Chapter 34.2 “I Am the Way”
Thursday night (Jewish Friday) of Passion Week, upper room, Jerusalem A.D. 30
True Vine, composite digital image by L. Lovett, 2006
True Vine, composite digital image by L. Lovett, 2006
(CLICK on the image above for a LARGER version)

Jesus got up from the table and went over to the window. From the upper room, in full moonlight he could see rows of grapevines across the Kidron Valley on the Mount of Olives. They would soon sprout new leaves and bud, producing a bountiful new vintage.

He used this metaphor to illustrate the union of Christ with his church and bearing fruit in the Kingdom of God. “I am the True Vine and my Father owns the vineyard. Dwell in me, as I in you. No branch can bear fruit in itself unless it remains united with the vine. In the same way, you cannot bear fruit unless you remain united with me. I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who remain in me and I in them will yield an abundant harvest.

“If you abide in me and allow my words to govern your prayer life, you may ask for anything you want and have it, for this is how the glory of my Father is to be revealed. In so doing, you will become true disciples and bear much fruit.

“I love you precisely the same way the Father loves me, so dwell in my love. I have spoken to you in this way so that my joy may be in you, and your joy complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this, that someone should lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, for I have disclosed to you everything that I have heard from the Father. You did not choose me; I chose you. I have appointed you to the task of reaching forth and bearing fruit that will last, so that the Father may give you whatever you ask in my name.

“I have chosen you out of the world and now you do not belong to it. Remember what I said, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. I have told you all this to guard you against breakdown of your faith. There is much more I could say, but the burden would be too great for you now.”

Work of the Spirit

The Lord returned to his place at the table and looked ahead to the Day of Pentecost when the apostles would begin building his church. “When I send you the Advocate—the Spirit of Truth—from the Father, he will bear witness to me. You are also my witnesses because you have been with me from the beginning. The Spirit will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak on his own authority, but will speak only what he receives from me, and he will make known to you what is to come.”

Then he gave them a riddle, “A little while, and you will see me no more; again in a little while, you will see me.”

Some of his disciples discussed it among themselves, asking each other, “What is this ‘little while?’ We do not know what he means.”

Jesus knew they were wanting to question him, and gave an illustration, “In very truth, you will weep and mourn, but your grief will be turned to joy. A woman in labor is in pain because her time has come; but when her baby is born she forgets the anguish in her joy that a child has been born into the world. So it is with you; for the moment you are sad; but I shall see you again, and then you will be joyful—and no one can rob you of your joy. When that day comes you will not need to ask me anything more. Remember, if you ask the Father for anything in my name, he will give it to you. Ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be complete.”

That first “little while” would comprise those terrible days of his death and entombment, when they would weep and lament. Yet their brief sorrow would be turned into joy, like the short sorrow of childbearing. It would be remembered no more in the joy of Resurrection morning, which no one could ever take from them.

“I have been teaching you by ways of figure of speech. But the time is coming when I will no longer use parables, but communicate to you directly and plainly about the Father. When that day arrives you will be able to make your requests directly to the Father. It will no longer be necessary for me to make any requests of him on your behalf, for the Father himself adores and treasures you because you have loved me and believed that I came from him.

“Now I am leaving this world to return to the Father. It is best for you that I go away, because if I do not go, the Spirit will not come. Since I am going away, I will send him to you, and he will guide you into all truth.”

Christ had read their thoughts, and there was no need for anyone to express more questions. He knew all things, and by this they believed that he came forth from God. The disciples imagined that they understood this at least. But how little did they know their own hearts! The time had even come when they would be scattered, every man to his own home, and leave him alone—yet, he truly would not be alone, because the Father would be with him.

Even so, his first and last thoughts were of them; and through the night of scattering and sorrow he would bid them to look for the morning of joy. His discourses ended with these glorious words, “I have told you all this so that in me you may find peace. In the world you will have suffering, but take heart, I have conquered the world!” The battle was not theirs, the victory never doubtful!

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