Episode:Jesus—The Way, the Truth, and the Life (Part 1)
If you would share the Master's joy, you must share his love. And to share his love means that you have shared his service. Such an experience of love does not deliver you from the difficulties of this world; it does not create a new world, but it most certainly does make the old world new.
Summary by Kermit
We began our new study “Jesus — The Way, the Truth, and the Life”, in Paper 180, The Farewell Discourse. In the upper room, immediately following the Last Supper, Jesus addressed his apostles, forewarning them of things, immediately to come. He tells them of his leaving to go to his Father, and that they will likewise, come to him when their work on earth is finished.
Jesus also challenges them to combine their spiritual idealism with material pragmatism in order to navigate the troublous times just ahead.
180:1. The New Commandment
Referring to the well-known commandment to love one’s neighbor as one’s self, he elevates the command, to love one another as He (Jesus) has loved us, and by so doing demonstrating discipleship with Him.
This entire discourse is Jesus’ challenge to his apostles and of course us, to go up. And of course while the commandment is new, the teaching was presented to the apostles at the time of the so-called sermon on the mount. It is found in Paper 140:5, p.1573 Fatherly and Brotherly Love.
Rather than being an added burden upon his apostles, Jesus invites them (and us) to new joy and pleasure in knowing the delights of the bestowal of our heart’s affection upon our fellows.
Pointing to the supreme measure of true affection, the laying down of one’s life for his friends, he invites them to love one another and calls them his friends. They indeed call him Master, but he calls them his friends, if they but follow this new commandment. In addition he promises to share with them the revelations of the Father.
Sharing the Master’s service is the key to sharing his love and joy. Such experience however, does not deliver us from the difficulties of the world, nor create a new world, but rather, makes the old world new.
Distinguishing loyalty from sacrifice, Jesus contrasts the duty of the servant with the loving service of a friend, illuminating the transcendence of friendship over duty, and service over sacrifice.
2. The Vine and the Branches
In this beautiful and profound teaching, Jesus instructs his apostles and believers everywhere on His true nature, our true connection to Him and what we must do to expand the Kingdom and flourish therein. As branches, deriving life from the vine, we are to maintain our living connection with the vine, and bear the fruits of loving service. Branches that bear no fruit are removed, or pruned only to increase fruit bearing. Abiding in the Master and his teachings ensures our open communication with Him, allowing His living spirit to so infuse us, that we are thereby empowered to ask whatever His spirit wills with the assurance that the Father will grant such a petition. He further promises that by bearing these fruits of loving service with one another, all men and women will know that we belong to Him. In concluding the vine and branches lesson, Jesus makes clear the cosmic relations of Universal Father, Creator Son and creature with His statement, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Live in my love even as I live in the Father’s love. If you do as I have taught you, you shall abide in my love even as I have kept the Father’s word and evermore abide in his love.”
Jesus’ use of this ‘vine and branches’ metaphor found ready reception in the minds of the apostles this night, who recalled the existence and meaning of the large emblem of the grape and vine at the entrance to Herod’s temple.
Considerable discussion was given to the Master’s inferences regarding prayer. Had his exact words been remembered and recorded, much sorrow might have been prevented. As it turned out, prayer in Jesus’ name came to be regarded by some as a kind of magical utterance which would ensure the Father’s giving them anything they asked for. Our author asks how long it will take for believers to understand that prayer is a program for taking God’s way, an experience of recognizing and executing the Father’s will, rather than getting our own way.
This section ends with the intriguing statement that Jesus had great difficulty in leading even his apostles to recognize that prayer is a function of spirit-born believers in the spirit dominated kingdom.
Throughout our discussion last week numerous references were made to the levels of meaning. These are formally stated in Jesus’ response to a question by Nathaniel concerning the rule of living found in Paper 147:4, p.1650. As was mentioned, this teaching about the levels of meaning is one of the most important initial things to recognize in the entire revelation. It is the beginning of a whole spectrum of understanding. There are many passages in the revelation where the author is visualizing the levels of meaning and is speaking within them. To really understand these passages, we need to see them in relation to these levels of meaning.