision for Sunnyside, and that we as a congregation and as individuals become the best that we can be, that we become all that God has intended for us to be - that we reach our full potential.
I have never considered to be a visionary passage, until this past week. Just some thoughts to share … won’t get to all of them today.
Background: In chapter 13, Jesus and the disciples eating the Seder or Passover Meal, and as we discovered last week, Jesus did the unexpected and unthinkable – He showed them the full extent of His love by washing their feet. After the Seder meal, they left and walked to a place where Jesus would offer up His final prayers before being arrested. And as they walked, they most likely passed near some vineyards, and Jesus taught His disciples one last time –
John 15:1 NIV
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
- He said, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.
When Jesus said, I am the true vine, he’s possibly referring to
Jeremiah 2:22 NIV
Although you wash yourself with soap and use an abundance of cleansing powder, the stain of your guilt is still before me,” declares the Sovereign Lord.
When Jesus said, I am the true vine, he’s possibly referring to where God said to Israel, “I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?” Initially, Israel was the true vine of the world. They held God’s truths and God’s Law - they were to branch out into the world, but they became corrupt and rejected God. They messed it all up.
where God said to Israel, “I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?” Initially, Israel was the true vine of the world. They held God’s truths and God’s Law - they were to branch out into the world, but they became corrupt and rejected God. They messed it all up.
where God said to Israel, “I had planted you like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock. How then did you turn against me into a corrupt, wild vine?” Initially, Israel was the true vine of the world. They held God’s truths and God’s Law - they were to branch out into the world, but they became corrupt and rejected God. They messed it all up.
And by the time of Jesus, the Jews thought that salvation was through strict adherence to the Law (the system). And here Jesus says salvation is through me - it’s not through the religious leaders or religious system, but through me. I am the true Vine - if you rewind the conversation just a little bit, Jesus told them in chapter 14, “I am the way, the truth and the life - I am the true Vine.”
Back to the text -
John 15:1–8 NIV
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
- “I am the true vine (not the system), and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. I am the vine (not the Pharisees or religious system); you are the branches (not Israel anymore). If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
So Jesus is the true Vine - then He says my Father is the gardener or vinedresser. That imagery would have been very familiar to the disciples - and the idea that God is like a gardener, would have been very comforting to them. But if we’re not familiar with what gardeners do, and if we don’t keep in mind God’s character, we might misinterpret this passage.
So Jesus is the true Vine - then He says my Father is the gardener or vinedresser. That imagery would have been very familiar to the disciples - and the idea that God is like a gardener, would have been very comforting to them. But if we’re not familiar with what gardeners do, and if we don’t keep in mind God’s character, we might misinterpret this passage.
According to this passage, what does the gardener do? He cuts and He prunes and He burns! That’s the picture we get. I’ve heard a lot of sermons from , and it seems that God is often portrayed as kind of not happy and eager to cut and burn. And He’s got these massive pruning shears and He’s on the prowl looking for Christians who are not producing fruit. And when He finds you - cut cut cut! He’s going to cut you to pieces and toss you into the fire! So you better be producing fruit (which is often interpreted as producing other Christians). And this passage can kind of make us feel threatened or guilty.
We’ll talk more about the fruit later, but there’s some truth here - the text does teach that God will cut off unproductive branches - He will prune. By the way, if you don’t know, pruning is the process of cutting off dead, diseased or nonproductive branches from a plant. (e.g. tomatoes and sucker branches). And the spiritual connection is that God needs to prune our lives from time to time if we are going to be productive in the Kingdom of God. We need to cut off and get rid of sin and anything that hinders us from living a godly life.
Again, if you are not familiar with what gardeners do and why they do what they do, you will miss something very significant and perhaps even life-changing. Now, what I’m about to teach isn’t necessarily implied in the text …
Let me ask you this, when a gardener prunes a plant, what are his or her motives, general characteristics and behavior? I mean, why do gardeners garden?
Some of you know I took up gardening this year – my first time ever. We had a few gardens when I was growing up, but mostly all I remember was pulling weeds and snapping green beans and things growing that I would never eat. I know a lot of people garden and grow stuff (especially in Portland), but I’ve avoided gardening for 45-years for two reasons -
1) I like what Mustafa said yesterday at breakfast - it’s torture! 2) I have a tendency to kill things that grow. For example, a friend gave me a plant some years ago and said, “You can’t kill these. And if you’re not careful, it will take over your yard.” Well, it didn’t take over my yard. It didn’t even take over the little square inch where I planted it. I killed a plant that was supposed to be unkillable.
Anyway, I built some raised beds this past Spring, filled them with good soil and planted my very own garden. And you know what? I’m enjoying it. So a couple weeks ago, I asked the Lord to teach me about Him through gardening. And sure enough, He did.
I am by no means a master gardener. I’ve learned a lot and I’m still learning, I’m making a lot of mistakes, but to my surprise, I am very very interested in my garden. I care about my garden. I think about my garden all the time. I am excited about my garden. I’m taking pictures of my garden. I have a garden App. I’m in my garden every morning and evening - I’m checking for progress, looking for bugs etc. And pruning when need be. Watering, fertilizing … I just love my garden!!!!
So let me ask again, why do gardeners garden? Why do gardeners do what they do? They don’t garden out of drudgery, or anger, or hate. They don’t prune, and water and kill bugs because they’re mad - and they’re not cutting this and pruning that because it gives them joy to cut plants into pieces!
Is it clicking?
Why do gardeners garden? Because the love it. They enjoy it. There is something unexplainable about getting in the midst of your own creation, and watching them grow and bear fruit and getting your hands in the soil and investing time and energy in protecting them and helping them reach their potential. Gardeners will do everything they can to save a plant ….
Gardeners do what they do because they are very very interested in the garden!
I know this is simplistic, but if you understand the implication, the truth of this is immense! Jesus said, my Father is the gardener.
God is very very interested in you. He is interested in every aspect of your life. He is concerned about you. He thinks about you. He wants to take care of you and help you reach your potential. He wants to be with you every morning and evening - He wants to be with you forever! Not only does He want to be with you, He wants to abide in you and you in Him!
God, the Father, is the gardener and He is very, very interested in you.
Some of you may not believe that. You think God just wants to cut and burn. He’s angry. You don’t think He really cares. You don’t think He’s really interested in you. Why would He be. Look at my life! Look at what I’ve done - why would God be interested in me?
Some of you may know that God is interested, but you haven’t received it, internalized it - you haven’t believed it.
That’s kind of what Davide asked in
Psalm 8:4 NIV
what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
- “… what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” Who are we that You God would be interested in us!
Who are we that You God would be interested in us!
There are about 217 verses in the Bible where God says, “My people.” That’s my garden. I planted it. I’m taking care of it. I’m interested in it.
Jesus said, my Father is the gardener.
Psalm 139:1–3 NIV
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
Sure sounds like He’s interested to me.
So let me ask again, why do gardeners garden? Why do gardeners do what they do?
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