The Signs of the Times


January 24, 1878

Last Talk with the Disciples


Mount Olivet had been our Saviour's favorite resort for retirement and prayer after his day's work of teaching was done. At the foot of the mount was the garden named Gethsemane, and to this he now made his way. It was night, but the moon was shining brightly and revealed to Jesus a flourishing grapevine. He uses this as a symbol of his union with his followers: ST January 24, 1878, par. 1

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away; and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” As the Father had life in himself so had the Son. The branches of a vine detached from its parent stalk, withers and dies, is lifeless and fruitless. “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit, he taketh away.” The Jewish nation was a fruitless branch, and was therefore to be separated from the living vine, which was Christ Jesus, and the Gentiles were to be engrafted upon the stalk to become a living branch, partaker of the life that nourished the true vine. The branch was to be pruned and purged that it might be more fruitful. ST January 24, 1878, par. 2

Jesus in view of his removal from his disciples is filled with anguish; yet he knows that this separation will cause them to be more firmly connected with the living vine, and yield a rich harvest of fruit. He exhorts them: “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. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit; for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you; continue ye in my love.” When the sinner has repented of his sins, and is united to Christ, as the branch is engrafted on the vine, a deep and earnest love pervades his being which death cannot quench. The nature of the man is changed and he is a partaker of the divine nature. He loves the things which Christ loves, and hates that which He hates. His desires are in harmony with the will of God. He treasures up the words of Christ, and they abide in him. The life-giving principle of the Saviour is communicated to the Christian. Just so the little rod, leafless, and apparently lifeless is engrafted into the living vine, and fiber by fiber, vein by vein, drinks life and strength from it till it becomes a flourishing branch of the parent stalk. ST January 24, 1878, par. 3

The condition of this union is plainly specified: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.” The commandments of the Father are the commandments of the Son. In this union with Christ, finite man, dependent and worthless, is exalted by a connection with the Infinite, even as the engrafted branch draws nourishment from the vine which results in the production of fruit. The follower of Christ derives from him wisdom, strength and righteousness. Without Christ he cannot be reconciled to God, whose law he has transgressed. Without Christ he is unable to subdue a single sin or overcome the smallest temptation. The soul united to Christ as the branch to the vine is accepted of God through the merits of his Son, and becomes an object of the Father's special care. Christ says, “I am the true vine, my Father is the husbandman.” Man, by his union to the Infinite One through Jesus Christ, will be fruitful of good works. “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you.” Jesus continues: ST January 24, 1878, par. 4

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth; but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you.” The joy of the Christian is not found in transgression of the law of God, but in obedience of all its precepts. None are in slavery and bondage to the law but those who transgress it. Obedience produces love to God and man—the two great principles of the law of God. This obedience and this love brings fullness of joy to the disciples of Jesus. He still impresses upon them the importance of carrying forward the work which he has begun, and bearing fruit to the glory of God. ST January 24, 1878, par. 5

“Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you. These things I command you that ye love one another. If the world hate you, 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.” The Saviour instructed his disciples not to expect the commendation of the world. The world hated the Majesty of Heaven before it hated his followers. Those who are of the same spirit with the world enjoy its smiles and approbation; but the humble disciples of Christ will suffer opposition. But this opposition met by the Christian will be of the highest value to him if it drives him to Jesus for sympathy and comfort. Such opposition will develop staunch elements of character and virtues that shine brightest in adversity. Faith, patience and Heavenly-mindedness, with confidence in God are the perfect fruit that blossoms and matures in the shadow of adversity. ST January 24, 1878, par. 6

Christ the Master was hated and persecuted, and his followers should expect no better portion in this life. In these days the churches that profess the name of Jesus, yet are built up with lifeless forms, and full of popular sins and error, escape the condemnation of the world. But a people that unite to condemn sin, repress iniquity, cherish the truth of Christ and obey the commandments of God must endure the rebuffs and persecutions of the world. ST January 24, 1878, par. 7

“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 Saviour instructed his disciples to look for the opposition of the world. He declared that they should be brought before kings and rulers for his name's sake; and whosoever might destroy the lives of the disciples would be so far deceived by the adversary as to think they were doing God service. Every indignity and cruelty which the ingenuity of man and the zeal of Satan could devise would be visited upon the followers of Christ. But, in all these trials, they were to remember that their Master and Guide had endured like reproach and contumely, and were to press on in his footsteps, keeping the prize of eternal life in view, and striving to win more souls to Christ. ST January 24, 1878, par. 8

Jesus wished to impress upon his disciples the importance of their position, as those who had accompanied him in his travels, beholding his wonderful works and hearing his words of wisdom. Said he to them: “And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.” These faithful witnesses of Christ were to execute their mission with a wisdom and energy equal to the importance of the truth to which they were to testify. The history of those men and the evidence which they were to record were to be the study of men through all ages. Tremendous results were to be realized from the words of Jesus to his few humble disciples. ST January 24, 1878, par. 9

They were the chosen repositories of the truth of God. They were witnesses of the Father's acknowledgment of Jesus as the Son of God. At the baptism of Christ they had heard the voice of the Father proclaiming: “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased.” On the mount of transfiguration they had beheld the excellent glory clothing the Saviour with the brightness of the sun. They had seen the Heavenly messengers conversing with the Saviour, and heard again the voice of God declare: “This is my beloved Son, hear him.” In the temple, only a few hours before, they had again heard the Father exalt and glorify his Son. That which these favored disciples had seen and felt and heard in regard to the Redeemer they were commissioned to testify for the benefit of humanity through all time. And, by living faith, men must lay hold of Christ through the evidence of these chosen witnesses of his divinity, and power unto salvation. ST January 24, 1878, par. 10

Jesus carefully opened before his disciples the events which would transpire after his death, forewarning them that when persecution should overtake them they might not become discouraged and apostatize from their faith to avert suffering and dishonor. Said he: “I have many things to say to you, but ye cannot bear them now.” What tenderness and sympathy these words express! He forbore to crowd their minds with truths that were difficult for them to comprehend. He led them gently on to understand the great subjects with which he wished to entrust them, and which they were to deliver to the world. ST January 24, 1878, par. 11

Jesus also refrained from wounding their feelings as much as possible. He could have, in a more definite manner, informed them concerning the Jewish service—that sacrificial offerings were no longer accepted by God, and that the light of God's presence no longer blessed the temple. But they were not yet strong enough to hear these things. A fearful test awaited them in the crucifixion of their Lord; and Jesus gently prepared their minds for this event, and for his absence from them. After his resurrection he would more clearly reveal to them his mission to the world and his approaching ascension to his Father. They would then be better able to understand and appreciate these great and solemn facts. ST January 24, 1878, par. 12

Jesus plainly stated to the disciples that he had left the presence of his Father to come unto the world; that he was about to leave the world and return to the presence of his Father. The disciples thereupon expressed their faith that Jesus had indeed come from God. The Saviour then assured them that the time was approaching when they would be scattered each one seeking his own safety, and their Master would be left alone; yet not alone, for his Father would not forsake his Son. Jesus warned his followers of the future that they might be in some measure prepared for the events that awaited them. He encouraged them to look to him and trust in him when the opposition of the world like a dark storm met them in the accomplishment of their mission. He fortified their minds with hope, and reliance in his example: Be of good cheer I have overcome the world. ST January 24, 1878, par. 13

This should be the Christian's consolation. Christ, as man's representative, has overcome the world, the flesh and the devil. So by the Saviour's help may the children of men overcome all the powers of evil. Jesus was about to be separated from his little band of followers. He had but a little time in which to comfort and instruct them, and his farewell counsel was rich in sympathy and truth. Exceeding precious to his disciples were these last moments passed in the presence of their beloved Master. Like a consecrated high priest, Jesus now poured forth the burden of his soul to his Father in such a petition for his church as the angels had never before heard. This prayer was deep and full, broad as the earth, and reaching highest heaven. He presented his humanity before the throne of God. With his human arm he encircled the children of Adam in a firm embrace, and with his strong divine arm he grasped the throne of the Infinite, that he might unite earth to heaven, and finite man with the Infinite God. ST January 24, 1878, par. 14