“This Fruit Won’t Spoil”
John 15: 9-17
Sunday, May 6, 2018
St. Timothy’s UMC- Rev. Mark M. Vickers
John 15:9-17 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants[a] any longer, because the servant[b] does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.
I don’t know about all of you, but our kitchen contains a hospice ward! A place where good fruit goes to die. It’s in the right hand corner, the side of the kitchen the sink is on. A beautiful banana hanger, a nice bowl for oranges or the “literally forgotten fruit” the apple may rest until the day it makes its way to the cemetery at the end of our stove known as the trashcan. Why, are we as humans so concerned about the way we keep things alive ? Why do we set aside a place in our kitchen to have perfectly healthy fruit, age into the process of decomposition just so we can say we “have fresh fruit” when our friends ask? Or maybe, it’s because we aren’t real sure what to do with the fruit when we get it!
Of course, we all did well in health and PE class, we understand the nature of the food triangle. The importance of fresh fruit in our diets. The nutritional value of fruit that works for the good of our bodies, yet somehow, someway, when the fruit makes it from the grocery bag to our kitchen counters, we forget about it! All of the value just goes out the window.
Now I realize, I’m talking about my house! Maybe and hopefully you are much better than we are! That you see the importance of consuming the fruits before they enter that state of mold, green, and squishy!
In our Gospel reading this morning we almost have to go back to verse 1 in Chapter 15 to gain the understanding of the fruit and the message it contains in this Gospel text. But, when we jump into the middle of the text this morning, we see that Jesus has woven this theme tightly throughout the verses to remind us, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” (v. 9) We have to remember that the context of this text is instructions to the disciples! Jesus is working to prepare them for the work ahead. We must understand that in this text Jesus considers his disciples not merely disciples, they are not strangers nor servants: they are friends!
It’s like having that best friend in grade school. The one you would tell everything to and know they would not tell it to anyone. It’s having the friend you can trust, for what Jesus reminds his disciples, “I have made known to you everything...” (John 15:15). It’s important that we understand this relationship with Jesus and the disciples because it has bearing on how we see “our fruit”!
I don’t know about you, but every once in awhile when I go to the grocery store, some item not on my list may “jump into my cart.” It is a surprise when I get home (ha, ha...). It is usually something that neither one of us needs, but loves! Salted Carmel ice cream, chocolate covered strawberries, you know the list of “jumpers.” We know good and well they didn’t jump into our cart unwillingly, but that you chose them! It’s interesting here again in the text of the morning, and rather unnerving that Jesus has chosen the disciples to do the work of God, to bear fruit. Jesus is absolutely clear about this, “you did not choose me but I chose you,” (John 15:16).
This is the emerging beauty of this text, of this Gospel message that we as Christians must be ready to receive a gift we did not choose, that we did not create. We, as the disciples, have been chosen to be the bearers of this gift! To bear fruit that will last! Oooooh, fruit that will last? After reading this text over the past couple of weeks, I enter Harris Teeter or Lowe’s Foods with a different mind set.
Simply because the message of this text is that there is responsibility attached to this job of bearing fruit. Not only are we to do it, but we are to bear “fruit that will last.”
Okay, the short-sighted fruits: ripe bananas, brown grapes, mushy lemons. These fall on the “short list” of short-sightedness, selfish interests masked as the work of the Church, raw ambition disguised as false humility in service of God. The list can be as long as we want it to be! Those my friends are the fruits that will not last and that the church cannot be built upon.
So what are our long-sided fruits? Making wise decisions and choices for the work of and on behalf of God. One commentator put it this way, “It means acting thoughtfully over a life time; discerning what thoughts, words, and actions best serve the intentions of a loving God in this world, most clearly seen in the figure of the Risen Christ.”
My friends, as we continue to build upon the Kingdom of God on this earth, we will have a lot of fruit from which to choose. As I said earlier, I look at real fruit with a different view; what is not going to spoil before I eat it or cook with it? I suggest that we begin to look at our Christian lives with the same intensity. What things, actions, progress and commitments are we going to choose to do in order that we “can bear fruit that will last”? What commitments are we going to make along with our unconditional love for one another that will illuminate the Kingdom of God for people in this community? For people in your lives?
I’m pretty sure that I don’t want to pick some short-lived fruit with the hope that it “might” remain fresh when I can make a huge decisive commitment that may change the course of my faith and the faith of others! Don’t let your fruit spoil! Make good use of it! Make it ripen to the course of action in order that Jesus Christ can be revealed to the fullest!
For it is for this basic reason that we admonish the fruits that we bear and this becomes crystal clear in the verse 17, “I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another!”
That my friends is the Good News of Jesus Christ! AMEN & AMEN