I had the privilege of preaching at my church recently. A church, pastors, and people that I love, with a burden to preach a sermon on the importance of the Christian daily reading God’s Word. I have turned that sermon into a series of blog posts.
Each year, for the last ten years, our family has taken a vacation to the North Shore. This stretch of land from Duluth to Grand Portage is my favorite place on earth to go to again and again. We rent a cabin just 40 feet from the majestic Lake Superior, hike the windy and steep Superior Hiking Trail, listen to the waves mercilessly crash into the rocky shoreline as a storm moves in, savor every crumb of the world’s greatest donuts in Grand Marais, and watch the sunset turn the tiny town into an array of gold, orange and purple. Our family loves to abide in the embrace of Minnesota’s north shore.
You may think that returning to the same place and experiencing the same things year after year may get boring over time. Yet each year we seem to find something new that amazes us. We discover a new waterfall to gaze at. A higher rock to jump off of at Temperance River. A different trail with an overlook of Lake Superior. The North Shore is filled with such evidence of God’s glory that I can’t help but worship him as I walk through a sea of white birch trees, take in majestic forests on top of Eagle Mountain, or watch an early morning sunrise or late night thunderstorm.
Now, if you have never been to the North Shore, and I have now wetted your appetite to go there, I have succeeded in the mission of my last two paragraphs. What I now hope to do, by the work of the Holy Spirit, is to create that same kind of appetite within you for God’s Word. My prayer is that this sermon will create a thirst for God’s Word that will cause you to abide in God’s Word more in 2013 than in any previous year of your Christian life. May 2013 be a year in which you read, memorizes and study God’s Word as never before.
The aim of this is for you to see we are to be about the mission of fruit bearing, through abiding in God’s Word and prayer, for God’s glory and our joy. My aim is not to create a sense of duty or guilt over the neglect you may have given to reading your Bible in the past. My aim is to have John 15:1-9 stir within you an awakening realization that Jesus is life and his words must abide in us. He is the bread of life, so let us eat. He is the light of the world, so let us walk in the light. He is the door for the sheep, so let us pass through. He is the good shepherd, so let us abide in his protection. He is the resurrection and the life, so let us live in him. He is the way, the truth, and the life so let us walk that narrow way. He is the true vine, so let us abide in him.
John 15 is among four chapters which are referred to as “The Fair Well Discourse.” John 13:3 through 16:33 take place during the Feast of the Passover and the disciples are having their last supper with Jesus just before he is delivered over to crucified. Jesus is giving his final words to the disciples after spending three years together.
- In chapter 13 he washes the disciples feet and Judas leaves, setting in motion the events leading up to his betrayal of Jesus.
- In chapter 14 he says that he is the way, the truth and the life, and promises that the Helper, the Holy Spirit, will come after he leaves.
- In chapter 15 he identifies himself as the true vine and his disciples as the branches and tells them to expect the world to hate them.
- Finally, in chapter 16 he talks about the work of the Holy Spirit, promises that their sorrow will turn to joy, and declares that he has overcome the world.
So that is the context of John 15:1-9. We see three points from this text. The mission is fruit-bearing, the means is abiding and the motivation is God’s glory and our joy. Jesus is laying out for them how to abide in him, the true vine.