Be Fruitful

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5)

So how does Jesus change lives? I hope to get a glimpse of it in the coming weeks. We will be following Jesus—listening to him teach and watching him work. We will hear him invite his followers to change; we will see him change lives.

This week, I want to start at the end—the end of a life changed by Jesus. Among the different metaphors Jesus uses to describe this kind of life is the metaphor of fruit. Jesus says that, when it’s all said and done, His followers will be known because they bear fruit and that it’s good fruit. What does he mean? We’ll talk about that this morning. In the meantime, for your reading enjoyment, I thought I’d give you a little bit of useless fruit information from our friends over at

• Botanically speaking, cucumbers, tomatoes, peas, corn, beans and peppers are all fruit.
• Botanically speaking, raspberries and blackberries are not actually berries, but tomatoes and avocados are.
• According to superstition in the UK, it’s unwise to pick blackberries after 9/29, because after this date they’ve been claimed by the devil.
• The apple originated in Central Asia in regions including modern-day Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
• Bananas and oranges both originated in Southeast Asia.
• Alexander the Great is credited with the “discovery” of dwarf apples in Asia Minor and bananas in India.
• According to mythology, an apple is the indirect cause of the Trojan War.
• Despite popular misconception, Genesis doesn’t say that the “forbidden fruit” is an apple. Perhaps the idea arose from the fact that, in Latin, the words for apple and evil are the same in the plural (mala).
• In a number of languages, the orange is known as “the Chinese apple.”
• The navel orange was first grown in the 19th century at a Brazilian monastery.
• The world’s leading producer of fresh fruit is India, followed by Vietnam.
• The world’s leading producer of tropical fruit is the Philippines.
• The difference between jam and jelly is that, in jelly preparation, the fruit pulp is filtered out.

Now that you’re ready to go on Jeopardy, let’s look at what really matters. What does Jesus mean when talks about fruit? And how fruitful are you and I? And what must we do to bear fruit? Thanks for joining us for worship.

Not Fit For Church

Today you will hear a story not fit for church. Which is ironic, because if it weren’t for this story, our church would not exist. Neither would any church, for that matter. But honestly, in some ways the story of the crucifixion has very little place in our church atmosphere. Think about it. Just stop from your reading for a moment and take a look around you. What do you see?

I’m imagining you seated in a pew before the beginning of our worship service. Light from the three large windows fills the room. Perhaps there is a buzz of conversation taking place around you, punctuated by the occasional squeal from a baby. People are laughing and greeting one another with hugs and slaps on the back. Children are talking to each other while their parents are herding them to their seats. Colorful slides are rotating on the screen at the front—pictures of parties and baby showers and other joyful events.

What in the world does this place have to do with Golgotha, the place of the skull, the scene of the crucifixion? How can we possibly be expected to confront the savagery of a place like that while seated in a place like this? How can we possibly hear the screams of agony that come from Christ, and the screams of derision that come from his persecutors, and the cries of sorrow that come from his family and friends while we are here in this room filled with gentle voices?

And I will not mention the horrible sights. There is a reason that Mel Gibson’s movie was Rated R. These sights are difficult to process when we are surrounded by neatly manicured people dressed in vibrant Sunday clothing.

Nevertheless, today I will talk about the crucifixion. Not in grisly detail. Actually I don’t plan on dwelling on the physical aspects of Jesus’ death at all. I’m much more interested in the spiritual nature of it and what that means for us.

But don’t be fooled. The spiritual details aren’t pretty either. They, too, are hardly fit for church-at least the spiritually sanitized church that you and I generally prefer. The spiritual situation that brought about the events of Jesus’ death are not easy to talk about or sit with. In examining the crucifixion, we are confronted with the worst of human nature. If we sit back and ask ourselves, “How did it come to this—the execution of an innocent (a perfectly innocent) man?” then we are confronted by the sin that we all carry around with us.

But there is good news. In the midst of the spiritual and physical horror there is more than enough love. If there weren’t, then Jesus would have never been crucified. We’ll talk more about it this morning.