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John 15:9-15


I am the Vine (k):
Receiving the sap - Receiving Christ’s love.


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Let's read John 15:9-15

9 “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10 If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.


We are in the middle of a mini-series looking at what Jesus said that will help us receive the sap – and move us closer to his heart.

Display ‘us in Christ’ picture.


We saw in verse 5: We must learn to depend on Christ more.

Then in verse 7: We must not neglect God’s words.


Today we are looking at verse 9: In order to remain in Christ’s love we must learn how to receive it.) From verse 10 we could say the answer is simple: If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love. But obedience perhaps needs a study of its own, so we’ll look at that next time.


For now we will look at verse 9 by itself: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.


Perhaps our response is ‘Thank you for loving me, thank you for dying for me, but I’m ok now so could you just let me get on with my Christian life for a bit. It’s hard enough without all these extra things we keep being told we have to do.’


But the subjects we’ve looked at so far are not extras, they are fundamental. And of these, prayer and bible study are important, but receiving Christ’s love is vital: children who grow up deprived of love, become stunted.


If we are to grow as Christians we have to receive Christ’s love.


Before we go any further we need firstly to look at John 15:13-15


13 Greater love has no-one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command. 15 I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.


What does it mean to be a friend? Let me describe two scenarios:


Suppose the Pastor and his wife have gone on holiday and a well-known speaker is coming to preach. The Church Secretary phones you on Saturday evening. She says ‘I really didn’t want to trouble you but I haven’t been able to get hold of anyone else. I was going to have the visiting speaker and his wife to lunch but I’ve just had a phone call and I’ve got to go to London tonight. Could you entertain him please?’


‘Of course’, you say – then start to panic! A little FUD creeps in (Fear Uncertainty and Doubt)


You get to church early enough to greet the Preacher, show him where things are, take him into the vestry to pray with him, sit with his wife, take them a coffee afterwards and then take them home.


The meal turns out fine, you get on quite well, you take them to the station, and return home and breathe a sigh of relief.


Now a different scenario:


Again the phone rings on Saturday evening, but this time from very good friends.

They say they have to be in your area unexpectedly tomorrow. They hope to be down in time to get to church and will meet you there. Any chance of some lunch? ‘Of course’ you say – then start to panic! But there’s no Fear, Uncertainty or Doubt. Rather pleasure and excitement. Display:



Now look at: Romans 1:1

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus,


And James 1:1

James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ,


And 2 Peter 1:1

Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,


Did you know that nowhere in the New Testament does anyone refer to themselves as friends of Jesus? Servants, yes; apostles, yes; but not friends. Yet that is precisely the relationship Jesus wants with us.


He has taken us into his confidence; he has demonstrated how much he loves us. He has called us his friends. He wants our friendship.


Do we really regard ourselves as a friend of Jesus?

If Jesus refers to us as friends, why do we shrink from accepting it?


But he actually wants more than that.


We finished last time with a passage for meditation. We’re not going to have a test, but if anyone had a go they may have had some thoughts from the first half of the first verse

which was?


1 John 3:1

1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!


Would anyone like to share their thoughts on this passage?


(How great sounds like a question: How great is the Father’s love? And the answer comes immediately: that he lavished on us! A superabundant love, immeasurable, no holding back. A weak example would be a mother or father holding their new-born baby for the first time. At that point there is nothing the parent would not do or give for that child. And that is what we are! God holds us in his hands and lavishes his love on us.)


If that’s how the Father loves us, how much does he love Jesus?


Now look at our passage again (Verse 9)


Jesus says: As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love.


Why does he love me? Because I am good enough? No!

Because I deserve it? No!

However unworthy I may feel, and however undeserving I may be, the fact remains that I am the object of his immeasurable love. I may as well get used to the fact!


Can I stop the sun from shining on me? No – it’s impossible to stop it, but I can hide from it.

Can Jesus ever stop pouring his love into our hearts? No but often we fail to receive it.


Perhaps we may feel that we still have some sin from the past that will never allow us to fully receive his love. Let me read you Hebrews 10:22 from the New Living Translation:


22 let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water.


Christ’s love has dealt with sin, once and for all. So the first step in receiving Christ’s love is to agree with God that I am his beloved child. Remember our meditation?


1 John 3:1

1 How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!


So I’d like us to affirm that now, out loud. We are all going to say ‘I am God’s beloved child’ But I want us to repeat it three times, the first time emphasizing ‘beloved’, the second time ‘God’s’ and the third time ‘I’. After that we’ll spend a few moments in silent prayer. If it helps, try to imagine a baby held in the arms of a loving parent.

If it helps, display the three phrases with words in bold as follows:

Repeat:

I am God’s beloved child

I am God’s beloved child

I am God’s beloved child


Now is our opportunity to consciously receive Christ’s love: Let’s pray silently.

Silent prayer

Then read:

Ephesians 3:16-19

16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.


And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,


19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.


Amen





John 15j John 15l NIV Copyright