"Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled"
[This chapter is based on John 13:31-38; 14-17.]
Looking upon His disciples with divine love and with the tenderest
sympathy, Christ said, "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is
glorified in Him." Judas had left the upper chamber, and Christ was
alone with the eleven. He was about to speak of His approaching
separation from them; but before doing this He pointed to the great
object of His mission. It was this that He kept ever before Him. It was
His joy that all His humiliation and suffering would glorify the
Father's name. To this He first directs the thoughts of His disciples.
Then addressing them by the endearing term, "Little
children," He said, "Yet a little while I am with you. Ye
shall seek Me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot
come; so now I say to you."
The disciples could not rejoice when they heard this. Fear fell upon
them. They pressed close about the Saviour. Their Master and Lord, their
beloved Teacher and Friend, He was dearer to them than life. To Him they
had looked for help in all their difficulties, for comfort in their
sorrows and disappointments. Now He was to leave them, a lonely,
dependent company. Dark were the forebodings that filled their hearts.
But the Saviour's words to them were full of hope. He knew that they
were to be assailed by the enemy, and that Satan's craft is most
successful against those who are depressed by difficulties. Therefore He
pointed them away from "the things which are seen," to
"the things which are not seen." 2 Cor. 4:18. From earthly
exile He turned their thoughts to the heavenly home.
"Let not your heart be troubled," He said; "ye believe
in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions: if
it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive
you unto Myself; that were I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go
ye know, and the way ye know." For your sake I came into the world.
I am working in your behalf. When I go away, I shall still work
earnestly for you. I came into the world to reveal Myself to you, that
you might believe. I go to the Father to co-operate with Him in your
behalf. The object of Christ's departure was the opposite of what the
disciples feared. It did not mean a final separation. He was going to
prepare a place for them, that He might come again, and receive them
unto Himself. While He was building mansions for them, they were to
build characters after the divine similitude.
Still the disciples were perplexed. Thomas, always troubled by
doubts, said, "Lord, we know not whither Thou goest; and how can we
know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the
life; no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me. If ye had known Me, ye
should have known My Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and
have seen Him."
There are not many ways to heaven. Each one may not choose his own
way. Christ says, "I am the way: . . . no man cometh unto the
Father, but by Me." Since the first gospel sermon was preached,
when in Eden it was declared that the seed of the woman should bruise
the serpent's head, Christ had been uplifted as the way, the truth, and
the life. He was the way when Adam lived, when Abel presented to God the
blood of the slain lamb, representing the blood of the Redeemer. Christ
was the way by which patriarchs and prophets were saved. He is the way
by which alone we can have access to God.
"If ye had known Me," Christ said, "ye should have
known My Father also: and from henceforth ye know Him, and have seen
Him." But not yet did the disciples understand. "Lord, show us
the Father," exclaimed Philip, "and it sufficeth us."
Amazed at his dullness of comprehension, Christ asked with pained
surprise, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not
known Me, Philip?" Is it possible that you do not see the Father in
the works He does through Me? Do you not believe that I came to testify
of the Father? "How sayest thou then, Show us the Father?"
"He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." Christ had not
ceased to be God when He became man. Though He had humbled Himself to
humanity, the Godhead was still His own. Christ alone could represent
the Father to humanity, and this representation the disciples had been
privileged to behold for over three years.
"Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or
else believe Me for the very works' sake." Their faith might safely
rest on the evidence given in Christ's works, works that no man, of
himself, ever had done, or ever could do. Christ's work testified to His
divinity. Through Him the Father had been revealed.
If the disciples believed this vital connection between the Father
and the Son, their faith would not forsake them when they saw Christ's
suffering and death to save a perishing world. Christ was seeking to
lead them from their low condition of faith to the experience they might
receive if they truly realized what He was,--God in human flesh. He
desired them to see that their faith must lead up to God, and be
anchored there. How earnestly and perseveringly our compassionate
Saviour sought to prepare His disciples for the storm of temptation that
was soon to beat upon them. He would have them hid with Him in God.
As Christ was speaking these words, the glory of God was shining from
His countenance, and all present felt a sacred awe as they listened with
rapt attention to His words. Their hearts were more decidedly drawn to
Him; and as they were drawn to Christ in greater love, they were drawn
to one another. They felt that heaven was very near, and that the words
to which they listened were a message to them from their heavenly
"Verily, verily, I say unto you," Christ continued,
"He that believeth on Me, the works that I do shall he do
also." The Saviour was deeply anxious for His disciples to
understand for what purpose His divinity was united to humanity. He came
to the world to display the glory of God, that man might be uplifted by
its restoring power. God was manifested in Him that He might be
manifested in them. Jesus revealed no qualities, and exercised no
powers, that men may not have through faith in Him. His perfect humanity
is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in
subjection to God as He was.
"And greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto My
Father." By this Christ did not mean that the disciples' work would
be of a more exalted character than His, but that it would have greater
extent. He did not refer merely to miracle working, but to all that
would take place under the working of the Holy Spirit.
After the Lord's ascension, the disciples realized the fulfillment of
His promise. The scenes of the crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension
of Christ were a living reality to them. They saw that the prophecies
had been literally fulfilled. They searched the Scriptures, and accepted
their teaching with a faith and assurance unknown before. They knew that
the divine Teacher was all that He had claimed to be. As they told their
experience, and exalted the love of God, men's hearts were melted and
subdued, and multitudes believed on Jesus.
The Saviour's promise to His disciples is a promise to His church to
the end of time. God did not design that His wonderful plan to redeem
men should achieve only insignificant results. All who will go to work,
trusting not in what they themselves can do, but in what God can do for
and through them, will certainly realize the fulfillment of His promise.
"Greater works than these shall ye do," He declares;
"because I go unto My Father."
As yet the disciples were unacquainted with the Saviour's unlimited
resources and power. He said to them, "Hitherto have ye asked
nothing in My name." John 16:24. He explained that the secret of
their success would be in asking for strength and grace in His name. He
would be present before the Father to make request for them. The prayer
of the humble suppliant He presents as His own desire in that soul's
behalf. Every sincere prayer is heard in heaven. It may not be fluently
expressed; but if the heart is in it, it will ascend to the sanctuary
where Jesus ministers, and He will present it to the Father without one
awkward, stammering word, beautiful and fragrant with the incense of His
The path of sincerity and integrity is not a path free from
obstruction, but in every difficulty we are to see a call to prayer.
There is no one living who has any power that he has not received from
God, and the source whence it comes is open to the weakest human being.
"Whatsoever ye shall ask in My name," said Jesus, "that
will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask
anything in My name, I will do it."
"In My name," Christ bade His disciples pray. In Christ's
name His followers are to stand before God. Through the value of the
sacrifice made for them, they are of value in the Lord's sight. Because
of the imputed righteousness of Christ they are accounted precious. For
Christ's sake the Lord pardons those that fear Him. He does not see in
them the vileness of the sinner. He recognizes in them the likeness of
His Son, in whom they believe.
The Lord is disappointed when His people place a low estimate upon
themselves. He desires His chosen heritage to value themselves according
to the price He has placed upon them. God wanted them, else He would not
have sent His Son on such an expensive errand to redeem them. He has a
use for them, and He is well pleased when they make the very highest
demands upon Him, that they may glorify His name. They may expect large
things if they have faith in His promises.
But to pray in Christ's name means much. It means that we are to
accept His character, manifest His spirit, and work His works. The
Saviour's promise is given on condition. "If ye love Me," He
says, "keep My commandments." He saves men, not in sin, but
from sin; and those who love Him will show their love by obedience.
All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with
Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts
and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will,
that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. The
will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His
service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life
will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the
character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful
As Christ lived the law in humanity, so we may do if we will take
hold of the Strong for strength. But we are not to place the
responsibility of our duty upon others, and wait for them to tell us
what to do. We cannot depend for counsel upon humanity. The Lord will
teach us our duty just as willingly as He will teach somebody else. If
we come to Him in faith, He will speak His mysteries to us personally.
Our hearts will often burn within us as One draws nigh to commune with
us as He did with Enoch. Those who decide to do nothing in any line that
will displease God, will know, after presenting their case before Him,
just what course to pursue. And they will receive not only wisdom, but
strength. Power for obedience, for service, will be imparted to them, as
Christ has promised. Whatever was given to Christ--the "all
things" to supply the need of fallen men--was given to Him as the
head and representative of humanity. And "whatsoever we ask, we
receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things
that are pleasing in His sight." 1 John 3:22.
Before offering Himself as the sacrificial victim, Christ sought for
the most essential and complete gift to bestow upon His followers, a
gift that would bring within their reach the boundless resources of
grace. "I will pray the Father," He said, "and He shall
give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you forever; even the
Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him
not, neither knoweth Him: but ye know Him; for He dwelleth with you, and
shall be in you. I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you."
John 14:16-18, margin.
Before this the Spirit had been in the world; from the very beginning
of the work of redemption He had been moving upon men's hearts. But
while Christ was on earth, the disciples had desired no other helper.
Not until they were deprived of His presence would they feel their need
of the Spirit, and then He would come.
The Holy Spirit is Christ's representative, but divested of the
personality of humanity, and independent thereof. Cumbered with
humanity, Christ could not be in every place personally. Therefore it
was for their interest that He should go to the Father, and send the
Spirit to be His successor on earth. No one could then have any
advantage because of his location or his personal contact with Christ.
By the Spirit the Saviour would be accessible to all. In this sense He
would be nearer to them than if He had not ascended on high.
"He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love
him, and will manifest Myself to him." Jesus read the future of His
disciples. He saw one brought to the scaffold, one to the cross, one to
exile among the lonely rocks of the sea, others to persecution and
death. He encouraged them with the promise that in every trial He would
be with them. That promise has lost none of its force. The Lord knows
all about His faithful servants who for His sake are lying in prison or
who are banished to lonely islands. He comforts them with His own
presence. When for the truth's sake the believer stands at the bar of
unrighteous tribunals, Christ stands by his side. All the reproaches
that fall upon him, fall upon Christ. Christ is condemned over again in
the person of His disciple. When one is incarcerated in prison walls,
Christ ravishes the heart with His love. When one suffers death for His
sake, Christ says, "I am He that liveth, and was dead; and, behold,
I am alive forevermore, . . . and have the keys of hell and of
death." Rev. 1:18. The life that is sacrificed for Me is preserved
unto eternal glory.
At all times and in all places, in all sorrows and in all
afflictions, when the outlook seems dark and the future perplexing, and
we feel helpless and alone, the Comforter will be sent in answer to the
prayer of faith. Circumstances may separate us from every earthly
friend; but no circumstance, no distance, can separate us from the
heavenly Comforter. Wherever we are, wherever we may go, He is always at
our right hand to support, sustain, uphold, and cheer.
The disciples still failed to understand Christ's words in their
spiritual sense, and again He explained His meaning. By the Spirit, He
said, He would manifest Himself to them. "The Comforter, which is
the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you
all things." No more will you say, I cannot comprehend. No longer
will you see through a glass, darkly. You shall "be able to
comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth,
and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth
knowledge." Eph. 3:18, 19.
The disciples were to bear witness to the life and work of Christ.
Through their word He was to speak to all the people on the face of the
earth. But in the humiliation and death of Christ they were to suffer
great trial and disappointment. That after this experience their word
might be accurate, Jesus promised that the Comforter should "bring
all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you."
"I have yet many things to say unto you," He continued,
"but ye cannot bear them now. Howbeit when He, the Spirit of truth,
is come, He will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak of
Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will
show you things to come. He shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of
Mine, and shall show it unto you." Jesus had opened before His
disciples a vast tract of truth. But it was most difficult for them to
keep His lessons distinct from the traditions and maxims of the scribes
and Pharisees. They had been educated to accept the teaching of the
rabbis as the voice of God, and it still held a power over their minds,
and molded their sentiments. Earthly ideas, temporal things, still had a
large place in their thoughts. They did not understand the spiritual
nature of Christ's kingdom, though He had so often explained it to them.
Their minds had become confused. They did not comprehend the value of
the scriptures Christ presented. Many of His lessons seemed almost lost
upon them. Jesus saw that they did not lay hold of the real meaning of
His words. He compassionately promised that the Holy Spirit should
recall these sayings to their minds. And He had left unsaid many things
that could not be comprehended by the disciples. These also would be
opened to them by the Spirit. The Spirit was to quicken their
understanding, that they might have an appreciation of heavenly things.
"When He, the Spirit of truth, is come," said Jesus, "He
will guide you into all truth."
The Comforter is called "the Spirit of truth." His work is
to define and maintain the truth. He first dwells in the heart as the
Spirit of truth, and thus He becomes the Comforter. There is comfort and
peace in the truth, but no real peace or comfort can be found in
falsehood. It is through false theories and traditions that Satan gains
his power over the mind. By directing men to false standards, he
misshapes the character. Through the Scriptures the Holy Spirit speaks
to the mind, and impresses truth upon the heart. Thus He exposes error,
and expels it from the soul. It is by the Spirit of truth, working
through the word of God, that Christ subdues His chosen people to
In describing to His disciples the office work of the Holy Spirit,
Jesus sought to inspire them with the joy and hope that inspired His own
heart. He rejoiced because of the abundant help He had provided for His
church. The Holy Spirit was the highest of all gifts that He could
solicit from His Father for the exaltation of His people. The Spirit was
to be given as a regenerating agent, and without this the sacrifice of
Christ would have been of no avail. The power of evil had been
strengthening for centuries, and the submission of men to this satanic
captivity was amazing. Sin could be resisted and overcome only through
the mighty agency of the Third Person of the Godhead, who would come
with no modified energy, but in the fullness of divine power. It is the
Spirit that makes effectual what has been wrought out by the world's
Redeemer. It is by the Spirit that the heart is made pure. Through the
Spirit the believer becomes a partaker of the divine nature. Christ has
given His Spirit as a divine power to overcome all hereditary and
cultivated tendencies to evil, and to impress His own character upon His
Of the Spirit Jesus said, "He shall glorify Me." The
Saviour came to glorify the Father by the demonstration of His love; so
the Spirit was to glorify Christ by revealing His grace to the world.
The very image of God is to be reproduced in humanity. The honor of God,
the honor of Christ, is involved in the perfection of the character of
"When He [the Spirit of truth] is come, He will reprove the
world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." The preaching
of the word will be of no avail without the continual presence and aid
of the Holy Spirit. This is the only effectual teacher of divine truth.
Only when the truth is accompanied to the heart by the Spirit will it
quicken the conscience or transform the life. One might be able to
present the letter of the word of God, he might be familiar with all its
commands and promises; but unless the Holy Spirit sets home the truth,
no souls will fall on the Rock and be broken. No amount of education, no
advantages, however great, can make one a channel of light without the
co-operation of the Spirit of God. The sowing of the gospel seed will
not be a success unless the seed is quickened into life by the dew of
heaven. Before one book of the New Testament was written, before one
gospel sermon had been preached after Christ's ascension, the Holy
Spirit came upon the praying apostles. Then the testimony of their
enemies was, "Ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine."
Christ has promised the gift of the Holy Spirit to His church, and
the promise belongs to us as much as to the first disciples. But like
every other promise, it is given on conditions. There are many who
believe and profess to claim the Lord's promise; they talk about Christ
and about the Holy Spirit, yet receive no benefit. They do not
surrender the soul to be guided and controlled by the divine agencies.
We cannot use the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is to use us. Through the
Spirit God works in His people "to will and to do of His good
pleasure." Phil. 2:13. But many will not submit to this. They want
to manage themselves. This is why they do not receive the heavenly gift.
Only to those who wait humbly upon God, who watch for His guidance and
grace, is the Spirit given. The power of God awaits their demand and
reception. This promised blessing, claimed by faith, brings all other
blessings in its train. It is given according to the riches of the grace
of Christ, and He is ready to supply every soul according to the
capacity to receive.
In His discourse to the disciples, Jesus made no mournful allusion to
His own sufferings and death. His last legacy to them was a legacy of
peace. He said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you:
not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be
troubled, neither let it be afraid."
Before leaving the upper chamber, the Saviour led His disciples in a
song of praise. His voice was heard, not in the strains of some mournful
lament, but in the joyful notes of the Passover hallel:
"O praise the Lord, all ye nations:
Praise Him, all ye people.
For His merciful kindness is great toward us:
And the truth of the Lord endureth forever.
Praise ye the Lord." Psalm 117.
After the hymn, they went out. Through the crowded streets they made
their way, passing out of the city gate toward the Mount of Olives.
Slowly they proceeded, each busy with his own thoughts. As they began to
descend toward the mount, Jesus said, in a tone of deepest sadness,
"All ye shall be offended because of Me this night: for it is
written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be
scattered abroad." Matt. 26:31. The disciples listened in sorrow
and amazement. They remembered how in the synagogue at Capernaum, when
Christ spoke of Himself as the bread of life, many had been offended,
and had turned away from Him. But the twelve had not shown themselves
unfaithful. Peter, speaking for his brethren, had then declared his
loyalty to Christ. Then the Saviour had said, "Have not I chosen
you twelve, and one of you is a devil?" John 6:70. In the upper
chamber Jesus said that one of the twelve would betray Him, and that
Peter would deny Him. But now His words include them all.
Now Peter's voice is heard vehemently protesting, "Although all
shall be offended, yet will not I." In the upper chamber he had
declared, "I will lay down my life for Thy sake." Jesus had
warned him that he would that very night deny his Saviour. Now Christ
repeats the warning: "Verily I say unto thee, That this day, even
in this night, before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny Me
thrice." But Peter only "spake the more vehemently, If I
should die with Thee, I will not deny Thee in anywise. Likewise also
said they all." Mark 14:29, 30, 31. In their self-confidence they
denied the repeated statement of Him who knew. They were unprepared for
the test; when temptation should overtake them, they would understand
their own weakness.
When Peter said he would follow his Lord to prison and to death, he
meant it, every word of it; but he did not know himself. Hidden in his
heart were elements of evil that circumstances would fan into life.
Unless he was made conscious of his danger, these would prove his
eternal ruin. The Saviour saw in him a self-love and assurance that
would overbear even his love for Christ. Much of infirmity, of
unmortified sin, carelessness of spirit, unsanctified temper,
heedlessness in entering into temptation, had been revealed in his
experience. Christ's solemn warning was a call to heart searching. Peter
needed to distrust himself, and to have a deeper faith in Christ. Had he
in humility received the warning, he would have appealed to the Shepherd
of the flock to keep His sheep. When on the Sea of Galilee he was about
to sink, he cried, "Lord, save me." Matt. 14:30. Then the hand
of Christ was outstretched to grasp his hand. So now if he had cried to
Jesus, Save me from myself, he would have been kept. But Peter felt that
he was distrusted, and he thought it cruel. He was already offended, and
he became more persistent in his self-confidence.
Jesus looks with compassion on His disciples. He cannot save them
from the trial, but He does not leave them comfortless. He assures them
that He is to break the fetters of the tomb, and that His love for them
will not fail. "After I am risen again," He says, "I will
go before you into Galilee." Matt. 26:32. Before the denial, they
have the assurance of forgiveness. After His death and resurrection,
they knew that they were forgiven, and were dear to the heart of Christ.
Jesus and the disciples were on the way to Gethsemane, at the foot of
Mount Olivet, a retired spot which He had often visited for meditation
and prayer. The Saviour had been explaining to His disciples His mission
to the world, and the spiritual relation to Him which they were to
sustain. Now He illustrates the lesson. The moon is shining bright, and
reveals to Him a flourishing grapevine. Drawing the attention of the
disciples to it, He employs it as a symbol.
"I am the true Vine," He says. Instead of choosing the
graceful palm, the lofty cedar, or the strong oak, Jesus takes the vine
with its clinging tendrils to represent Himself. The palm tree, the
cedar, and the oak stand alone. They require no support. But the vine
entwines about the trellis, and thus climbs heavenward. So Christ in His
humanity was dependent upon divine power. "I can of Mine own self
do nothing," He declared. John 5:30.
"I am the true Vine." The Jews had always regarded the vine
as the most noble of plants, and a type of all that was powerful,
excellent, and fruitful. Israel had been represented as a vine which God
had planted in the Promised Land. The Jews based their hope of salvation
on the fact of their connection with Israel. But Jesus says, I am the
real Vine. Think not that through a connection with Israel you may
become partakers of the life of God, and inheritors of His promise.
Through Me alone is spiritual life received.
"I am the true Vine, and My Father is the husbandman." On
the hills of Palestine our heavenly Father had planted this goodly Vine,
and He Himself was the husbandman. Many were attracted by the beauty of
this Vine, and declared its heavenly origin. But to the leaders in
Israel it appeared as a root out of a dry ground. They took the plant,
and bruised it, and trampled it under their unholy feet. Their thought
was to destroy it forever. But the heavenly Husbandman never lost sight
of His plant. After men thought they had killed it, He took it, and
replanted it on the other side of the wall. The vine stock was to be no
longer visible. It was hidden from the rude assaults of men. But the
branches of the Vine hung over the wall. They were to represent the
Vine. Through them grafts might still be united to the Vine. From them
fruit has been obtained. There has been a harvest which the passers-by
"I am the Vine, ye are the branches," Christ said to His
disciples. Though He was about to be removed from them, their spiritual
union with Him was to be unchanged. The connection of the branch with
the vine, He said, represents the relation you are to sustain to Me. The
scion is engrafted into the living vine, and fiber by fiber, vein by
vein, it grows into the vine stock. The life of the vine becomes the
life of the branch. So the soul dead in trespasses and sins receives
life through connection with Christ. By faith in Him as a personal
Saviour the union is formed. The sinner unites his weakness to Christ's
strength, his emptiness to Christ's fullness, his frailty to Christ's
enduring might. Then he has the mind of Christ. The humanity of Christ
has touched our humanity, and our humanity has touched divinity. Thus
through the agency of the Holy Spirit man becomes a partaker of the
divine nature. He is accepted in the Beloved.
This union with Christ, once formed, must be maintained. Christ said,
"Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of
itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in
Me." This is no casual touch, no off-and-on connection. The branch
becomes a part of the living vine. The communication of life, strength,
and fruitfulness from the root to the branches is unobstructed and
constant. Separated from the vine, the branch cannot live. No more, said
Jesus, can you live apart from Me. The life you have received from Me
can be preserved only by continual communion. Without Me you cannot
overcome one sin, or resist one temptation.
"Abide in Me, and I in you." Abiding in Christ means a
constant receiving of His Spirit, a life of unreserved surrender to His
service. The channel of communication must be open continually between
man and his God. As the vine branch constantly draws the sap from the
living vine, so are we to cling to Jesus, and receive from Him by faith
the strength and perfection of His own character.
The root sends its nourishment through the branch to the outermost
twig. So Christ communicates the current of spiritual strength to every
believer. So long as the soul is united to Christ, there is no danger
that it will wither or decay.
The life of the vine will be manifest in fragrant fruit on the
branches. "He that abideth in Me," said Jesus, "and I in
him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without Me ye can do
nothing." When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of
the Spirit will be seen in our lives; not one will be missing.
"My Father is the husbandman. Every branch in Me that beareth
not fruit He taketh away." While the graft is outwardly united with
the vine, there may be no vital connection. Then there will be no growth
or fruitfulness. So there may be an apparent connection with Christ
without a real union with Him by faith. A profession of religion places
men in the church, but the character and conduct show whether they are
in connection with Christ. If they bear no fruit, they are false
branches. Their separation from Christ involves a ruin as complete as
that represented by the dead branch. "If a man abide not in
Me," said Christ, "he is cast forth as a branch, and is
withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are
"And every branch that beareth fruit, He purgeth [pruneth] it,
that it may bring forth more fruit." From the chosen twelve who had
followed Jesus, one as a withered branch was about to be taken away; the
rest were to pass under the pruning knife of bitter trial. Jesus with
solemn tenderness explained the purpose of the husbandman. The pruning
will cause pain, but it is the Father who applies the knife. He works
with no wanton hand or indifferent heart. There are branches trailing
upon the ground; these must be cut loose from the earthly supports to
which their tendrils are fastening. They are to reach heavenward, and
find their support in God. The excessive foliage that draws away the
life current from the fruit must be pruned off. The overgrowth must be
cut out, to give room for the healing beams of the Sun of Righteousness.
The husbandman prunes away the harmful growth, that the fruit may be
richer and more abundant.
"Herein is My Father glorified," said Jesus, "that ye
bear much fruit." God desires to manifest through you the holiness,
the benevolence, the compassion, of His own character. Yet the Saviour
does not bid the disciples labor to bear fruit. He tells them to abide
in Him. "If ye abide in Me," He says, "and My words abide
in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you."
It is through the word that Christ abides in His followers. This is the
same vital union that is represented by eating His flesh and drinking
His blood. The words of Christ are spirit and life. Receiving them, you
receive the life of the Vine. You live "by every word that
proceedeth out of the mouth of God." Matt. 4:4. The life of Christ
in you produces the same fruits as in Him. Living in Christ, adhering to
Christ, supported by Christ, drawing nourishment from Christ, you bear
fruit after the similitude of Christ.
In this last meeting with His disciples, the great desire which
Christ expressed for them was that they might love one another as He had
loved them. Again and again He spoke of this. "These things I
command you," He said repeatedly, "that ye love one
another." His very first injunction when alone with them in the
upper chamber was, "A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love
one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."
To the disciples this commandment was new; for they had not loved one
another as Christ had loved them. He saw that new ideas and impulses
must control them; that new principles must be practiced by them;
through His life and death they were to receive a new conception of
love. The command to love one another had a new meaning in the light of
His self-sacrifice. The whole work of grace is one continual service of
love, of self-denying, self-sacrificing effort. During every hour of
Christ's sojourn upon the earth, the love of God was flowing from Him in
irrepressible streams. All who are imbued with His Spirit will love as
He loved. The very principle that actuated Christ will actuate them in
all their dealing one with another.
This love is the evidence of their discipleship. "By this shall
all men know that ye are My disciples," said Jesus, "if ye
have love one to another." When men are bound together, not by
force or self-interest, but by love, they show the working of an
influence that is above every human influence. Where this oneness
exists, it is evidence that the image of God is being restored in
humanity, that a new principle of life has been implanted. It shows that
there is power in the divine nature to withstand the supernatural
agencies of evil, and that the grace of God subdues the selfishness
inherent in the natural heart.
This love, manifested in the church, will surely stir the wrath of
Satan. Christ did not mark out for His disciples an easy path. "If
the world hate you," He said, "ye know that it hated Me before
it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but
because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world,
therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you,
The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted Me,
they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will
keep yours also. But all these things will they do unto you for My
name's sake, because they know not Him that sent Me." The gospel is
to be carried forward by aggressive warfare, in the midst of opposition,
peril, loss, and suffering. But those who do this work are only
following in their Master's steps.
As the world's Redeemer, Christ was constantly confronted with
apparent failure. He, the messenger of mercy to our world, seemed to do
little of the work He longed to do in uplifting and saving. Satanic
influences were constantly working to oppose His way. But He would not
be discouraged. Through the prophecy of Isaiah He declares, "I have
labored in vain, I have spent My strength for nought, and in vain: yet
surely My judgment is with the Lord, and My work with My God. . . .
Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of
the Lord, and My God shall be My strength." It is to Christ that
the promise is given, "Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel,
and His Holy One, to Him whom man despiseth, to Him whom the nation
abhorreth; . . . thus saith the Lord: . . . I will preserve Thee, and
give Thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause
to inherit the desolate heritages; that Thou mayest say to the
prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. . .
. They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite
them: for He that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the
springs of water shall He guide them." Isa. 49:4, 5, 7-10.
Upon this word Jesus rested, and He gave Satan no advantage. When the
last steps of Christ's humiliation were to be taken, when the deepest
sorrow was closing about His soul, He said to His disciples, "The
prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in Me." "The
prince of this world is judged." Now shall he be cast out. John
14:30; 16:11; 12:31. With prophetic eye Christ traced the scenes to take
place in His last great conflict. He knew that when He should exclaim,
"It is finished," all heaven would triumph. His ear caught the
distant music and the shouts of victory in the heavenly courts. He knew
that the knell of Satan's empire would then be sounded, and the name of
Christ would be heralded from world to world throughout the universe.
Christ rejoiced that He could do more for His followers than they
could ask or think. He spoke with assurance, knowing that an almighty
decree had been given before the world was made. He knew that truth,
armed with the omnipotence of the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the
contest with evil; and that the bloodstained banner would wave
triumphantly over His followers. He knew that the life of His trusting
disciples would be like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not
seen to be such here, but recognized as such in the great hereafter.
"These things I have spoken unto you," He said, "that
in Me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but
be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." Christ did not fail,
neither was He discouraged, and His followers are to manifest a faith of
the same enduring nature. They are to live as He lived, and work as He
worked, because they depend on Him as the great Master Worker. Courage,
energy, and perseverance they must possess. Though apparent
impossibilities obstruct their way, by His grace they are to go forward.
Instead of deploring difficulties, they are called upon to surmount
them. They are to despair of nothing, and to hope for everything. With
the golden chain of His matchless love Christ has bound them to the
throne of God. It is His purpose that the highest influence in the
universe, emanating from the source of all power, shall be theirs. They
are to have power to resist evil, power that neither earth, nor death,
nor hell can master, power that will enable them to overcome as Christ
Christ designs that heaven's order, heaven's plan of government,
heaven's divine harmony, shall be represented in His church on earth.
Thus in His people He is glorified. Through them the Sun of
Righteousness will shine in undimmed luster to the world. Christ has
given to His church ample facilities, that He may receive a large
revenue of glory from His redeemed, purchased possession. He has
bestowed upon His people capabilities and blessings that they may
represent His own sufficiency. The church, endowed with the
righteousness of Christ, is His depositary, in which the riches of His
mercy, His grace, and His love, are to appear in full and final display.
Christ looks upon His people in their purity and perfection, as the
reward of His humiliation, and the supplement of His glory,--Christ, the
great Center, from whom radiates all glory.
With strong, hopeful words the Saviour ended His instruction. Then He
poured out the burden of His soul in prayer for His disciples. Lifting
His eyes to heaven, He said, "Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy
Son, that Thy Son also may glorify Thee: as Thou hast given Him power
over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as Thou hast
given Him. And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee the only
true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent."
Christ had finished the work that was given Him to do. He had
glorified God on the earth. He had manifested the Father's name. He had
gathered out those who were to continue His work among men. And He said,
"I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but
these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through
Thine own name those whom Thou hast given Me, that they may be one, as
We are." "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also
which shall believe on Me through their word; that they all may be one;
. . . I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made perfect in one;
and that the world may know that Thou hast sent Me, and hast loved them,
as Thou hast loved Me."
Thus in the language of one who has divine authority, Christ gives
His elect church into the Father's arms. As a consecrated high priest He
intercedes for His people. As a faithful shepherd He gathers His flock
under the shadow of the Almighty, in the strong and sure refuge. For Him
there waits the last battle with Satan, and He goes forth to meet it.
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