“Faith and fruit”

Easter 5, May 2, 2021
Text: John 15:1–8
Text: Faith and fruit
Other Lessons: Acts 8:26–40; Psalm 150; 1 John 4:1–11 (12–21)
1. In the Name of the Father…Amen.
1. The Gospel lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
1. Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
691 Fruitful Trees, the Spirit’s Sowing
1 Fruitful trees, the Spirit’s sowing,
May we ripen and increase,
Fruit to life eternal growing,
Rich in love and joy and peace.

2 Laden branches freely bearing
Gifts the Giver loves to bless;
Here is fruit that grows by sharing,
Patience, kindness, gentleness.
1. Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God the Father through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
1. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.

1. Spring is busting out all over! 1. Fields have been plowed. 2. Seeds have been sown. 3. Gardens have been tilled and planted. 4. Now comes the work of tending to those fields and gardens. 5. We do this with an eye to the future. 6. We look forward to the harvest: whether it be corn, wheat, tomatoes, carrots, and potatoes.
1. God’s glorious creation at this time of the year brings out the farmer or gardener in many of us—for some more so than others! 1. God’s Word today speaks to each of us, whether or not we’ve ever done any farming or gardening. 2. We know what our Lord Jesus is talking about in this section of the Gospel of John, where he speaks of the vine and the branches. 3. God’s Word is very clear. 4. Jesus is the vine, and we are the branches. 5. God has created us branches to bear fruit. 6. And his Word is clear about how this will happen: 1. God is the one who enables us to produce fruit. 2. He does that through our connection to the vine, who is Jesus Christ. 3. If Jesus is a part of our lives through faith as Savior and Lord, then fruit will appear.
1. Jesus, the Vine Divine, Works a Fruitful Life in Us through the Connection of Faith.
1. It truly is only in the branches’ connection to the vine that we bear fruit.
1. Fellow branches connected to the vine, what are some examples of the fruit Jesus talks about here? 1. From other places in the Word of God, we know that this fruit includes the attitudes found inside us, described in Galatians as “fruit of the Spirit”: 1. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23) 2. This fruit also includes the God-given ability to resist sin and the power to live a Christian life filled with good works in service to those around us. These are examples of the fruit Jesus wants to see in each of us.
1. Fruit of faith: 1. Service projects I was involved in high school, college, and seminary. 1. Canned food drive with Youth for Christ. 2. Helping members with yardwork. 3. Helping the neighborhood in St. Louis/New Orleans. 2. Did I have to do any of those things so as to improve my standing before God? No! 3. Should and ought I to have done them? Yes! As an expression of my faith and share God’s love with others.

1. If you were to admire and commend fellow Christians for their fruit-bearing, they would likely say, “Thank you, but it’s no big deal.” 1. They might also say, “To God be the glory.” 2. Do you know why Christians would say such a thing? 1. Because their strength and ability to produce such fruit comes from Jesus, the life-giving vine! That’s why. 3. In verse 5 of our text, Jesus says: 1. “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit.”
1. Then, Jesus quickly adds this warning: 1. “Apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned” (verses 5–6).
1. People who have big trees in their yards will tell you that, along with the blessings of big trees: 1. their beauty, 2. the curb appeal they give to the property, 3. the shade they provide
1. They also make a big mess. 1. Seeds, leaves, twigs, and branches fall. 2. The owners often have a growing pile of branches somewhere on their property. 3. Use as kindling in a backyard firepit is not far off for those branches. 4. Or maybe burial at the city dump. 5. And speaking of that, have you ever seen the “dead branch section” at the dump? 1. It’s not a pretty sight!
1. In our lives as the people of God, we don’t want to become like those dead branches. 1. How do we prevent such death, when it comes to our relationship with God and bearing fruit for him? 2. Jesus makes it clear in our lesson today. 3. The key to our remaining vital, living branches and not becoming dead branches in the kingdom of God is to remain connected to the vine, Jesus, and to receive life from him. 1. This Vine Divine, Jesus, gives his life for us and then to us through God’s Word and Sacraments.
1. That’s why Jesus came to earth in the first place: 1. to bring and to give life. 2. Before Jesus came to us with his life-giving work, we and all humankind were helplessly dead branches whose destiny it was to be picked up and thrown into the fire. 3. We were lifeless, fruitless, worthless, dead-in-sin branches! 4. But at the right time, even when we were lifeless, fruitless, worthless, dead-in-sin branches, Jesus Christ, true God from heaven, was planted in this world. 5. Jesus was and is the Vine Divine, and he came to bring life to us all!
1. Our heavenly Father had a most unusual plan to bring us life through the Vine Divine, his beloved Son. 1. The plan for life would involve death. 2. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, would have to suffer and even, for a time, be cut off from God the Father as Jesus took upon himself on the cross the sin and eternal punishment of all humankind. 3. The vine, Jesus, died. 4. He was buried. 5. But in three days, he rose from the dead. 6. Forty days later, he ascended into heaven. 7. And from heaven, Jesus Christ, the living Lord, has given you the great gift of the Holy Spirit, who, through the tools of God’s Word and the Sacraments, keeps you connected to the vine, giving you and keeping you in saving faith: 1. active, fruit-bearing faith.
1. What grace! 1. What a blessing it is that, by God’s power through the mighty life-giving message of Jesus Christ, you and I remain connected to the vine and we live forever! 2. Oh, how God loves you and wants you to be a living branch and his dear child now and forever!
1. This love of God for us ought to be so precious that we let nothing get in the way of regular worship and the study of God’s Word, unless poor health or immobility prevents us from gathering with fellow branches of the vine for worship. 1. You know that from the Word of God today you’re hearing that life comes from the Vine Divine, Jesus. 2. Please know as well that life flows to you through his precious Gospel promises found throughout the Bible, for your reading any time during the week, and that it’s given to you personally here in the Lord’s Supper. 3. So you come here, or you hear and read God’s Word on your own and with others, and you are strengthened in your faith. 4. In our worship services, you receive Jesus’ very body and blood in the Lord’s Supper, bringing to you all the life-giving gifts of Jesus, including his forgiveness for all your sins and the strengthening of your faith. 1. Yes, through his Word, your faith is strengthened. 2. In Your Baptism, you are a child of God. 3. And in the Lord’s Supper, you remain connected to the life-giving vine, Jesus.
1. From our fruit-bearing faith connection to the Vine flow other blessings too.
1. This faith connection to Jesus is of utmost importance. 1. But there is much more Good News! 2. There are more benefits that flow to us, according to what he tells us today in his Word. 3. These benefits are centered in the way his words shape our wills to align with what he wants for us, in two very important ways. 1. The first benefit is prayer. 2. Our Lord says in verse 7 of our lesson today: 1. “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” 2. Here, Jesus invites us to pray. 3. This is a special kind of prayer. 4. This is prayer aimed at carrying forward the work of Jesus. 5. This is prayer based upon God’s Word and will. 6. This is prayer that acknowledges before God and man: “Not my will, but thine be done.” 7. This is prayer that trusts a loving Father in heaven to provide for all our needs of body and soul.
1. A song by singer/songwriter Keith Green and his wife Melody says in very simple terms what prayer should be in connection with our lives and with the Lord: – Make my life a prayer to you
I wanna do what you want me to
No empty words, and no white lies
No token prayers, no compromise
1. Besides a life of prayer, another benefit of staying connected to Jesus by faith is the delight of glorifying God by our fruit-bearing. 1. Jesus says in verse 8: 1. “By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” 2. Jesus makes us his followers through his words, and we in turn reveal that we are his followers through our fruit: 1. Our attitudes 2. Our words 3. Our actions. 2. Knowing Jesus and living in him affects how we talk about others, where we go, what we do with our time, how we spend our money. 3. We live with purpose and hope. 4. Oh, we still can have fun, but this is the best kind of fun! 5. People notice we’re a little bit different than others, and they may wonder why. 6. We can say we’re different because Jesus is our Savior and God is our loving Father. 7. We want to live a “thank-you” life to God; 1. we want to honor him with our lives. 2. That is what it means to bear fruit that glorifies God.

1. On the night before his death on the cross, Jesus spoke to his disciples as a group in his teaching on the vine and the branches (John 15:1–8). 1. Each of the disciples was a branch of the vine. 2. But they were connected to him together. You are a branch of the vine, and we in the Church are branches together. 3. You are a branch among many branches. 4. God has made us for community and for conversation, with God and with one another.
1. This life, this connection Jesus gives us through His very self, is always in season. 1. There’s always a harvest, for Jesus is the faithful Vine Divine. 2. And as we are connected to him through faith, he promises we will be fruitful branches.
1. Fruit-bearing that glorifies God includes the good work of treasuring one another in the Church, regarding one another as precious children of the heavenly Father and brothers and sisters in Christ. 1. We are to care for and encourage the connections each of us have with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. 1. Weep with them as they mourn. 2. Rejoice with them as they express their joy. 3. Encourage them, building them up in the faith. 4. Nurture the connections you have here at church, just as you would care for the connections between you and your family members, between you and your friends. 5. The people sitting around you are not only friends and family; they are also the redeemed of God. 6. Nurture the connections you have with people outside the faith and outside the Church. 7. Who knows? The Spirit might draw them to the Divine Vine, Jesus Christ, through your fruitful living, through your words and actions. 8. May the Lord God grant this for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
1. Let us pray:
3 Rooted deep in Christ our Master,
Christ our pattern and our goal,
Teach us, as the years fly faster,
Goodness, faith, and self-control.

4 Fruitful trees, the Spirit’s tending,
May we grow till harvests cease;
Till we taste, in life unending,
Heaven’s love and joy and peace.
Text: © 1984 Hope Publishing Co. Used by permission: LSB Hymn License no. 110000247
1. Now may the God of peace who brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)
1. Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Amen.
1. The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

1. In the Name of the Father…Amen.