Audio Sermon “God's Miniature”

Nov 20, 2016
Japanese and English Joint Service:

“God's Miniature" No. 14a by Rev. Toru Asai
John 15:1-17, Ruth 1-2, etc.

Be imitators of God, therefore, as dearly loved children and live a life of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph 5:1-2)


I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener (John 15:1).

From the time of creation, this universe is moving toward harvest. God is the source of life, and everything that has life in it grows into maturity bearing fruit, which is the goal and fulfilment of life. To explain this, the Bible often uses a tree like a vine describing the rising and growing of a nation as well as its destruction as uprooting, deserting, or throwing it on the fire.

You brought a vine out of Egypt; you drove out the nations and planted it. You cleared the ground for it, and it took root and filled the land (Ps 80:8-9).

Israel is a vine that was brought from Egypt and planted in the Promised Land. God took care of it and expected that it would bear fruit.

He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines. He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well. Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit (Isa 5:2).

Note that God wanted good fruit—"a crop of good grapes," but since it did not yield good fruit, he had to cut it down and burn it.

Fire spread from one of its main branches and consumed its fruit. No strong branch is left on it fit for a ruler's scepter. This is a lament and is to be used as a lament (Ezek 19:14).

This was how Israel as a vine was destroyed and burned. Yet, its stump was kept. Although it was scorched badly and looked dead, from the stump came "a righteous Branch."

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD (Isa 11:1-2)--

This new "Branch" grew up to be a wonderful tree, and it is the vine in John 15. The vine is Jesus Christ, the famer the Father, and we are the branches. What does the Father want? He wants fruit—"a crop of good grapes."

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 (John 15:2-3).

To prune means to clean up the tree by cutting off the branches that are old and not necessary, and the idea is the same as sanctifying it through discipline, especially with the word of God in this case.

Remain in me, and I will remain in you (lit. Remain in me, so I 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 (v. 4).

To "remain," "meno," in Greek means to stay or live continually, and in Hebrew, the similar idea is expressed by "amad," to keep standing. The important nuance in these words is to hold on to something by not giving up. A good example is seen in the story of Ruth who clung to Naomi by following her to Bethlehem, and to Boaz by standing persistently with little rest until he showed up and then by continually gleaning in his field. Out of her came the fruit, which brought David and our Messiah.

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