“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit. Already you are clean because of the word that I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-5
This morning I gave the sermon at Restore Church in North Haledon. We have been attending Restore for about six weeks now and we definitely see a future here. I spoke this morning on the Great Commission. This passage in Matthew chapter 28 is the last words Jesus speaks to his disciples before he ascended into heaven. Last wills and testaments are important in TV shows and in Movies when a main character is dying and they ask that the survivors, “Tell my children I love them.” Sometimes people get a last meal. The death row convict asks for a steak dinner before he goes to the chair. The last thing we do is often very meaningful and important. At this point in the lives of the disciples, forty days earlier Jesus was arrested and executed. During the arrest and the trial, all of his friends abandoned him; they scattered. Now Jesus calls them together and asks them to scatter. He tells them to “go into the world and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey all the things I have commanded you. And behold I am with you even until the end of the age.”
Of the four requests Jesus makes: Go, Make Disciples, Baptize and Teach, the one that we have missed as the church, big C, is make disciples. We have a decent handle on the Go, the Baptize and even the Teach (although we definitely need to know our Bibles better) but how are we on making disciples? If you ask me, not great. I feel in many churches, there is a desire for discipleship, but there isn’t discipleship. Why? Being a disciple is hard. Jesus says that we need to hate our families by comparison. As Kyle Idleman puts it in his book, Not a Fan, Jesus wants to be our one and only and not our one of many. Disciples fail. Jesus’ closest friends abandoned him when he needed them most. Mark, the Apostle, ran away from the Garden when Jesus was arrested naked! Disciples fail. But disciples are followers. If all authority has been given to Jesus, how can we as disciples operate in that authority? Abide.
Merriam-Webster gives this definition for abide : to stay or live somewhere. Jesus tells us in John that we are to abide in him. Abide in him. This means we are to live in him. Look at a grapevine. We have one in our yard. There are vines and there are branches. The branches are attached to the vine and get all of their nutrients from it. Apart from the vine, the branches die, plain and simple. Apart from Christ we can do NOTHING. I am the vine and you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. We are called to go and make disciples. How can we make a disciple if we do not abide in Christ? We can’t. You cannot lead someone somewhere you have never been. Only disciples can make disciples. It is a commitment and not a decision. It’s not a wedding, it is a marriage. We are to take up our cross and make Jesus Christ our one and only and not one of many. We cannot delude ourselves into thinking that we can carry out the great commission without abiding in our vine, Jesus Christ. Our power comes through the grapevine.