Christ's Greatest Sermon

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by Dr. Russell A. Primrose, 7/30/12

Contents

Background

A group of Jewish young man was simply looking forward to observing Passover in the upper room. They had figured out that their mentor and leader was the Messiah. They were ecstatic. They had seen the crowds rejoicing with adoration as He entered into Jerusalem. They had seen Him feed over 5000 people on several different occasions. They expected him to set up his kingdom here on earth and they had a front-row seat. They had even been arguing on several occasions as to who would have a place of influence in the new Kingdom. Two even allowed their Jewish Mother to lobby for a position for each; one on the right hand and one on the left hand of the Savoir. Many had invested over three years of their life to reach this point.

But then the whole evening began to come to pieces. Christ indicated (John 14:2) that he was “going away" so that He could prepare a place for them. He mentioned that he was going to die. He took a towel and some water and proceeded to wash their feet. Leaders do not wash the feet of their followers! Peter rebuked him but was admonished that he, himself, would have to submit to have a place with Christ. As they left the upper room, His followers were totally discouraged. They were so disillusioned that they could not even pray with Christ for one hour when they finally reached Gethsemane. They crossed the Kidron valley and climbed the eastern side toward the garden.

Christ stopped at a vineyard and delivered probably His most outstanding teaching yet. After all, if you knew that within hours you would be arrested, and within days you would be dead what would you say to this discouraged group of your followers. Wouldn't this be the most focused, poignant sermon of your ministry? Wouldn't you put the whole essence of your ministry into the next few sentences?

The Sermon

As He stopped at the vineyard He paused and defined his terms (John 15:1-6). He pointed out that he was the vine, his father was the vine dresser and we are the branches. The vine is that stump protruding from the ground about three to five feet and often very old. The vine dresser is the caretaker, one of whose major job is the picking up of the branches that stray to the ground, cleaning them off, and tying them to a support system. The branches are where the fruit grows, but it will not grow unless the branch is supported and the very essence of Christ flows through them. It leans heavily upon that support system.

In His sermon He gives each of us two personal choices:

  • 1.) To remain in Him, or
  • 2.) To remove ourselves from Him, in which case we shrivel, dry up, and die. Then we are pulled away, taken up, and burned.

In for those of us who choose to remain in Christ with His spirit and juices flowing through us, He gives us four levels of attainment.

  • Level I is us struggling to, but not producing fruit, until we are lifted up and supported,
  • Level II is after we produce fruit he prunes us so that, at
  • Level III we produce more fruit. He then leads us to the
  • Level IV, where we produce much fruit.

Escaping Level I is probably the key to this whole sermon. The Greek verb “airo” is most often translated “to lift up”, and is the same verb used when the disciples picked up 12 baskets of leftovers when the 5000 were fed. Wilkerson[1] makes quite a case for this transition in his book “Secrets of the Vine”. In this description of the branches, it is apparent that we cannot produce fruit until we are lifted up and tied into Christ’s support system. As we learn to lean, Christ’s essence can flow through us, and we can produce fruit—which seems to be the objective of Christ' desire for our lives.

There is a song that says “Learning to Lean on Jesus”. This concept of leaning on God I think is the important essence of this sermon. What emotions are prevalent when you find yourself leaning on God? Sometimes God just says “don’t just do something, stand there!", and let Him work. Wasn't that the main point of His first miracle, which was the turning of the water into wine?

In the course of our lives we find ourselves involved in the many trials of life. As we learn to lean upon the Lord we submit a number of the areas of our life to Him.

  • 1.) As we submit our individuality, self-will, and our inclination for rebellion to Him, we learn to communicate with God by prayer, fasting, by talking to Him, by listening to Him, by meditating upon Him, and reading His word.
  • 2.) As we release our right to retaliate or to take revenge, we learn to forgive.
  • 3.) As we submit our bashfulness, and insecurity to Him, we learn to witness, to go, and to evangelize,
  • 4.) As we submit our need to control, we learn humility, and to be of service to others.
  • 5.) As we give to God our sense of security and share our material possessions, we learn to develop a generous hand.

Grief

As we suffer the intense pain of grief, what other choice do we have but to lean heavily upon the Lord for support? The Bible portrays Christ as "a man of sorrow and acquainted with grief". I do not know what His grief was, but I do know that his father is not mentioned during the years of his ministry. If his father were alive he would never have entrusted his mother to the care of John from the cross. The Bible also says that on occasion Christ looked out over Jerusalem and wept. I think that he is uniquely qualified to help us in our times of intense grief and great sorrow.

Forgiveness

The Lord has claimed the right to vengeance, when he says "vengeance is mine saith the Lord. I will repay". When we pray the Lord's prayer we make a covenant that the Lord is only to forgive us as we forgive others. This sentiment is reiterated several verses later as he points out the importance of forgiveness in that prayer. As we relinquish our perceived to right for vengeance and retaliation we have to lean upon the Lord for strength to do so, since this is not the usual human reaction.

Tithe and Finance

We have to lean on the Lord when we are developing the habit of sharing our wealth to the extent that God has blessed us, and we have been so blessed. The Psalmist said that he has never seen the righteous forsaken or his offspring begging bread (Psalms 37:25). What a promise. God has promised us an immense blessing if we can trust Him for our support and give back what is already His. Only as we study and practice this concept, will God be able to greatly bless you.

Other areas

There are so many areas in our life that if we are to be fruitful we must learn how to lean upon the Lord. We must lean in order to bear fruit. All of the fruits mentioned in Galatians are the results of us reaching out to other people, and we have already learned that to do that successfully we must learn to lean upon the Lord. Let us develop this concept as we find those many areas in our life where we must learn to lean upon the Lord to be fruitful.

MindMap

References

  1. Wilkinson, Bruce, Secretes of the Vine, Multnomah Publishers, Inc. PO box 1720, Sisters, Oregon, 97759
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