The Flow of God's Energy—Jesus Explains how to be Connected to the Vine

Andrew Fountain
Sun, 2020-03-15

Video cover image by Bernt RostadCC BY 2.0

  • At the very centre of Christ’s last hours of teaching comes an idea that is striking and life transforming.
  • To enhance its vividness, and help it to stick, the thoughts are laid out in semi-poetic form.
  • They are like two beautiful flowers, with leaves around the outside, and vivid blooms in the middle.
  • If Jesus has chosen to express himself in this way, we need to give attention and listen!
  • If you have trouble viewing this video, you can try watching it directly on Vimeo
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Sermon Outline - The Flow of God’s Energy—Jesus Explains how to be Connected to the Vine


  • To receive Jesus’ teaching on
    How to have victory in the Christian life

Plan for today

  1. The True Vine and the Branches
  2. How to Live Connected to the Vine
  3. Our Response

Structure of John

”Book of Signs”
”Book of Glory”

John 13–21 “Book of Glory”

13 A meal with the disciples

14–17 New Teaching
      from Jesus
to the disciples
18–20 Arrest

21 A meal with the disciples

Last 3 weeks:

  • Jesus —The God who will Wash your Feet and
    Love you to the End
  • The care. empathy and unselfishness of Jesus, and that
    the Father is just like Jesus
  • An invitation to step into
    the same love as is between Jesus & the Father

1. The True Vine and the Branches

John 15:1–6 The True Vine

  1. I am the true vine and my Father is the gardener.
  2. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit, he cleans away.
and every branch that bears fruit, he cleans [prunes] so that it will bear more fruit.
  1. You are already clean because of the word that I have spoken to you.
  2. Dwell in me, and I will dwell in you.

        or you cannot possibily bear fruit!

Just as the branch has no power to bear fruit by itself,
unless it dwells in the vine,
so neither can you (bear fruit)
unless you dwell in me.
  1. I am the vine;
    you are the branches.
The one who dwells in me, and I in them
bears much fruit,
because apart from me
you have no power to accomplish anything.
  1. If anyone does not dwell in me,
they are thrown out like a branch, and dry up;
and such branches are gathered up and thrown into the fire, and are burned up.

Translation by Andrew Fountain

  • These 6 verses are in semi-poetic form
  • like a beautiful flower, with leaves around the outside, and a colorful bloom in the middle
    • Verses 4 and 5 are the bloom in the middle
  • I’ve made a little animation to show the bloom opening up—I hope this works!
  • First let’s look at the surrounding leaves in v.1–3 and 6
  • Some people call this the “parable of the vine”
    • It is very vivid and clear, even to non-farmers like us
  • Dwell is a key word. It could be translated
    • abide, remain, reside, stay
    • I have used dwell because it links into the identical word in the previous chapter, where Jesus talks about himself, the Father & the Spirit “dwelling” with us.
    • Here it has the idea of “living in close connection with”
    • Also a bit of word-play with “clean” in v.2–3
  • So do you get the idea?
    • Are you ready for the flower to open?
      Not a new idea, so why re-state it?
      • So important, it is worth making it into this perfect little gem of poetic perfection
    • This little gem states the truth both positively and negatively,
      and right in the very centre, the core truth is re-stated.
  • So you might say “Andrew, I am convinced, but what on earth does it mean?”

What does it mean to “dwell” or “abide”?

  1. Dwelling/Abiding = Mystical Experience of “emptying oneself”
  2. Dwelling/Abiding = Obedience
  1. To “emptying oneself” so that the whole fullness of God can flow in
    • Unrelated to Christ’s commands
    • The proponents of this view are generally not interested in seriously studying the passage, but find in the word “abiding” a useful hook on which to hang their experiences
  2. Abiding is quite simply obedience.
    • If we are really abiding in Christ we will live in obedience to the words of Christ.
    • But there is a huge problem here
      • Only those who are abiding can obey, because we obey through the strength of Jesus flowing into us
      • So chicken and egg!
    • But must be part of the truth
  • This is exactly the question Jesus answers next

2. How to Live Connected to the Vine

John 15:7–17 - Love one Another

  1. If you dwell in me and my words dwell in you,
    ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you.
  2. My Father is honored by this, that you bear much fruit
    and show that you are my disciples.

    How I dwell in the Father is the pattern for you

  1. Just as the Father has loved me,
I have also loved you; dwell in my love.
  1. If you obey my commandments, you will dwell in my love,
just as I have obeyed my Father’s commandments and dwell in his love.
  1. These things I have told you so that my joy may be in you,
      and your joy may be complete.

        This is how…

  1. This is my commandment
to love one another just as I have loved you.
  1. Greater love has no one than this
than to lay down his life for his beloved friends.
  1. You are my beloved friends
if you do what I command you.

    Now you are with me and the Father

  1. I no longer call you servants,
  because the servant does not understand what the master is doing.
But I have called you beloved friends,
  because I have revealed to you everything I heard from my Father.
  1. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you
    to go and bear fruit, fruit that remains [dwells],
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.
  1. This I command you—to love one another.

Translation by Andrew Fountain

  • These 11 verses are also in semi-poetic form
  • like another beautiful flower, with leaves around the outside, and three colorful blooms in the middle
    • Verses 7 & 8 are the starting leaves
      • and 16–17 the ending
  • I’ve made another little animation
  • First let’s look at the surrounding leaves in v.7–8
    • I have summarized the three central messages. We’ll open them up in a minute
    • read verses and skip over centre -Can you see how this makes sense?
  • Now the flowers can open
    • v.9–11 This is the foundational principle. He has modeled it for us
    • v.15 This is the result, invited into the relationship
  • I’m trying to build the suspense
    • What is it that v.12–14 contain?
    • Some nice, simple formula for us?
    • Oh dear, quite a challenge!
  • Read it all again

3. Our Response

  • I am going to have to say “to be continued”
    • But I am going to give you a clue
    • It does involve the Holy Spirit
  • But want to challenge you to love like Jesus did
    • His love for us was so pleasing to the Father, it was linked to power flowing from the Father
  • Very well known, e.g. in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics

Abide with Me

Henry Lyte was left an orphan at the age of nine and was taken in by a kind Irish pastor who had five children of his own, he took Henry in and provided well for him. Henry followed in his adopted father’s footsteps, attended Trinity College in Dublin, and became an ordained minister.

There was a lot of sickness at that time, and Henry and his wife Anna gave themselves to taking care of the sick. Henry became ill with tuberculosis and was not expected to live much longer. At the age of 54, Henry prepared a farewell sermon for the morning of September 4, 1847 which included the lyrics of Abide With Me. Henry Lyte passed away 10 weeks after preaching this farewell sermon.

Don’t hear the words as depressing, but feel the complete peace of someone who knows they are bathed in the love of Jesus.

Abide with me; fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide;
When other helpers fail and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me.

Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day;
Earth’s joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see—
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.

I need Thy presence every passing hour;
What but Thy grace can foil the tempter’s pow’r?
Who, like Thyself, my guide and stay can be?
Through cloud and sunshine, Lord, abide with me.

I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless;
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness;
Where is death’s sting? Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me.

Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes;
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies;
Heav’n’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee;
In life, in death, O Lord, abide with me.

This is the secret of Victory

  1. If you dwell in me and my words dwell in you,
    ask whatever you want, and it will be done for you
  2. If you obey my commandments, you will dwell in my love
  3. This is my commandment
    to love one another just as I have loved you.
  • This is in you already through the Spirit
  • Chose to allow this love to flow out of you,
    and you will experience the love of God flowing into you

Updated on 2020-03-15 by Andrew Fountain