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IV

Closer Wooing

An Evening with Opening Hearts: the Story of a Supper and a Walk in the Moonlight and the Shadows

    Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
    With unperturbed pace,
    Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
    And past those noised Feet
    A Voice comes yet more fleet—
    "Lo, naught contents thee, who content'st not Me."

—"The Hound of Heaven."

     "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I
     leave the world, and go unto the Father."—John xvi. 28.

    "I thought His love would weaken
    As more and more He knew me;
    But it burneth like a beacon,
    And its light and heat go through me;
    And I ever hear Him say,
    As He goes along His way,
    Wand'ring souls, O do come near Me;
    My sheep should never fear Me.
    I am the Shepherd true."

Frederick William Faber.

IV

Closer Wooing

(Chapters xiii.-xvii.)

Knots.

The knot tied on the end of the thread holds the seam. The clinching of the nail on the underside holds all that has been done. Love ties knots to hold what has been gotten. The bit of prayer knots up the kindly act. The warm hand-grasp knots the timely word. The added word and act tie up all that's gone before. Hate imitates love the best it can. But its intense fires are never so hot.

The rest of John's book is simple. It is tying knots on the ends of threads. Five knots are tied on the ends of these same three threads we have been tracing.

There's a triple knot on the end of the blue thread of acceptance; an ugly tangled knotty knot on the end of that black thread of opposition and rejection; and a knot of wondrous beauty on the end of that yellow thread of winsome wooing. Chapters eighteen and nineteen tie two of these, the black and the glory-coloured.

Chapters thirteen through seventeen, is the first knot on the faith thread, the betrayal-night knot. Chapter twenty is the second, the Resurrection knot; chapter twenty-one the extra knot, the love-service knot. We take a look now at the patient skilful tying of the first knot on the end of that true-blue faith thread.

It's taken a good bit of careful work to get that thread, tearing loose, cleansing, spinning, twisting, careful handling, till at last a good thread is gotten, and is being woven into the warp. Now a knot is tied on its end to hold what has been gotten, and keep it from ravelling out, for there's a desperately hard place coming in the weaving.

There's a clean finish at the end of the twelfth chapter of John. There's a sharp break, an abrupt turn off to something quite different. The direct-wooing case is made up. There is no more added to it, except the indirect, the incidental. The evidence is all in. Wondrous wooing it has been, in its winsomeness, its faithfulness, its rare power. Now it is over. It's done, and well done. That door is shut, the national door.

Now another door opens. The inner door into Jesus' heart is being opened by Him. And the inner door into the disciples' heart is being knocked at that it, too, may open. It is the betrayal night. Jesus is alone with the inner circle. They have received Him. Now He will receive them into closer intimacy than yet before. They have opened their hearts to His love. Now He opens His heart to let out more the love that is there. Love accepted is free to reveal itself. And love revealing its warmth and tenderness and depth yet more calls out quickly a deeper, a tenderer love.

It's the Passover evening. They have met, the twelve and their Master, by appointment, in the home of one of Jesus' faithful unnamed friends. In a large upper room they are shut in, gathered about the supper board. As they eat Jesus is quietly but intently thinking. Four trains of thought pass through His mind side by side.103103xiii. 1-3. The Father had trusted all into His hands. He had come down from the Father on an errand and would return when the errand was done.

And now the hour was come. The turn in the road was reached, the sharp turn down leading to the sharp turn up and then back. It had seemed slow in coming, that hour.104104ii. 4; vii. 6, 8, 30; viii. 20. Dreaded things seem to linger even while they hasten, dreaded longed-for things, dreaded in the experience of pain to be borne, eagerly longed for in the blessed result; as with an expectant mother. Now the hour's here.105105xii 23, 27; xiii. 1, 31-32; xvii. 1.

And yonder across the board sits the man so faithfully wooed, yet dead-set in his inner heart on a dark purpose, more evil in its outcome than he realizes. There must be more and tenderer wooing. He shall have yet another full opportunity. And under all is the heart-throb of love for these who are His own, being birthed into a new life by the giving of His very own life these months past. He loves His own, and will to the uttermost, the utterest, the mostest, limit of love and of time left Him before the great event. These are the thoughts passing quietly, clearly, intensely, through Jesus' mind as they sit at supper.

Teaching Three Things in One Action.

Now He acts.106106xiii. 4-11. Quietly He rises from the table, picks up a towel and fastens its end in His waistband for convenience in use, after the servant's usual fashion. Then He pours water into a basin and turning stoops over the feet of the disciple nearest Him. And before they can recover from their wide-eyed astonishment He begins bathing his feet and then carefully wiping them with the convenient towel. And so around the circle. Peter, of course, protests, and so calls out a little of the explanation. And then with tender passionateness he asks for the washing to take in all his extremities, head and hands as well as feet. How their hearts must have felt the touch upon their feet!

Then follows a bit of explanation.107107xiii. 12-20. But the chief thing had already been done. The acting was more than the speech. Three things the Master was doing. The teaching about humility lies on the surface, within easy reach. It was acted, then spoken; done, then said. It was sorely needed, and is. In it was the key to Jesus' great victory within the twenty-four hours following,108108Philippians ii. 6-11. and would have been for them had they used it. Humility is the foundation of all strength and victory. Only the strong can stoop. It takes the strongest to stoop lowest. He who so stoops is revealing strength.

Humility is not thinking meanly of yourself; it is merely getting into correct personal relation with God, and so with men. It is our true normal attitude, as dependent creatures, as those who have sinned, as those who have been bought with blood. Everything we have is from Another, originally and continuously; we are utterly dependent. All rights have been forfeited by our wilful conduct; we retain nothing in our own right. And all we have now has been secured for us at the cost of blood; we are being carried at enormous expense. Not much room there for self-satisfaction, is there?

Humility is simply recognizing our utter dependence upon Another, and living it. And this controls our touch with our fellows. In this lies the secret of all strength,—mental keenness and vigour, sympathetic touch with others, and power of action in life and in service. All this touches the weakest spot in these men, and in—us.

But there's more here. The humility teaching is out on the surface. There's a bit under the surface, that they would soon be needing and needing badly. It's this: the thing in you that's wrong must be made right; and it can be. Every sin done by the man who is trusting Christ as his Saviour, every such sin must be cleansed away. And it can be. The feet-washing told this bit of tremendous truth.

These men trusted Christ. But their moral feet would get badly messed that night, mired and slimed by passionate betrayal and blasphemous denial and cowardly flight. The man going to the bath-house was clean on returning home except where his sandalled feet had gathered some soil from the road. These men were cleansed in heart through Christ. But the foot-soilings must be cleansed. These two things ring out. Sin must be reckoned with and cleansed out. And, blessed truth! it can be. This is the second bit. It would be brought to their remembrance that same night when the road they took dirtied them up so badly, and afterwards.

But there's a deeper, a tenderer bit yet here. There is the love touch. Jesus was giving them the tenderest touch yet of His love, to hold them. The personal touch is the tenderest. Man yearns for the personal touch, of presence, of lips, of hands. Something seems to go through the personal touch from heart to heart. The spirit-currents find their connection so. Jesus gave the tender personal touch that evening, the closest yet. His hands touched their feet, but He was not thinking most about their feet. He was reaching higher up. His hands reached past their feet for their hearts.

And they felt it so. Their hearts understood, if their heads didn't yet. Judas felt those hands reaching to touch his heart. And he had to set himself afresh to resist that touch. John felt it, and remained steady. Peter felt it and came back with flooded eyes. The fleeing nine felt that touch and yielded to it as they penitently returned. Love won. That personal touch did it.

But Jesus feels Judas' heart hardening as He touches his feet, and the gentle word already spoken availed not.109109xiii. 18. Now His great heart is sorely troubled for Judas.110110xiii. 21-30. He tries once again to reach his heart and stay his wayward feet. He reaches for his feet through his heart this time. They're all together about the table again. Quietly, but with tactful indirectness, Jesus lets Judas know that He knows. He says, "One of you is planning to betray Me."

The men stare one at another in questioning astonishment. Peter touches John's arm and with eye and word quietly asks him to find out. John reclining next to Jesus asks the question in undertone. And as quietly Jesus makes reply. Then the last appeal is made to Judas in the last delicate touch of special personal attention. Judas' unchanged spirit makes wordless answer. The hardening of the purpose is a further opening of a downward door and that door is quickly used by the evil one.

And Judas rises abruptly with jaw set and eye tense, and goes out into the blackest night the clouds ever shut in. So the first tremendous part of the evening's drama is now done. The wooing of Judas has been intense and tender clean up to the last moment, and resisted. Now that chapter is done. Another corner is passed. The extremes have—parted. One man has gone out. Eleven stay in, and in staying come closer.

Believe—Love—Obey.

The atmosphere clears now. That black cloud shifts. The pressure is relieved. The air changes. Breathing is easier. Jesus did His best to keep Judas in by trying to have him turn something—some one—out. But the something that held the some one is kept within, so the man goes out. That inside air was getting a bit thick for Judas. Love's tender pleading unyielded to makes breathing difficult.

Again Jesus begins talking in the cleared air. The hour had full come. The character of the Son of Man would now be revealed,111111The word "glory" with its companion "glorify," is frequent in John. We shall understand better if we remember that originally the word he uses means the opinion that one has of another, especially a good opinion. But as the word is used commonly here the underlying thought is, not what one thinks of another, nor yet something that one may give to another, but the actual character in the one so thought of. Glory is the character of goodness. So to see one's glory is to see his real inner character, and to see that character openly recognized and acknowledged. So to glorify means to recognize and acknowledge openly the true character of one. Twice in John the word is used in the cheaper meaning of outer honour among men. vii. 18; viii. 50. and in being revealed God's character would also be understood, and God Himself would show what He thought of Jesus by His personal recognition and acknowledgment of Him, and He would do it at once. The clock is striking the hour. Now He was going away. They would not understand.112112xiii. 31-33.

Then Jesus strikes the great key-note of their future conduct as He goes on. The thing is this: love one another. This is the badge He gives them to wear. It will always identify them as His very own. Peter picks up the one bit he understands, and is told that he cannot yet follow in the tremendous experience lying just ahead for Jesus, but some day he can, and will. And then to Peter's blundering self-confidence comes a plain tender reminder of his weakness.113113xiii. 34-38. So that wondrous fourteenth chapter that Christendom loves begins back in the thirteenth.

And Jesus goes quietly on as they still linger about the table.114114xiv. 1-14. He had been sorely troubled,115115xi. 33; xii. 27; xiii. 21. but He would have them not troubled by their doubtings regarding Himself. It is true that they were outcasts with Him, from their national home, but He would provide them a home, and a better one. They did believe in God. They should believe Him just as implicitly. This is the warp into which is woven the whole fabric of that evening's talk. The whole talk is a plea for their trusting loving acceptance of Himself as fully as of God. This word "believe" changes its outer shape three times during that evening, making four words in all, but it's always the same thing underneath.

So now the teaching goes on in freest exchange of question and answer. What a picture of how we may talk everything out with our Lord and get fully answered. Thomas' question helps Jesus to turn them away from thinking of a roadway of clay and sand to a Man. Philip's helps Him to insist on the presence of the Father in a distinctive sense within this Man so familiarly talking with them. And then four times over He rings out that word believe.

Then by a subtle turn He changes the word, though not the thing, to help them understand better: "If ye love Me."116116xiv. 15-31. That puts the thing at once up on the heart level. Believing is a thing of the heart. Their heads were bothered. He said in effect,—all your head questions will be answered in good time, but this thing is higher up than that. It's a matter of your heart. And so that word believe becomes love, its second shape. And with that is quickly coupled obey, the third outer shape He gives the word believe that night.

It is all the same thing underneath. Love is the heart side of believe, the inner side. Obey is the life-side of believe, the outer, the action side. The love looks out the window of the life and then comes out and walks down the street on an errand. Love doesn't simply love: it loves some one. Love that simply loves isn't love. Love comes to life only in the personal touch.

And love keeps in perfect rhythm of action with the one loved. That is the other way of saying obey. Obedience is the music of two wills acting together. Believe me, love me, obey me,—this is the three-noted music of the upper room; three notes but one music; a fourth note to be added later. This is the wondrous closer wooing.

"I go to the Father. We, the Father and I, will send the Holy Spirit to you. He will come in through this opened door of obedience. He will abide in you, come in to stay. He will be everything and do everything that you need in every sort of circumstance. Keep in closest touch with Him: this is to be your one rule. Your part is simple. Believe; that means love; that means obey."

So they talk around the table. Then there's thoughtful silence, which the Master breaks by saying, "Arise, let us go."

The Great Vine Picture.

Now they're walking down the street, silently, the Master in the lead, with John and Peter close by.117117xv. 1-17. The moon is at the full. Now they see the temple, the moonlight falling full upon it. And the great brass grape-vine with which it had been beautified by Herod at his building of it shines with wondrous beauty in the enchantment of moonlight.

And now the Master is speaking again. Very quietly the words come as they still gaze at the beauty of the brass vine. Listen to Him, "I am the true vine, and My Father the vine-gardener." Here is the illustration that exactly pictures what He had been saying in the upper room. It supplies the fourth word, the fourth outer shape that word believe takes on, believe, that is—love, that is—obey, that is—abide.

Look at the vine, then you have the whole story pictured, simple, clear, full. Each of these four words grows out of the other as fruit out of blossom, and blossom out of the new branch and that out of the old stock of the vine: believe, love, obey, abide; vine, new branches, tiny blossom, fruit. The fruit grows out of the vine; yet it is the very life of the vine. Abide grows out of believe, yet it is the very heart and inner life of believe.

So He goes on ringing the changes back and forth, now here, now there. Pruning—that insures fruit, and more and better. Praying—that is the fruit, some of it; that naturally grows out of the abiding. "My words"—that is part of the abiding, the life-juice of the vine coming into branch and blossom and fruit. "Joy"—that is the rich red juice of the grape in your mouth. "Friends"—that is the other word for abide. That's what abiding makes and reveals. Abiding—that is what friends do: that's what friendship is, the real thing. Obey—that is the swing of step with our great Friend as we go along the road together. So these clusters of rich ripe fruit hang thick on the vine of this simple teaching-talk as they walk along in the moonlight.

And now they're passing through some of the narrower streets as they make their way east towards the city gate.11811818-xvi. 18. And these narrow streets are shadowed. And you feel the shadows creeping into His talk. The world will hate them. Of course. This is a natural result of the abiding. The outer crowd can no more put up with the Jesus-swayed man than with Jesus Himself. And the hate would be aggressive.

But if they would clearly understand ahead what to expect it would help them keep their feet when the worst storm came. And by staying steady and true through the worst that came, they would be of the greatest service. The Holy Spirit in them would reach out and talk to that outer crowd. He would make clear to them their awful sin in killing Jesus, the spotless purity and rightness of the absent Jesus, and the terrific fact that the prince of the world whom they rally to so faithfully is actually judged, doomed and damned. Then He adds, "now in a little bit I'll be gone from you. Then a little later, I'll be with you again."

So He goes on ringing the changes back and forth on this in simple conversational style. And now they are silent. The narrow street is quite shadowed. He lets them think a bit over His words. And the personal part takes hold most. And they talk softly together of what this means,—a little while and He is gone; again a little while, and He is back. They're plainly puzzled, yet restrained from breaking in upon His deep mood.

But with characteristic gentleness He speaks of what they would ask.119119xvi. 19-33. Clearly there is some terrible experience for Him and for them just at hand. But He reaches past to the joy beyond, as the mother forgets sharp pains in the joy of her new-born babe. And as He talks they think they understand now, but again He gently reminds of the storm about to break. And then He leaves them three wondrous words,—peace, good-cheer, overcome. In the midst of the worst storm there may be peace. In the thickest of tribulation the song of cheer may ring out. He has overcome. The outcome is settled. No doubts need nag. Sing! Sing louder! Christ is Victor!

This is the second bit of the evening's closer wooing, this long quiet talk about the supper table and along the road. It is wooing them up to more intelligence in their believing and loving. It's wooing them to trust Him, hold hard to Him, during the coming storm, when they wouldn't understand. Even when they can't understand, but stand in hopeless helpless bewilderment, they still can trust Him.

Taken into the Innermost Life.

They're outside the city-gate now, going down the path towards the Kidron Brook. Now comes the third bit of that evening's closer wooing.120120xvii. throughout. And this is the tenderest, the most personal, the least resistible bit, the closest wooing of all. He takes them into His innermost heart-life for a brief moment. It must have reminded John afterwards of that mountain-top experience when Jesus drew aside the drapery of His humanity and let a little of the inner glory shine out. Here He takes them with Him into the holy of holies of His own inner life with His Father.

Let not any one think that Jesus was simply letting them hear Him pray, so they might learn. Not that; not that. He was taking them into the sacred privacy of His own innermost life. That was a bit of the wooing, under the desperate happenings just ahead. But now as He takes them in He quite forgets them, though He knows they are there. He is absorbed with the Father. He isn't thinking now of the effect of all this on them. That's past. He is alone in spirit with the Father, talking out freely even as though actually quite alone.

We are in the innermost holy of holies here. The heart of the world's life is its literature. The heart of all literature is this sacred Book of God. The heart of this Book is the Gospels. The heart of these four Gospels is John's. The heart of John's is this exquisite bit, chapters thirteen to seventeen. And there's yet an inner heart here. It is this bit, the seventeenth chapter, where the inner side of Jesus' prayer-life lies open to us. And we shall find an innermost heart yet again here.

The simplicity of speech here catches the ear. The holy intimacy of contact with God hushes the spirit. The certainty of the Father's presence awes the heart greatly. The unquestioning confidence in the outcome is to one's faith like a glass of kingdom wine fresh from the King's own hand. The tenseness and yet exquisite quietness holds one's being still with a great stillness. Both shoes and hat go off instinctively and we stand with head bowed low and heart hushed for this is holiest ground.

Of course, no paraphrase of this prayer can possibly approach its own beauty and simplicity. But it may perhaps send one back to the prayer itself to see better what is there.

They're out in the open, down near the Kidron. Jesus stops and looks up towards the blue, the Father's open door, and quietly talks out of His heart into His Father's heart, "Father: the hour is come"; talked of long before this errand was started upon, brooded over these human years, felt in His inner being as it ticked itself nearer in the tremendous passing events. Now it is come. The clock is striking the hour, striking on earth and echoed distinctly in the Father's ear.

"Father: reveal now the true character of the Son; yet only that the Son may reveal Thy true character.121121See footnote on "glory." Thou hast already done so in the control Thou hast given Him over all men, that so He may give to them the eternal life. And this is the real life to come into intimate touch of heart and life with Thee and with Thine anointed One, Jesus."

"I have already revealed Thy character in doing fully the errand Thou didst send Me on. (And it was fully done in all the active part, though the greatest thing yet remained to be done in the tremendous yielding, the strong passive yielding to Hate's worst that so Love's truest and best might be clearly seen by men.) And now I am coming back to be recognized and acknowledged and received by Thine own self even as it was before I came away on this errand."

Thus far He has been alone with the Father face-to-face; just the two together in closest communion. Now the prayer moves on from communion and petition to intercession. He is thinking of others, of these men who are grouped near by. He has prayed for them before. He is simply picking up the thread of the accustomed prayer He had prayed, and would still pray when He had gone from them up through the doorway of the blue.

He has revealed the Father to them, and they have understood and believed and have followed. Now He prays for them, that they may be kept; not taken out of the world; kept in it, giving their witness to it, yet never of its spirit, always controlled by another Spirit. They were being sent into the world for witness even as He had been.

And a great word breaks out like the bursting of a flood of sunlight out of dark clouds,—joy. He had used it that evening before in the upper room, and again along the road. Now it flashes out again. This reveals the meaning of that good-cheer and overcome with which the roadway talk closed. With the clouds of hate at their blackest, and the storm just about to break in uncontrolled wild fury, He speaks of "My joy." He is singing. In the thick of hatred and plotting here's the bit of music, in the major key, rippling out. Such a spirit cannot be defeated. Joy is faith singing in the storm because it sees already the clearing light beyond.

And so He prays on, touching the same keys of the musical instrument of His heart, back and forth, yet ever advancing in the theme. Now He broadens out, in clear vision, beyond the gathering storm, to those, through all the earth, and down the centuries, who would believe through these men who are listening. What a sweep of faith. That singing cleared His vision.

And then He sees them all, of many races and languages and radical differences, all blended into one body of earnest loving believers drawn by the one vision of Himself back in the glory of the Father's presence, where they will all gather. And then love ties the knot on the end. A personal love ties together Father and Son and—us, who humbly give the glad homage of our hearts.

Right in the very midst of the prayer lies that innermost heart of which I spoke a moment ago. It is in verse ten. Jesus says, "All things that are Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine." There lies the very inner heart of all carried to the last degree. There is glad giving and full taking; surrender and appropriation. He who gives all may reach in and take all. Here is, humanly, the secret of Jesus' stupendous character and career.

And it is the same for the humblest of us. The road is no different. We may say, by His great grace, in the insistence of our sovereign wills, "All that is mine is Thine: I give it Thee. I give it back to Thee: I use all the strength of my will in yielding all to Thee, and in doing it habitually."

Then we can say, with greatest reverence and humility and yet bold confidence, "All that is Thine is mine." Yet being mine it is Thine. Still being Thine it is mine. So comes the perfection of the rhythmic action of love. Our love gives our all to Him. And then takes the greater all of His—no, not from Him, for Him, held in trust, used for Him, while we keep knees and face close to the ground, lest we stumble and slip and worse.

So the prayer closes. And if we might go back over it, alone in secret, prayerfully, quietly thinking thoughtfully into it, until this great simple prayer gets its hold upon our hearts. And then gradually it would come to us that so He is now praying for us, you and me.

What must it have meant to these men to stand there quietly, awed as they listen to Him praying that prayer. How it reveals the deep consciousness of the intimacy of relation between Father and Son. How it must have touched and stirred them to the very depths to hear Jesus telling the Father so simply about their faith in Himself, and their obedience, their break with their national allegiance to follow Himself. And that word joy—did they wonder about it? And wonder more later that night, and the days after? But the key-note of the music caught, and soon they were singing the same tune, and in the same pitch.

What wooing! This was the closest wooing. The fine wooing of this matchless Lover came to its superlative degree that night. Positive degree, that touch upon their feet; comparative, that talk about the board and along the road; superlative, this taking them in for a brief moment into the secrecy of His inner communion with the Father.

Simplified Spelling.

And this closer wooing is not over. It hasn't quit yet. That vine is still hanging out in fine view, all softly ablaze with the clear beautifying light, not of a fine Passover moon; no, the light of His face, His life, His words. That vine becomes for all time to every heart the pictured meaning of abide. And that word abide gives the whole of the true life.

We say Christian life, and rightly. I like to say also, the true, the natural, life. Any other is abnormal, unnatural, untrue. I might say, "of the higher Christian life," following the common usage of these latter days. I still prefer to say true life. Higher means that there is a lower life. And that this lower is reckoned Christian, too. That is the bother, the cheapening of things; we call a thing Christian which is less than the thing it is called.

Some of us need to go to school, and to sit down in the lower classes where spelling is taught. We can spell believe in the common way with seven letters. We must learn to spell it with four letters—l-o-v-e. We need to learn to spell love with a b and a y—o-b-e-y. We need to learn to spell obey with five letters a-b-i-d-e. We need to find that abide is spelled best with four letters o-b-e-y.

We need to learn this simplified spelling a bit, then all will become simplified, living, loving, witnessing, praying, winning, singing with joy over the results of our new spelling in the syllables of daily life. Blessed Master, we would come to school to Thee to-day. Please let us start down in the spelling class. And teach us, Thou Thyself teach us.

But the vine—let us make that the central picture on the wall, with the Master in the picture pointing to the vine. And under the picture the one word abide. Then the whole story is in easy shape to help, pictured before our eyes. Abide—that is Jesus walking around in your shoes, looking out through your eyes, touching in your hand, speaking through your lips and your presence. He is free to; that's your side of it. He's unhindered. He does it; that's His side of it.

Look up at the picture on the wall. The whole vine is in the fruit, is it not? The whole of the fruit is in the vine, is it not? That's abiding. The whole of Jesus will be in you as you go about your daily common task, singing. The whole of you is in Jesus as everything simple and great, is done to please Him, singing as you do it.

And just as between vine and fruit there are branch and blossom, pruning and careful handling, sun and shade, dew and rain, so there are betweens here before full ripening of fruit comes. There's purifying, cleansing by blood, cleansing by a soft fire burning within, and pruning by the Gardener and by His human assistant, you, sharp, incisive, hurting pruning.

There's feeding,—the juice of the vine flows in, and is taken in; the divine word of the divine Master is meditated, the cud of it is chewed daily. There's obedience,—perfect rhythm of action between vine and branches. There's prayer, the intercourse of our spirits, His and ours, together, the drawing from Him all we need, and the letting Him use us in His interceding for His world. These are some of the betweens. Through these comes the ripening fruit.

And the outer crowd comes eagerly for the fruit hanging over the fence within easy reach. There's a warm sympathy with one's fellows; only the thing's more than the words sound. The Jesus-spirit within will be felt by those outside, something warm and gentle and helpful. There will be things done, many things, earnestly thoughtfully done. The proper word is service. But the thing's so much more than the word ever seems to mean.

And there'll be yet more, a more of a surprising sort. The classical fox called the grapes sour because he couldn't reach them. There'll be some outside sour talk because some of the crowd won't reach the fruit. It wouldn't agree with them the way they insist on living. The Jesus-life abiding within and flowing freely out is a protest against the opposite. The mere presence of a Christ-abiding man convicts people of the sin of their lives and their treatment of Jesus. It convinces them that the absent Jesus is right, and so they are wrong. So there's trouble out in the crowd just because of the ripe good fruit hanging in plain sight and easy reach over the vineyard fence. And that double result goes on getting more so, some coming to the vine drawn by the fruit, some talking against fruit and vine. But the man abiding is of good cheer. He sings. For the outcome is assured.

So every grape-vine, in garden, by roadway, or on hillside, with its vine-stock, branches, blossom, and fruit, tells of the Father's ideal for men, a unity of life with Himself, and with each other. And every bunch of grapes hanging on one stem, with its many in one, tells of that same ideal, the concord of love with the Father and with each other.

And that unity of love dominating all is irresistible to the outer crowd, in the winsomeness of its wooing.


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