Abide with Us

“Abide with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.” —Luke 24:29

THE WORDS QUOTED above from Luke 24:29 were uttered nearly two thousand years ago by two of our Lord’s faithful disciples. The account of the event begins in the 13th verse of the chapter, and continues until the end of the chapter. The conversation took place on the afternoon of the day on which Jesus had been resurrected from the dead.

These two disciples decided to return home to Emmaus, a distance of about seven miles from Jerusalem. As they were going along the way they expressed to each other their sore disappointment concerning Jesus’ recent death. At this particular time they were not yet thoroughly convinced that his resurrection had taken place. Although they had received the message of the women at the tomb that he had been raised from the dead, they said, “But him [we] saw not.” They were both disappointed and discouraged because, instead of Jesus having become a king, he had been cruelly and unjustly crucified; it seemed as though he had been powerless against the devil, who used evil rulers and their agencies to destroy him. The disciples’ hopes of associating with him in his glorious kingdom, of which he had so often spoken, had been dashed to pieces within a few short hours.

As they journeyed along the road, a stranger joined them and began talking with them. In reality he was the resurrected Jesus, but he bore no resemblance to anyone they had ever met before. He spoke to them very sympathetically, asking, “What are you discussing that has made you look so sad?” They stared at him in astonishment and replied, “You surely must be a stranger in Jerusalem not to know of all the things that have happened there in the last few days!”

Jesus asked them, “What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people.” (vs. 19) They assured the stranger that the world had never seen a man or a prophet like him. Then they explained how the chief priests had wrongly accused him, and brought forth false witnesses against him, which had eventuated in his death upon the cross. This had meant to them not only the loss of a very dear friend, but his death had also signified the loss of their hopes and trust that he had been the Messiah, the one who would redeem Israel.

Still not revealing his identity to them, Jesus began to speak to them, reminding them of everything that the prophets had said concerning the Messiah. He began at Moses, and quoting from the words of the Lord’s faithful prophets of old, he opened the Scriptures to them, disclosing the fact that Christ must first suffer and then enter into his glory. Without suffering, he explained, the Messiah could never be the king of glory with power to bless and restore Israel, and all mankind, in God’s due time.

The record in Genesis 22, was no doubt one of the first pictures brought to their attention. There the account is given of the time when Abraham offered up his dearly beloved son in sacrifice. In this allegory, Abraham typified the Heavenly Father, and Isaac pictured Jesus—the Messiah. The ram, actually offered in place of Isaac, represented the sacrificial death of Jesus, as it had so recently taken place. The fact that Isaac, subsequent to this sacrifice, had life, pictured the resurrection of Jesus, who had returned safely to his Father.

Our Lord must have spoken to his two disciples concerning the great covenant God had made with Abraham at that time. (Gen. 22:16-18) “By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: that in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies: and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice.”

Another reminder he no doubt brought to their attention was the deliverance of the Israelites from Egyptian bondage. (Exod. 14) He would have illustrated how this history of the beginning of the nation of Israel pictured the deliverance of the whole world of mankind into the kingdom of Messiah, when, in due time, it would be set up upon the earth.

This would have brought to their minds the Passover lamb, slain the night before their safe passage through the Red Sea, leaving their enemies behind them at the bottom of the waters. Their thoughts were directed to the fact that the death angel slew every firstborn among the Egyptians. But the Israelites’ firstborn were protected by the blood which had been sprinkled on the lintel and on the doorposts of their homes that fateful night. Jesus must have opened up their understanding to the fact that he had been typically represented by that lamb—that his blood poured out a few days ago upon the cross would eventually effect their release from the bondage of sin and death.

Next he no doubt reminded them of the words of John the Baptist. When he had seen Jesus approaching him desiring to be baptized of him in the river Jordan, John said: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29) When Andrew heard John make this profound statement, he ran quickly to find his brother, Simon Peter, to tell him, “We have found the Messiah [the Anointed of God]!”

Jesus surely must have reminded them of the incident recorded in Exodus: 17, which occurred during the Israelites’ wanderings in the wilderness for forty years before entering the Promised Land. As they went upon their journey, following the leading of the pillar of fire by night, and the cloud of smoke by day, which rose from out of the Tabernacle, they found themselves in an extremely arid and desolate land. They were very thirsty because there was no water to drink. “You brought us out of Egypt into this desert, and there is no water to drink,” they complained to their leader, Moses. But, they were, in fact, murmuring against God.

Moses cried to the Lord for help when the people began to gather into an angry mob, picking up stones and surrounding him with the intention of stoning him to death and then choosing a new leader. The Lord saved him from this frightening situation, and told Moses to take his rod and to go to a particular rock in Horeb, and there to smite the rock, and water would come forth abundantly for the people to drink! What a remarkable miracle! Jesus would explain to his disciples as they traveled along the road to Emmaus, that he was indeed the rock pictured so long, ago, who had been smitten in order that the water of life might gush out in abundance for the refreshment and revival of the dying world of mankind.

Then the sacrifices of the Atonement Day must have come into the discussion. In Leviticus 16, these sacrifices are described. The bullock was sacrificed for the sins of the people, making it possible for them to remain in covenant relationship with God. Jesus was represented by that bullock. The High Priest who had entered into the Most Holy to sprinkle the blood of the bullock upon the Mercy Seat for the forgiveness of the sins of the people, also represented Jesus’ presentation of his shed blood to his Father in heaven after his resurrection, in full atonement for the sins of the whole world—which would become effective at the time of his Second Advent to bless all the peoples of the earth.

Again, another picture given during this same period of time was most probably explained by our Lord to have illustrated how he, the Messiah, must suffer and die for sin first, before he could bless the world. This was the type of the copper serpent raised in the wilderness upon a pole. The Israelites had again engaged in murmurings against their God, Jehovah. The Lord sent fiery serpents among them which bit them and caused many of them to die. When they came to Moses confessing their sins, they asked him to pray to Jehovah that he take away the serpents. As a result, and at the Lord’s instruction, the copper serpent was made, and it is recorded that “it [came] to pass that every one that [was] bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.” (Num. 21:8) Jesus must have explained that the copper serpent represented sin, and that he, himself, at the time of his crucifixion took the place of the sinner in order that all sinners might be made righteous through faith in him who took the sinners’ place in death.

The account says, “And beginning at Moses, and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. … And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the Scriptures?” (Luke 24:27,32) And so he must have proceeded to bring to their attention the Psalms, Isaiah, and all the other prophets, which had foretold the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

When they finally reached Emmaus, the wonderfully knowledgeable stranger indicated to them that he meant to travel further. But the disciples urged him to stay with them, for, as they said, evening was drawing on. Jesus did not force his company or his lessons upon the disciples, as likewise he waits for us to invite him to abide with us as our teacher and leader. He encourages us to recognize our need for him; to ask that we might “learn of him, that our joy might be full.” (I John 1:4) This same thought is brought out in Revelation 3:20: “Behold, I [Jesus] stand at the door [of our hearts], and knock. If any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”

It is vital that Christ ‘abide’ with us, and in us, and for us to abide in him. This implies that we must first have come to him in faith and trust, knowing that he is our Redeemer and Savior, and dedicating our lives to his service. When our consecration has been accepted by God, we become members of Christ’s body, he being the Head, and we being lesser members. This illustration of the body is given several times in Scriptures, and Paul tells us that God “hath put all things under his [Jesus’] feet, and gave him to be the Head over all things to the church, which is his body.”—Eph. 1:22,23

During the nearly 2,000 years of the Gospel Age, a selective initiation has been issued by God to become part of the body of Christ. There is only one door through which any may enter into this ‘body’ arrangement. It is the door of sacrifice, or baptism into Christ’s death. We are accepted by God only if we completely give up our own will and take, instead, his will, pledging ourselves to walk in Jesus’ steps as his followers, his disciples. “Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into his death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.”—Rom. 6:4

Even this is not sufficient. Even after having received the witness of the Spirit that we have been accepted by God through the receiving of his Holy Spirit, we must be constantly alert to continue to abide in Christ. “He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.”—I John 2:6

Whoever has a portion of the Holy Spirit and is controlled by it, is a member of the body of Christ and will seek to walk in the footsteps of the Master, doing the will of God in every avenue of his life. We will not trust our own impressions, or our own concepts of what is right. The Word of the Lord is to abide in us and to give us direction by which we can govern our lives. This was the way in which our Master lived. He said, I come not to do my own will, “but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” And so it is to be with us. To abide in him, we must walk as he walked, following the precepts taught to us by God’s Word, the Bible. It is also important that we do these things joyfully. As David prophetically spoke concerning Jesus, “I delight to do thy will, O my God; thy Law is written in my heart.”—Ps. 40:7,8

Paul told us, “By one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.” (I Cor. 12:13,14) Paul used this simple illustration of the human body to show us the unity and oneness that must exist in the body of Christ. There can be only one Head, which is Christ. When we gave up our own will, we agreed to look to our new Head for direction. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 2:5) Jesus prayed to his Heavenly Father that “they all [the members of his body] may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.” (John 17:21) This is the spirit, the oneness, that must exist in the body, as well as in another illustration—in that of the ‘true vine’. This is what it means for Jesus to abide in us!

In John 15, our Lord Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches is recorded, which concerned our relationship with him. As he so often did, he used a familiar, natural example to illustrate this lesson. In the first twelve verses of the chapter, the word ‘abide’ was used nine times! It comes from the Greek verb meno, which is translated ‘abide’, ‘continue’, ‘dwell’, ‘endure’, ‘remain’, or ‘tarry’. In this lesson all the words translated abide in the King James Version are from the same Greek word, meno.

We read: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: he that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

“Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love, even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.”—John 15:1-12

In the first verse, Jesus identified himself as the true vine, which implies that there is also a false vine. We are intensely interested in making certain that we have nothing to do with the false vine; we are anxious to remain within the true vine, which represents the true church of God. Suffice it to say, that the false vine represents a false church system, or the “vine of the earth,” with which God eventually will deal, as described in Revelation 14:18-20.

In this illustration of the vineyard, our Heavenly Father is the husbandman who plants, owns, and cares for the vine, and it is because of his wisdom and effort that it yields fruit. Our Master said that he is the root of this vine, and we are the branches. If we abide in him the result will be that we will bring forth much fruit. Jesus clearly taught us that without abiding in him we cannot grow into a healthy, vigorous vine, nor can we bear any fruit. This is very easy to understand when we look at a natural vine. Separate a branch from the root, and it dies almost immediately, and if there is any fruit upon the branch, it becomes withered and worthless.

When the Holy Spirit is received into a good and honest heart, the immediate result will be a sprouting forth of new growth. At first the tender new branches have only tiny buds, but these truly indicate that there is life in the plant—that it is healthy and growing. The husbandman is very happy to see this evidence of life and growth. But if the vine is allowed to follow its own course, when it has grown to its full size, ripe fruit in abundance would not occur. In order to produce a strong vine which produces a lush and plentiful harvest, pruning must take place. And so the husbandman pinches off the ends of the new shoots. This is done carefully in order not to do injury to the vine, but simply to make it branch out in various directions, thereby causing a thicker growth, and more possibilities for fruit to develop. This is a painful process, but it is necessary.

And so, sometimes the Great Husbandman ‘prunes’ us by taking away earthly prosperity, lands, houses, wealth, or by permitting persecution, loss of earthly friendships, or loss of health. The tendrils of our hearts may extend too far afield and cling too closely to the earth, hindering us from bearing the fruit which he seeks. “Before I was afflicted I went astray: but now have I kept thy word,” the psalmist wrote.—Ps. 119:67

What are the fruits which the husbandman desires to cultivate in his vine? Paul, that faithful apostle, enumerates them as being: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” And the Apostle Peter said, “If these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.”—II Pet. 1:8

In his list, Paul selected love as the first quality identified as a fruit of the Spirit. And he confirmed this when he said, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not [love], I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not [love], I am nothing.”—I Cor. 13:1,2

Our Lord Jesus also confirmed this thought by saying, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” “I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:35,15) How can we love each other with the same love that the Lord Jesus had for his disciples? As we become more and more filled with the Holy Spirit, we will come closer to the standard of perfect love which he set.

“As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you.” (John 13:9) Consider the close relationship, the oneness that existed between Jesus and his Heavenly Father. Jesus was the apple of his eye, and “he received from God the Father honor and glory,” when he said, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (II Pet. 1:17) Jesus said that as the Heavenly Father “hath loved me, so have I loved you.” What words of comfort, hope and joy!

“These things have I spoken unto you,” our Lord assured us, “that my joy might remain [abide] with you, and that your joy might be full.” His joy was to do the will of God. If this is our joy, he will abide in us!

“Those things which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall [abide] with you.”—Phil. 4:9

Dawn Bible Students Association
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