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Humble Hero

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    Peter’s Buried Sin

    Then Peter spoke, protesting, “Even if all are made to stumble, yet I will not be.” Jesus had warned him that he would deny his Savior that very night. Now He repeated the warning: “Assuredly, I say to you that today, even this night, before the rooster crows twice, you will deny Me three times.” But Peter only “spoke more vehemently, ‘If I have to die with You, I will not deny You!’ And they all said likewise.” Mark 14:29-31.HH 313.5

    When Peter said he would follow his Lord to prison and to death, he meant every word of it, but he did not know himself. Hidden in his heart were elements of evil that circumstances would fan into life. Unless he became conscious of his danger, these things would result in his eternal ruin. The Savior saw a self-love in him that would be stronger even than his love for Christ. Peter needed to distrust himself and to have a deeper faith in Christ. When on the Sea of Galilee he was about to sink, he cried, “Lord, save me!” So now if he had cried, “Save me from myself,” Jesus would have kept him secure. But Peter thought it was cruel that Jesus seemed to distrust him, and he became more persistent in his self-confidence.HH 313.6

    Jesus could not save His disciples from the test, but He did not leave them comfortless. Before the denial, they had the assurance of forgiveness. After His death and resurrection, they knew that they were forgiven and were dear to the heart of Christ.HH 314.1

    Jesus and the disciples were on the way to Gethsemane, at the foot of the Mount of Olives. The moon was shining brightly, revealing a flourishing grapevine. Drawing His disciples’ attention to it, Jesus said, “I am the true vine.” The vine with its clinging tendrils represents Himself. The palm tree, the cedar, and the oak stand alone, requiring no support. But the vine entwines around the trellis, and in this way it climbs toward heaven. So Christ in His humanity had to depend on divine power. “I can of Myself do nothing.” John 5:30.HH 314.2

    “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” On the hills of Palestine, our heavenly Father had planted this goodly Vine. Many were attracted by the beauty of this Vine, declaring its heavenly origin. But the leaders in Israel trampled the plant under their unholy feet. After they thought they had killed it, the heavenly Vinedresser took it and replanted it on the other side of the wall. The Vine Stock was to be no longer visible. It was hidden from the violent assaults of men. But the Vine’s branches hung over the wall, and through them grafts could still be united to the Vine.HH 314.3

    “The connection of the branch with the Vine,” Jesus said, “represents the relation His followers are to maintain with Him.” The branch is engrafted into the Living Vine, and fiber by fiber, vein by vein, it grows into the Vine Stock. So the Christian receives life through connection with Christ. The sinner unites His weakness to Christ’s strength, his emptiness to Christ’s fullness. Then he has the mind of Christ. The humanity of Christ has touched our humanity, and our humanity has touched divinity.HH 314.4

    We must keep this union unbroken. Christ said, “Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me.” This is no off-and-on connection. The branch becomes a part of the Living Vine. “The life you have received from Me,” Jesus said, “can be preserved only by continual fellowship. Without Me, you cannot overcome sin or resist temptation.” We are to cling to Jesus and by faith receive from Him the perfection of His own character.HH 314.5

    The root sends its nourishment through the branch to the farthest twig. “He who abides in Me,” Jesus said, “and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” When we live by faith on the Son of God, the fruits of the Spirit will show in our lives; not one will be missing.HH 314.6

    “My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away.” There may be an apparent connection with Christ without a real union with Him by faith. A profession of religion places us in the church, but the character shows whether we are connected with Christ. If we bear no fruit, we are false branches. “If anyone does not abide in Me,” Christ said, “he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.”HH 314.7

    “Every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” From the Twelve who had followed Jesus, one, a withered branch, was about to be taken away. The rest would pass under the pruning knife of bitter trial. The pruning will cause pain, but it is the Father who applies the knife. He does not work with a reckless hand. Excessive foliage requires pruning to keep it from drawing away the life current from the fruit. Overgrowth must be cut out to give room for the healing beams of the Sun of Righteousness. The Vinedresser prunes away the harmful growth so that the fruit may be more abundant.HH 315.1

    “By this My Father is glorified,” Jesus said, “that you bear much fruit.” Through you, God desires to reveal the holiness, kindness, and compassion of His own character. Yet the Savior does not ask the disciples to work to bear fruit. He tells them to abide in Him. Through the Word, Christ abides in His followers. The life of Christ in you produces the same fruits as in Him. Living in Christ, clinging to Christ, supported by Christ, drawing nourishment from Christ, you bear fruit after the likeness of Christ.HH 315.2

    Jesus’ very first instruction when He was alone with His disciples in the upper chamber was, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.” This commandment was new to the disciples, for they had not loved one another as Christ had loved them. But through His life and death they would receive a new understanding of love. The command to love one another had a new meaning in the light of His self-sacrifice.HH 315.3

    When people are bound together not by force or self-interest, but by love, they show the working of an influence that is more than human. It is evidence that God is restoring His image in humanity. This love, visible in the church, will surely stir Satan’s anger. “If the world hates you,” Jesus said, “you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know Him who sent Me.” You are to carry the gospel forward in the midst of opposition, peril, loss, and suffering.HH 315.4

    As the world’s Redeemer, Christ was constantly confronted with apparent failure. He seemed to do little of the work He longed to do. Satanic influences were constantly working to oppose His way. But He would not be discouraged. Through Isaiah He declares,HH 315.5

    “‘I have labored in vain,
    I have spent my strength for nothing
    and in vain;
    Yet surely my just reward is with the Lord,
    And my work with my God.’”
    Isaiah 49:4
    HH 315.6

    Jesus rested on this word, and He gave Satan no advantage. When the deepest sorrow was closing in on His heart, He said to His disciples, “The ruler of this world is coming, and he has nothing in Me.” “The ruler of this world is judged.” Now shall he be thrown out. John 12:31.HH 316.1

    Christ knew that when He would exclaim, “It is finished!” all heaven would triumph. His ear caught the distant music and the shouts of victory in the heavenly realm. He knew that the name of Christ would be praised from world to world throughout the universe. He knew that truth, armed with the Holy Spirit, would conquer in the contest with evil. He knew that the life of His trusting disciples would be like His, a series of uninterrupted victories, not appearing that way to human sight, but recognized as such in the great hereafter.HH 316.2

    Christ did not fail, neither was He discouraged, and His followers are to exhibit a faith of the same enduring nature. They are to live as He lived and work as He worked. Instead of complaining about difficulties, they are to overcome them, to despair of nothing.HH 316.3

    Christ intends that heaven’s order and divine harmony will be represented in His church and on earth. In this way, through His people He will receive a large revenue of glory. Filled with the righteousness of Christ, the church is His storehouse, in which the riches of His grace and love are to appear in full display. Christ looks on His people in their purity and perfection as the reward of His humiliation and the supplement of His glory.HH 316.4

    With strong, hopeful words, the Savior ended His instruction. He had finished the work God had given Him to do. He had revealed the Father’s character and gathered out those who were to continue His work on earth.HH 316.5

    As a consecrated High Priest, Christ interceded for His people: “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are. ... I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one. ... That the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me.”HH 316.6

    Christ gave His chosen church into the Father’s arms. For Him the last battle with Satan waited, and He went out to meet it.HH 316.7

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