We briefly step away from our exegesis of 1 Corinthians, to consider a text and a topic that is absolutely essential for the spiritual life and health of our church. In John 15, Jesus is teaching his disciples in the Upper Room, at the Last Supper, just before he would be betrayed by Judas Iscariot and go to the cross. Thus, these are Jesus’ last words to his disciples. Even now, the disciples are nervous, scared, and spiritually shaken. In response, Jesus gives them words of life and eternal hope.
Jesus begins in vs. 1 by giving an farming analogy. He is explaining how we are not only able to live, but even flourish in a godless age. We are able to do this by staying connected to Christ, the source of life. In fact, the basis of true Christianity, and true spiritual life, is being connected to the source of life, God in Christ. In this text, Christ is the vine, i.e. the rooted plant which is the source of life. God is the vinedresser, the one who cares for the vine, and thus has honest expectations of fruit-bearing from the branches. The vinedresser, commonly called the farmer, has done all the essential work for the vine to bear fruit. He has tilled the soil, planted the seeds, removed the rocks, removed the weeds, watered the ground, and lovingly cared for both the field and the plant. In short, there was nothing more that he could have done! If there is no fruit, the fault belongs completely to the branches- and we will see in the text what is the inevitable and unenviable end of such a worthless branch.
In this text, we find ten characteristics of a dying Christian. We will look at the first five today, and the final five in our next Bible study together.