125: The vine and the branches
It was time for Jesus and His disciples to leave the table. The meal was over. Still, Jesus was not ready to take leave of His disciples. He wanted to say a few things first.
He deeply desired that the disciples would always give Him the central place in their hearts, just as He always had a place for them in His heart. He wanted them to be one with Him, just as a leaf is one with the tree and a branch is one with the vine.
This time His words did not include Judas, for Judas was not with them. Judas appeared to belong to Jesus, but he was not really bound to Him with cords of love. Therefore Judas was cut off like a withered, wild branch that bore no fruit. The eleven remaining disciples would not be cut off like Judas.Jesus went to Gethsemane. His hour was now very near.
Jesus addressed them now with a beautiful comparison, "I am the true vine, and My Father is the gardener. He takes away every branch of Mine that bears no fruit. He trims every one that does bear fruit so that it will bear even more fruit. Abide in Me, just as I abide in you. The branch can bear no fruit by itself if it does not remain in the vine. You can do nothing if you do not abide in Me. I am the vine, and you are the branches. Anyone who abides in Me and I in him bears much fruit. Without Me you can do nothing."
Then Jesus talked about the love that was supposed to bind all of His disciples together and bind all of them to Him. He said, "People will know whether you are My disciples or not, if you love one another."
When Jesus was finished speaking to His disciples, He raised His eyes to heaven and led them in prayer. The high priest in Israel bore the names of the twelve tribes on his heart when he went into the Holy of Holies. Jesus, the true High Priest, bore all the people of God in His heart as He went to God's throne.
Jesus prayed for Himself and for His work. He prayed for His disciples. He prayed for all who would later come to believe in Him through the disciples' preaching. He was now about to die for millions of people, so that they could be with Him forever.
His voice was reverent and full of trust: "Father, it is My wish that where I go, those who are with Me, whom You have given Me, may also go to see My glory. You have given Me that glory, for You loved Me even before the foundation of the world."
As Jesus prayed that beautiful high priestly prayer, He did not forget a single one of us.
Then Jesus and His disciples sang a song of praise together. Their trembling voices, husky with emotion, were led by the powerful, pure voice of their Master.
The cup was passed around once more. Then Jesus led His disciples out of the room, down the stairway, and into the dark night. His disciples surrounded Him, uneasy and concerned, looking anxiously in all directions. The moon was high in the sky, and the houses cast black shadows.
Jesus walked through the shadows. By the light of the moon, He went out the city gate, across the bridge over the brook Kidron, and along the path to the Mount of Olives. On the mountain slope was Gethsemane, an olive grove where Jesus often sought silence to pray.