John 15:1-8 - Homilies By J.r. Thomson
The vine and the branches.
If these words were spoken in the house, they may have been suggested by a creeping, Clinging vine trained against the wall; if upon the footpath, by the vineyards on the slope of Olivet; if in the temple, by the golden vine wrought upon the gates.
I. THE VINE IN ITSELF IS A SUITABLE EMBLEM OF CHRIST . Its beauty, as planted, trained, or trellised; its grateful shade; its fruit, whether fresh and luscious or dried; its wine," that maketh glad the heart of man;"—all render it not only interesting, but suitable to set forth in symbol the excellence of the Redeemer, his nobility, beauty, preciousness, and use to man. Palestine was a land of vineyards: witness the grapes of Eshcol; Judah binding his foal to the vine, etc. Hence most naturally the vine was used in Old Testament Scripture as an emblem of the chosen nation, and hence Jesus in his parables put the noble plant to the same use. No wonder that our Lord applied to himself and to his people a designation so instructive.
II. THE VINE IS AN EMBLEM OF CHRIST , ESPECIALLY AS THE SOURCE OF SPIRITUAL LIFE .
1. He is the divinely appointed Root and Stem upon which the branches depend; the Superior with which they, the inferior, are related in dependence. The vine-stock survives even if the branch be cut off and left to die. We are dependent upon Christ; he is not dependent upon us.
2. A close and vital union joins the branches to the vine, and Christians to their Lord. The life which is naturally Christ's becomes ours through our union by faith with him.
3. Yet it is a mutual indwelling. As Jesus himself has said, "I in you; you in me." What condescension and kindness in this marvelous provision of Divine wisdom!
III. THE BRANCHES ARE INDEBTED TO THE VINE FOR THEIR FRUITFULLNESS ; SO ARE CHRISTIANS TO THEIR LORD . The branches of the living vine evince the life and health of the plant first by their vigor, their verdure, their luxuriance, their comeliness; signs of spiritual life are manifested in the Church of God by the peace, the cheerfulness, the spiritual prosperity, of its members. But the great aim of the husbandman's care and culture is that fruit may be yielded in abundance. What shall we understand by spiritual fruit, the fruits of the Spirit?
1. Perfection of Christian character.
2. Abundance in Christian usefulness.
IV. THE TREATMENT OF UNFRUITFUL AND FRUITFUL BRANCHES FIGURES THAT OF THE NOMINAL AND THE REAL DISCIPLES OF CHRIST .
1. The cause of unfruitfulness is stated. "Severed from me ye can do nothing."
2. The doom of unfruitfulness is anticipated. To be cast out and burnt, like the vine-parings in the Kedron valley.
3. The condition of fruitfulness is mentioned. Close union with Christ.
4. The means of increased fruitfulness is also explained. Divine pruning and discipline, i.e. affliction and trouble tending to spiritual strength and fertility.
V. THE MOTIVES TO CHRIST - ABIDING AND FRUIT - BEARING ARE URGED . Stress is laid here upon two.
1. Thus the heavenly Husbandman, the Divine Father, is glorified.
2. Thus Jesus secures for himself true and worthy disciples. What powerful motives to induce Christians to be "neither barren nor unfruitful"!—T.
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