The Glory Has Departed


Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

The Lutheran Library Publishing Ministry

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Saved worship files and Greek lessons are at the live worship link.

email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
which works as gregjacksonedlp@gmail.com too.

Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
Book of Concord Selections
Martin Chemnitz Press Books

Norma A. Boeckler Author's Page

Pastor Gregory L. Jackson's Author's Page

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Mid-Week Lenten Service - I AM the True Vine



Mid-Week Lenten Vespers, 2015


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson


Bethany Lutheran Worship, 7 PM Central Time 

The Hymn # 552        Abide with Me
The Order of Vespers                                             p. 41
The Psalmody                   Psalm    14                 p. 124
The Lections                            The Passion History
                                                 John 15:1-10

The Sermon Hymn # 342  Chief of Sinners

The Sermon –     I AM the True Vine
 
The Prayers
The Lord’s Prayer
The Collect for Grace                                            p. 45

The Hymn # 554 Now Rest Beneath Night's Shadow

KJV John 15 

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.
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.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
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.
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.
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.
If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.


I AM the True Vine
The seven I AM sermons are being featured for Lent this year.
  1. John 6:48 I am that bread of life. KJV
  2. John 8:12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. KJV
  3. John 10:9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. KJV
  4. John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. KJV
  5. John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: KJV - Easter Sunday
  6. John 14:6 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. KJV - Good Friday
  7. John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. KJV
One of our readers/listeners is a vineyard manager (husbandman). I have never grown grapes, but they are very much like roses in their growth habits. In this sermon, which is largely lost on people who have never farmed and never gardened, the Father-Son relationship is taught first.
Christ is the True Vine, and yet the Father is the manager of the vineyard. The Father-Son theme is especially prominent in John's Gospel, so we can see this is intended to be a message for the Christian Church for all time. Likewise there is a beautiful section on the work of the Holy Spirit, part of Jesus' farewell sermon on sending an Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
The Father-Son relationship seems obvious to us because we are used to hearing it and we have no reason to doubt it. This relationship is taught with unusual clarity, and this parable or sermon is part of that explanation found throughout the Fourth Gospel. As the Evangelist says, "He is the exegete" - in other words, the Son explains the Father to us.

The vineyard references come from the necessity of using wine in those days and the practice of raising grapes for wine. (I understand the marketing of grape juice is quite recent in our history.)
Isaiah 5 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
For the vineyard of the Lord of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry...
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.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
This is so easy in gardening and so hard for people to grasp if they have only dabbled. When my fondness for roses comes up in conversation, people pounce and say, "They are so much work." One woman began yelling at me about how much they sprayed and sprayed their roses, either warning or blaming me. My neighbor showed me all his rose beds, dominated by weeds, and told me how many weed killers and man made "barriers" he installed.
The easy concept is this - roses, like grapes, need pruning (purging) for two reasons. 
The first is removal of dead wood, which saps the strength of roses. Dead wood is fairly easy to spot. I had a tiny plant that seemed all dead wood. I pruned it several times to see if it had life left in it. Several days later I dug it out to make room for Big Purple. I looked over the tiny plant in my hand and saw two vigorous sprouts growing up to form new canes, so I planted it in a new place and watered it carefully. 
Pruning the dead wood is an instant signal for the plant to grow. So there is a play on words here. One cleansing is the removal of unbelievers. Those who lack faith in Christ do not bear fruit. They are purged - with elaboration to come.
The other purging spurs new growth, and dabblers cannot see how well that works until they do it. 
and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.
If the rose has bloomed, it wants to set seed and the plant wants to quiet down. God has created many plants so that taking away the fruit makes them produce more and more. The roots grow more. The branches become more vigorous, and the blooming and fruiting cycles continue.
Rose hips, the source of vast amount of Vitamin C and the somewhat bitter rose hip tea, are the fruit of the rose (the seeds). They are more prominent in old fashioned roses.
So what does this mean, that we are purged or cleansed to be more fruitful? 
This is justification by faith, and nothing else than that. One cleansing is removal from the True Vine. The other is the removal of sin. The Good News of forgiveness releases us from the burden of regret, sorrow, and the urge to pay for our sins with emotional terrors or good works. That is the meaning of Romans 5:1-2

That does not give an excuse for sin but a reason to be fruitful - forgiveness received in faith, thanks to the grace of God in Christ.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.
Jesus teaches we are cleansed, forgiven, through the declaration of the Gospel, received in faith. So we have two kinds of cleansing - removal from the Vine, forgiveness to become more fruitful, and the method of cleansing - The Word I have spoken to you.
When we use Confession and Absolution, the Word spoken is in the Name of Christ. The Word is the Means of Grace, whether visible in the Sacraments of Holy Baptism and Holy Communion, or invisible in teaching and preaching. Where the Gospel distributes God's grace, forgiveness and eternal life spring up, as Luther wrote. And the fruits of the Spirit grow with abundance.
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.
This makes our relationship to the True Vine even clearer. And it fits the symbol of the grape vine (or the rose) so well. One does not separate the grapes from the vine. They are one. On the vine the grapes grow and ripen, never apart from the vine. Roses likewise must have the rose bush as their source. They are just as good as their host. 
We abide in Christ through the Means of Grace, through receiving the Word with sincere hearts. All the tricksters, wolves, and thieves want to make magic appear from their entertainments, but they do not have the Word, and consciously reject and persecute the Word. Therefore, the followers of the clown army cannot bear fruit.
This verse does not tell us to do great things, to become big successes, to build numbers that will leave people in awe. Only - abide in Me and I will abide in you.
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.
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.
Once again, this is what we now call a confessional formula, affirming the positive and rejecting the error. This hurts the feelings of those in error, but it needs to be stated often. I have seen some people change because they have been rattled by hearing their opinions did not match the teaching of the Word. 
This takes the previous Promise to another level - whoever abides in Him, because Jesus abides in that person - will be very fruitful. But without Christ we can do nothing.
The result of not believing, not abiding with Christ is five-fold:
  1. He is cut off from the Vine.
  2. He withers and dies.
  3. He is gathered up, just as I pick up pruned branches.
  4. He is cast into the fire - the promise of everlasting punishment.
  5. He is burned with the rest of unbelievers.
Throughout this Gospel, there is faith and unbelief. Unbelief is the foundational sin. Faith is access to God's grace, forgiveness, and eternal life.


If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.
Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.
This is yet another Promise. Abiding in Him means asking in prayer and receiving from Him. This glorifies God, because the fruitfulness is the result of God's energy in the Word, which can only come from believers teaching faith, not from fakes teaching some other philosophy sugar-coated and made more palatable with snacks and cola.