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“Abide in Me”, John 15:1-8 / April 28th, 2024 / Fifth Sunday of Easter / Hope Lutheran Church, Rev. Lucas Andre Albrecht

Text: John 15:1-8
Theme: “Abide in Me”


Intr – Imagine a person who became very invested in giving access to food to as many people as he noticed many families struggling to survive in his neighborhood. He then came up with an idea: he started giving Grocery Store free tickets worth a month of food. However, later it was found that the stamps he was giving he made himself; he printed them at home. They did not come from the local Grocery Store. The result was predictable: Even though he might have had all the best intentions in the world, his action ended up being nothing, because the tickets were not connected to the authentic source of them. In the Gospel today, Jesus says: “abide in me, for without me you can do nothing”. “Connected to me you can bear much fruit”. What is the importance of this word of Jesus for our life in our world?


First, it gives us purpose. Ever thought about what gets you out of bed in the morning? Maybe it’s making a difference, or just being there for your family and friends. Perhaps work, or a project, or a goal. Now, notice how all of these are related to doing something, acting, being out there. While it is important to take action in life, before we go running about to do stuff, Jesus’ words call us to remember who we are. From the Christian standpoint, a purposeful living starts with being. One of the first things that abiding in Jesus gives you is purpose. Because before you do something, you are reminded you are someone. And not just “someone”. You are someone in which God abides.

Think about it. How many people out there are considered “gods” in their area, and people would pay lots of money and spend lots of time just to be close to them and perhaps be worthy of a minute of their attention? Famous sports players, politicians, actors, you name… Jesus is saying, and John is confirming that as you are in him, He abides in you. “God is love and whoever abides in love, abides in God, and God in Him”. No matter who you are and where you live, when you are someone – a branch connected to the vine – you have God abiding in you. The Creator of the Universe, the Triune God, the only one who is really God, abides in you. Yes, right there, in yourself, in your heart.

Don’t take that for granted. The devil will come and try to sow doubt. “Really? Look at you. The life you live. The things you’ve done. Do you really believe that God, God Himself, would abide in you?” Tell him, “It is not my promise, it is His”. He abides in you. In a world trying to assign you value for what you have or what you do in the first place, bear this first and foremost inside your heart: Jesus abides in you.



Next, abiding in Christ leads us to bear fruit. As Lutherans we know, faith saves alone. There is nothing you can do to merit His love. It is 100% Grace. However, faith is never alone! Here comes the “Do it part. When you know who you are and who abides in you – God Himself – there is no way you’ll stay idle! When we abide in Christ, we bear the fruit of the spirit. It is a multifaceted fruit; love, gentleness, kindness, self-control… Fruits that benefit us, benefit others, benefit the world. Love, joy, peace, and all that good stuff. And let me tell you, the world could use a lot of that.

This is how Martin Luther expresses this relationship about believing and acting:

Now, here’s an unpopular teaching trigger alert, connected to the opening illustration: you cannot do any God-pleasing deed outside of Jesus, for God is pleased with us in Jesus. “Without me you can do nothing”. Not only when it comes to salvation – which is 100% Jesus’ and 0% ours. It connects to our faith active in love. Whatever any person does in life, if it is outside of Christ, it is not pleasing to God, for it is impossible to please God without faith, that is, cut off from the Vine. True Works of love are the ones that come from the true source of love – Jesus.

We act out of love. John makes it clear in the epistle. Faith is active in love. There is a historian who reported people from the society getting to know the Church in a unique way for the way in which they treated each other. What would it look like if our society looked at us and said, “Wow, that is certainly a different kind of group, you can tell by the way they treat each other?” What are we doing that could lead them to say that? What are we not doing that could be done in order to be perceived as such? God abides in us. God is love. This love prompts us to action, to selfless acts of love for one another and for the World. This leads me to the third point,



Abiding in Jesus gives us connection. Jesus’ message about branches being connected to Him we usually get pretty clear. What we often miss, though, is the importance of the branch-to-branch relationship. Because, you know, Jesus is not an individual stem for each individual branch. He is one vine, to which ALL the branches are connected. Community. Interconnectedness. Jesus has grafted all of us in Him so that we live a life together.

I heard the story of the pastor who had this new member in her congregation, a lady in her 40s, who needed to undergo cancer treatment. He visited her at the hospital, and around her, on the wall, dozens of “Get well” like cards. Her eyes welled in tears as she mentioned to the pastor: “I just arrived at the congregation, they barely know me!” As the pastor replied: “Yes, but you are our family now!” Jesus encourages us to recognize the importance of our connections and relationships with others. Our family of faith.

Perhaps we should ask ourselves these questions on a regular basis: How do we foster healthy and supportive relationships in our modern, digitally-driven lives? How do we make sure that our interactions lift us up and help us grow, as well as those around us? And this topic connects me with my next one:



Abiding in Jesus connects to self-care. And this point may be one that may not occur to us when we read this passage. I think you probably never read this passage and thought of self-care, right? I know, talking about self-care just doesn’t seem to go with the vine and the branches, life in community. The first image that comes to mind is bubble baths and Netflix marathons. (Depending on the context, self-care may be just a license to be selfish without guilt). However, the vine and the branches connect to the definition of self-care in a Christian perspective.

First, because it talks about Jesus taking care of every branch. But at the same time, it speaks to the communal nature and perspective of our life of faith. We exist as Christians because we are connected to the body of Christ – His Church. For us Christians, self-care isn’t just about a day in a spa or a therapeutic massage. When we think about self-care in the context of faith, we think about soul care. And soul care is not done in private only. But it is about nourishing our souls and taking care of each other too. Why do we do self-care after all: because we want to be well to be good and loving people around us. Self-care and whole care go hand in hand in the Vine of the Lord. By being with other people it influences our self-care under Christ and the Word.

When we take care of ourselves, we benefit the community of believers. And vice versa. Nourishing our souls and caring for others go hand in hand. By prioritizing spiritual nourishment and communal support, we strengthen ourselves and our community.

So, these are also good questions for us to think about: how can we cultivate habits of spiritual nourishment in the community amid busy schedules and competing demands? How can we create space for rest, reflection, and rejuvenation in the community to sustain our growth and resilience in the face of life’s challenges?

“Abide in me”, is Jesus’ word. Like Musical Instruments, that need to be constantly tuned; like Families, who need constant proximity to maintain relationships; like broken vessels, that need to remain under the tap, we need to remain connected to Him. The verb meno, abide, in Greek here suggests abiding persistently and intimately. This is what Jesus offers to us. God abides in us, and we abide in Him, so that we can bear fruit, be connected to others and help each other in practicing soul care that will impact our self-care.

Cc – Now, imagine if a person who received one of those monthly fake food basket tickets giveaways actually went to that Grocery Store to convert it into food? And then, some Christians working there, touched by the dire situation of that family, decided to pool together to provide them with food for the month? That would be truly a fruit of faith, of people who know who they are, abiding in Jesus, so that they act out of love. They are connected to the authentic source of it and in Him, they bear much fruit. Now, Jesus looked at you with compassion when he saw you with fake works stamps, trying to please good disconnected from Him. He took our fake works and nailed them on His Cross, and gave back to us food, nourishment, and sustenance for our heart and life. And the best part of it? Not only for a month. As we abide in Him, his nourishment is for life. And beyond.



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