The Review and Herald

907/1902

November 16, 1897

The Vine and the Branches—3

EGW

The lesson which Christ drew from the vine and its branches he taught by another illustration. “Verily, verily, I say unto you,” he said, “except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” RH November 16, 1897, par. 1

Many of the Jews who claimed to be Christ's disciples had murmured among themselves because Christ had said: “I am the bread which came down from heaven. And they said, Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that he saith, I came down from heaven? Jesus therefore answered and said unto them, Murmur not among yourselves. No man can come unto me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the prophets, And they shall be all taught of God. Every man therefore that hath heard, and hath learned of the Father, cometh unto me. Not that any man hath seen the Father; save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life. I am that bread of life. Your fathers did eat manna in the wilderness, and are dead. This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live forever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” RH November 16, 1897, par. 2

But the priests and rulers strove among themselves, saying: “How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me.” RH November 16, 1897, par. 3

The Saviour read the hearts of all who joined themselves to him as his disciples. He knew that there were many who thought themselves his disciples, who were not. He knew that their bitterness of spirit would be displayed if any word spoken by him did not harmonize with their preconceived opinions. He knew that prejudices and jealousies would be aroused at the slightest reference to their peculiar principles. And understanding, as he did, the heart and all its working, he sought to present the plain facts concerning his relation to humanity, his mission, and his work. The words that the Saviour spoke were the truth. He laid the ax at the root of the tree. “This is that bread which came down from heaven,” he said; “not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live forever.” RH November 16, 1897, par. 4

The lesson drawn from these two symbols contains the very mystery of godliness. No one need be left in darkness. It is the truth that is to be received, and its reception will be revealed in the life of every true believer. When by faith the believer takes hold of Christ, there comes a turning-point in his life. He receives the spirit and mind of Christ, and represents his character. RH November 16, 1897, par. 5

But a large number of those who followed Christ were not grafted into the True Vine, and they revealed the fact when Christ gave this lesson. “Many therefore of his disciples, when they heard this, said, This is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, Doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the Spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him. And he said, Therefore said I unto you, that no man can come unto me, except it were given unto him of my Father. From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.” RH November 16, 1897, par. 6

These disciples were not receiving Christ and believing in him, and the Saviour knew that it was time for them to understand what should be their relation to himself. RH November 16, 1897, par. 7

Every temptation is one of the Lord's means of establishing his people in the faith. They will obtain an experience if they will seek unto the Lord; or through the wiles of Satan, they may yield their faith. But if they will refuse to make any move until they seek counsel of God, if they will open the word to understand what is written therein, they will see where they are standing, and what is their peril. The disciples who forsook Jesus had entertained contention and unbelief. Unbelief had grown into a habit; and now had become a more distinct and startling opportunity to demonstrate that they were offended. The strife of the Jews over Christ's words, meeting them with questioning and doubt, gathered about the souls of these disciples the dark clouds of unbelief. Their faith had not been genuine, and the test revealed their weakness and unreliable position. These lessons were designed to give to all a knowledge of self, to show them the true position they sustained toward Christ. Temptation, working in darkness, was causing the weak and tempted ones to lose faith in Christ, because they could not understand the spiritual meaning of his words. RH November 16, 1897, par. 8

Christ uttered sayings that have power to obtain a place in every heart that is seeking to know the will of God. He declared: “For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.” “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.... All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” More precious than gold are these words. Those who will to do his will, shall know of the doctrine. But if their human ideas, received through traditions and maxims and customs of men, are still retained as of value, they may be convinced that the words of Christ will satisfy their highest wants; that these words can comfort, encourage, strengthen, and settle them, and remove from them their unrest and uncertainty; they may feel a most earnest desire for the results following the partaking of the bread from heaven, and may even be frank enough to express their wish, “Lord, evermore give us this bread:” yet they will reject Christ, and lose his proffered blessings. RH November 16, 1897, par. 9

This lesson was given to test and prove his believing disciples also. These disciples had turned away from the priests and rulers to Christ, and now Christ revealed his true relation to them. Have they genuine faith in him? or are they of the number to whom Christ said, “Ye also have seen me, and believe not”? Turning to the twelve, he said: “Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life. And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God. Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil? He spake of Judas Iscariot the son of Simon: for he it was that should betray him, being one of the twelve.” RH November 16, 1897, par. 10

Christ had come to the time when the truth must be spoken decidedly, that the disciples who were indeed in the Vine might be distinguished from those who had no vital connection with Christ. And here was a branch that apparently was one with the Vine; but after living with the disciples, and listening to the words of Christ, he gave evidence that he was not abiding in the Vine. RH November 16, 1897, par. 11

Judas was one who exerted a large influence over the disciples. He was of a commanding appearance, and had excellent qualifications. But these endowments had not been sanctified to God. His energies were devoted to self-serving, self-exaltation, and gain. Had he humbled his heart before God under this divine instruction that pointed so plainly to himself, he would no longer have remained a tempter, expressing his unbelief to his brother disciples, and thus sowing the seeds of unbelief in their hearts. RH November 16, 1897, par. 12

But Judas had opened the door of his heart, the chambers of his mind, to the temptations of Satan. And the enemy sowed in his heart and mind the seed which he communicated to his brethren. The questioning doubts which were passed from Satan to the mind of Judas, he passed on to the minds of his brethren. This one man, professing to be a follower of Christ, while not bearing the precious fruit revealed in the life of Christ, would be a channel of darkness to the other disciples in the time of test and trial that was soon to come, and that was even then upon them. He presented so much accusation of his brethren that he was counterworking the lessons of Christ. This is why Jesus called Judas a devil. RH November 16, 1897, par. 13

God was still unknown to Judas as a living God, a loving Father. The life of Judas was not hid with Christ in God. That poor, independent soul, separate from the spirit and life of Christ, had a hard time. He was ever under condemnation, because the lessons of Christ were always cutting him. Yet he did not become transformed, and converted into a living branch through connection with the True Vine. This dry sapling adhered not to the Vine until it grew into a fruitful, living branch. He revealed that he was the graft that did not bear fruit,—the graft that did not, fiber by fiber and vein by vein, become knit with the Vine, and partake of its life. RH November 16, 1897, par. 14

The dry, disconnected sapling can become one with the parent vine stock only by being made a partaker of the life and nourishment of the living vine, by being grafted into the vine, by being brought into the closest relationship possible. Fiber by fiber, vein by vein, the twig holds fast to the life-giving vine, until the life of the vine becomes the life of the branch, and it produces fruit like that of the vine. RH November 16, 1897, par. 15

This is so with the follower of Christ. When he is truly connected with Christ, he will not be like those disciples who were offended because their own minds were not spiritual. They saw the truths that pleased them; but when they came to hear something they could not explain or reason out, because they were not in vital connection with Christ, they were offended. They turned away, and walked no more with him. It was better that these fruitless branches should reveal themselves while Christ was with them. It was for this reason that the words of Christ were spoken, that these disciples might be proved to be just what they were,—not of the faith, but among those that believed not. Just as long as they were with Christ, they revealed a spirit of unbelief. They found the words of Christ opposed to their ideas and maxims, and bore no fruit as branches of the Living Vine. RH November 16, 1897, par. 16