A God of love who Judges – Sermon on John 15:1-8 (Easter 5, Year B)
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. John 15:1-8 [NIV]
A God of Love Who Judges
One of the other readings for today is 1John 4:7-21 on the theme ‘God is love’. It’s a very popular reading with a nice cosy message. The Gospel reading, quoting Jesus directly, is much more challenging. Jesus says that we can be fruitful if we stay connected to Him, but he says that without Him we can do NOTHING, and will be fit only for burning. Many struggle with this teaching. How can a God of love reject, judge and punish people, they ask?
…we must remember that such questions are self-centred. God loves all people and wishes all to be saved, yet we know that many others are suffering because of our wealth. Surely God will be angry with those who oppress and exploit the people He loves? We can argue that it’s not our fault, but that doesn’t change the reality.
…I’m not sure that God does reject anyone. Abraham said “Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?” when God was considering destroying Sodom [Gen 18:25]. God has sent Jesus to enable all to be saved, but will all accept Jesus?
Remember the ABC of becoming a Christian, a follower of Jesus?
- Admit your sin – many say and will say “I don’t need forgiveness, I’ve done nothing wrong”.
- Believe in Christ – many reject Jesus as not the only way to God, not the Christ; they see Jesus as just a good man or a prophet or they don’t think him important.
- I have little fear for the devout of other faiths; I think that someone who has sincerely sought God will have no trouble recognising the Christ.
- I do worry that those who have ignored God all their lives will not be able to change their habits, that they won’t be able to look past themselves.
- Commit your life to Him – many refuse to commit or surrender to Christ. In the West, people see their own individuality as paramount and they will not give up control to anyone, will not be in debt to anyone (except those we exploit, of course!) and want to stay in control of their ‘own’ lives.
…let us be reassured of God’s mercy to us. None of us is in God’s presence because we deserve to be, or because of our own righteousness. We are ‘clean’ because the word from Jesus has made us so, and that word is ‘forgiveness’.
We can trust in Jesus our saviour and Lord. I have no need to say more. I have no time to say any more as we need to thank God and lift so many in need to him. Amen