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December 10, 2012

Secret of the Vine

A few years ago, a Christian brother called me from out of town and asked me a question. He said, "Do you know the secret of the vine?" Initially, I was of the opinion he was asking about the divinity of Christ. After I got off the phone I was puzzled and wondering, what in the heck did he mean by that question. I was of the impression he was talking about "divine." Later I realized, he was not talking about divinity. I went to bed that evening still very worried trying to figure out this joke played on me by a Christian brother. I woke up the following morning, and my Spirit professor started to lecture me. For about twenty minutes, the Holy Spirit lectured me, and connecting different parts of the Bible to make a point. This article is the summary of what the Holy Spirit explained to me about the Secret of the Vine as I could remember it.

The Holy Spirit explained to me that Jesus spoke in parables and used figures of speech to deliver his messages to the people. Inside those parables, Jesus left many coded messages that nobody can understand, but the Holy Spirit. This was why Jesus said, "The Holy Spirit will guide you to the truth" (St. John 16:13). Meaning, the Holy Spirit is the only person who can correctly interpret the Bible for us because he has an inside information from the heart of God. I started to pay serious attention to the explanation of the Holy Spirit regarding this "Secret of the Vine."

In this interesting explanation, the Holy Spirit told me that when Jesus called himself the "True Vine" in John chapter 15:1, he was using the statement as a metaphor. Meaning, as the Vine produces fruit of which the juice comes from, so the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit. According to the Bible, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). In essence if we walk in the Spirit, we will bear the fruit of the Spirit. We do not produce the fruit, but bearers of the fruit. As the Vine produces this sweet juice we drink and enjoy, so the Holy Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit. Jesus was therefore telling us that he is the "True Vine" meaning, anybody who wants to bear the fruit of the Word, or to be the radiance of the glory of God, that person MUST abide in Jesus. Because Jesus said, "Without me, you can do nothing" (St. John 15:5).

Three Parts to the Mystery

The first part of the Secret of the Vine is Jesus comparing the fruit of the Holy Spirit to the fruit of the vine tree as I just explained in the previous section. The second apart of the mystery is Jesus asking all those who are working for him to be dependent on him for the source of strength. Jesus produces the fruit; we are only called to be the bearers. Sadly today, many people depend on other people to give them the interpretations of the Bible instead of letting the Holy Spirit leads the way. In the process of trusting human knowledge, many people are led astray and they ended up missing the point. This is extremely very difficult to those who attended seminary school who look at everything in the Bible through the eyes of their college professors. The result is the twisted interpretation of the Word of God using human cognition. Consequently, Paul asked us to walk in the Spirit, and we will not fulfill the desires of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Many people approach the interpretation of the Bible through their human knowledge as dictated by human desires. In the process, they ended up trusting human knowledge more than trusting the knowledge of the Holy Spirit. Sadly, some people including some preachers believe they have to use their human brainpower to explain the Bible, and they error. Bible interpretation is different from applications of the text that can open to different exercises based on the subject matter, and the situation under question.

The third mystery of the "Secret of the Vine" was indicated when Jesus told his disciples he was very interested in eating this supper with them. He then said, he would no longer eat this again with them until in the kingdom of his Father in Heaven.

"With fervent desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer. For I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God" (St. Luke 22:15-16).

"For I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes" (St. Luke 22:18).

Interestingly, Jesus left a lot of things for us to chew in these verses because he was referring to the fruit of the vine as his blood in a metaphorical way. This is why we celebrate the Holy Communion with wine today. The wine is supposed to represent the blood of Christ that was shed for us. But the wine is not blood. Similarly, the bread represents the flesh of Jesus broken for us. But the bread is not Jesus’ flesh. If the bread and the vine become more than representations of the flesh and blood respectively, we can be accused of cannibalism.

Jesus was telling his disciples that the next time he would eat such dinner with them would be at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb in Heaven as indicated in the Book of Revelation (Rev. 19:9). The next question people have been asking over the ages is, What was the cup Jesus refused to drink from?

Mystery Cup Jesus Refused to Drink From

When Jesus was being crucified, he was offered sour wine mingled with gall to drink. When Jesus tasted it, he would not drink it (St. Matthew 27:34). This incident including the events that transpired in the Garden of Gethsemane were foreshadowing of a very significant event many people probably missed. For many years, I was puzzled by Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane to God. Jesus wanted God to remove this cup from him. People over the years interpreted this as being Jesus hesitation to go to the cross and die. The explanation was, the human part of Jesus was revealed and played out before his disciples shortly before he was arrested. However, it is difficult to believe that the same Jesus who was thanking and asking Judas to go ahead and do what he had to do setting the ball rolling for Jesus’ journey to the cross was hesitant when his time came to go to the cross.

A better explanation for the Mystery Cup was not the death Jesus was facing on the cross. Jesus knew he had to die. That was why he came to this earth. He blasted Peter when Peter indicated Jesus should not die on the cross. Even during his farewell message to his disciples, he was telling them to rejoice with him because he was going back to his Father who sent him. All of a sudden, the same Jesus became hesitant on the transport plane back to God! Those events do not fit together.

The "Mystery Cup" Jesus did not want to drink was not his physical death on the cross. Many people claimed God did not answer Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Wrong! God did answer Jesus’ prayer. The way the entire scenario was initially set up was for Jesus to combine his death on the cross with the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, shortly after his resurrection. Jesus delayed that celebration of his wedding to the church to allow more people to be saved so they would be able to attend the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. This was why Jesus did not want to drink the wedding toast and he warned his disciples at the last Supper that it would not happen again until in his Father’s kingdom. So, the celebration of Jesus resurrection took place without the Marriage Supper of the Lamb which was delayed for thousands of years to allow more people to be invited to this giant banquet in Heaven. God the father granted Jesus request, that was why God himself declared, "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb" and he said to me, "These are the true saying of God" (Rev 19:9).

Those who study the Bible very well know that each time God made a statement in the New Testament, it was for an affirmation of what the Son already said, or about to do. God made this statement in the Book of Revelation as an affirmative answer to Jesus’ request in the Garden of Gethsemane. In the New Testament, God has already handed everything to his Son. All he did from that point was to affirm his Son, Jesus Christ. So, the cup Jesus refused to drink was his wedding toast at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. This incident and the delay by Jesus showed the unbelievable love he displayed to us on earth. Instead of the celebration of his victory after death with a wedding banquet, Jesus wanted a delay of the Wedding Supper to allow more people to receive that invitation on earth.

By Yinka Vidal, author, Closer Walk With Jesus