Sermon Starters

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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

The Fifth Sunday After Easter
Series B


Option #1: "The Gardener, The Grapevine (John 1:17; 6:68-69) 
and the Branches:
John 15:1-8
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, M.Div.

  I. He’s looking for fruit (Lk 13:7ff), so He prunes the branches--text, vv1-2, John 15:8, Gal 5:22-23; Heb 12:6-10
 II. Being attached to the vine is a matter of life or death--text, vv4-6, Matt 3:10; Col 2:6ff.; the fire: Matt 7:19, 13:41-42; Heb 6:8; Rev 21:8

III. The fruit brings glory to the Gardener--text, v8, Matt 13:43; Lk 8:15; Heb 6:7

Godly fruit exists basically in two dimensions: attitude and action. The fruit of the Holy Spirit in a believer’s life is manifested internally in his attitudes of "love, joy peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Gal 5:22-23). As far as godly actions are concerned, Jesus said, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the Gardener. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it, that it may bear more fruit" (John 15:1-2). The writer of Hebrews speaks of "the fruit of lips that give thanks to His name" (Heb 13:15), and Paul prayed that Philippian believers would be prepared for the day of Christ by being "filled with the fruit of righteousness which comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God" (Phil 1:11). (John MacArthur)

Thus faith is a divine work in us, that changes us and regenerates us of God, and puts to death the old Adam, makes us entirely different people in heart, spirit, mind, and all powers, and confers the Holy Spirit. Oh, it is a living, busy, active, powerful thing that we have in faith, so that it is impossible for it not to do good without ceasing. Nor does it ask whether good works are to be done; but before the question is asked, it is already doing them, and is always engaged in doing that it is impossible to separate works from faith, yea, just as impossible as it is for heat and light to be separated from fire. (Martin Luther in Preface to Romans)


Children's Message
John 15:4-6
Rev. Wayne Dobratz

Objects needed: an obviously dead branch, a branch just severed from a tree, and a butane fire starter.


You just heard the Lord Jesus tell us that He is like a grapevine and that we are like the branches attached to the vine. We don’t have many grapevines around here, so I brought along branches from two different trees.

Grapes were a very important crop in Jesus’ time. So it was very important to get as much fruit as possible out of the grape vine. It was easy to tell the difference as to which branch was fruitful and which branch was a waste of time. The difference? It had to be attached to the vine!

Jesus says that it’s the same with us. He wants fruit from us. He died on the cross for our sins, He bought us with His own blood. Now He wants to see some fruit, just as a man who purchased a vineyard would want nice big, ripe grapes.

(Hold up branches) What would you say about this branch (the dead one)? Does it look like it will ever bear fruit? Not a chance! What about this one (the one with buds and blossoms)? What do you think of this branch? If this branch were from an apple tree, you can be pretty sure that these pretty blossoms will be replaced by apples at the end of summer. How about some apple pie?

We need to be attached to Jesus. If we are, then we will do good things for Him and for our neighbors, because it’s just natural that grapes will grow on a grapevine or apples on an apple tree.

Jesus said: Remain in Me, and I will 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 anyone remains in Me and I in him, they will bear much fruit.

+   +   +

Option #2: "Clinging to Christ, The Vine"
John 15:1-8
Rev. Kelly Bedard, M.Div.

A. Staying Connected

    1. To the Master Gardener through the True Vine, Jesus Christ, the Word become flesh

    2. Dependent upon the True Vine/Word both for life and for fruit-bearing 

B. Branching Out

    1. Knowing what to ask of the Father and, accordingly, glorifying Him

    2. Bearing more and more fruit for Him by more and more becoming His disciples

1. klema {kaly'-mah}, v2: a tender and flexible branch; specifically, the shoot or branch of a vine, a vine sprout. (Strong's)
2. Something to consider in this text is translating airo in its primary sense, "to raise up, elevate, lift up," as opposed to NIV's "cuts off." The imagery is of God, the Master Gardener, lifting up drooping branches wallowing in the mud and mire--a preamble, if you will, to pruning. No sticks in the mud are we!
3. kathairo {kath-ah'-ee-ro}, v2: to cleanse, of filth impurity, etc.; to prune trees and vines from useless shoots; metaphorically, from guilt, to expiate. (Strong's)
4. xeraino {xay-rah'-ee-no}, v6: to make dry, dry up, wither; to become dry, to be dry, be withered; of plants; of the ripening of crops; of fluids; of the members of the body; to waste away, pine away, i.e., a withered hand. (Strong's)
5. Faith is always changing. Even though one is connected to the true vine. Even though one's faith is firmly rooted in Jesus Christ. Though the "root" of one's faith never changes, but from year to year one's faith needs pruning by God. Maybe some old habits or thoughts or attitudes or behaviors need to die, so that, through the power of Jesus, even more fruit will be produced in one's life. (Brian Stoffregen)
6. Branches need to ensure they remain connected. Fruitful branches will be carefully pruned--a reference to persecution? It need not be. In fact, the pruning is likened to purifying. What purifies is the word (15:2-3), so care for the branches means teaching and nurturing them. The word is the word of love, the word of life which Jesus brings. (William Loader)
7. Fruit could also be love. Certainly 15:9-17 emphasizes the command to love. But in the light of previous use of the fruit image (for instance, 12:24-32) and the emphasis in 14:10-14, it is more likely that fruit-bearing relates to bringing others into this relationship with Christ. The two ideas are in any case closely connected. Evangelism which is not understood as an aspect of love usually becomes some form of manipulation or numbers drive. (William Loader)
8. The "spiritual" work of being pruned and grafted never floats away into some perfect vine that casts its shadow on the world. This work is immanently practical and tangible. Not everyone who says "Pruned, pruned!" will be saved. So, grow up and get to work. Leave the harvest to the Harvester. (Wesley White)
9. Fundamental to fruitlessness is branches seeking to bear fruit by themselves... (Ed Schroeder)


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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:32 PM