Have you ever noticed when you’re growing a garden that the weeds seem to grow 100 times faster than what you’ve planted? Whether it’s tomatoes, corn or a peach tree, it takes each variety a particular season (sometimes years) in order to enjoy the “fruits” of your labor. And all the while, you have to be continually diligent to water the plants, pull the weeds and provide perpetual loving care in order to produce a crop.
Well, as most Christians (hopefully) know, God considers His Body to be much like a garden:
“And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not.” (Isaiah 15:11)
Like all gardeners desiring to produce a crop, God first had to plant His seed into the earth. This, of course, was His Son Jesus Christ … the Word of God made flesh!
We also know from scripture that in the Book of Genesis, God set a particular “law” into motion:
“And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.” (Genesis 1:11)
If you want tomatoes, you have to plant tomato seeds. If you want corn, you have to plant kernels of corn. Well, God wanted “sons” made after His own image … so He planted the Son of God into the earth that He might “bring forth” His own “adopted sons” through the quickening power of the Word of God.
Jesus knew He was God’s “seed” that needed to be “planted” in the earth. He said:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.” (John 12:24)
He also knew that everywhere He spoke, His words were “seeds” planted in the hearts of all who heard … quickening unto eternal life those who truly believed and acted on those words. So, as a Christian, if you would like a great, spiritual harvest in your walk with the Lord, try “sowing” the Word of God daily into your heart. You will not be disappointed!
Now, all of that being said, let’s take a look at a particular “fruit” which has special meaning to the Lord:
When Jesus was invited to the marriage at Cana, the Father used the occasion to formally separate him from his mother and thrust him into full-time ministry. God did this by creating a need that could only be solved by a miracle. The host of the wedding had run out of wine.
“And the third day there was a marriage in Cana of Galilee; and the mother of Jesus was there: And when they wanted wine, the mother of Jesus saith unto him, They have no wine.” (John 2:1,3)
“And there were set there six waterpots of stone, after the manner of the purifying of the Jews, containing two or three firkins apiece. (John 2:6)
This, by the way, amounted to about 120 gallons of wine by some estimates!
“Jesus saith unto them, Fill the waterpots with water. And they filled them up to the brim.” (John 2:7)
“And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.” (John 2:8)
“When the ruler of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, (he) … called the bridegroom and saith unto him, Every man at the beginning doth set forth good wine; and when men have well drunk, then that which is worse: but thou hast kept the good wine until now.” (John 2:9-10)
The scriptures use “wine” as a metaphor in many places. One of the more significant being Mark 2:22:
“And no man putteth new wine into old bottles: else the new wine doth burst the bottles, and the wine is spilled, and the bottles will be marred: but new wine must be put into new bottles.”
The new wine which Jesus referred to here was, of course, the “infilling” of the Holy Ghost which “newly” born-again “bottles” would receive upon conversion through faith in the Gospel of Christ which was to be preached throughout all nations!
These “bottles” filled with the wine of the Holy Ghost carry special significance in the heart of the Lord in that they represent the “fruit of the vine”!
Jesus, taking up the cup of wine at the Last Supper, said concerning these,
“…this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28)
MINI SERMON ALERT!
Read only if you’re extra hungry!
The blood of Christ now resides in the Spirit. Consider Hebrews 9:14…
“How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
We receive the blood of Christ into our hearts through the administration of the Holy Spirit, much the same way Mary conceived by being overshadowed by the Holy Ghost. Ever wonder how it was possible for Thomas to “thrust his hand” into the open wounds of Christ after His resurrection? The “blood” of the glorified body of Jesus Christ is no longer the physical hemoglobin which sprang from his body on the cross, but rather the Holy Spirit which is promised to every believer.
We know that the Old Testament, which was a “shadow of things to come”, was fulfilled in Christ. So, read the following with that in mind:
“For the life of the flesh (i.e. the life of the Christian) is in the blood (of Christ): and I have given it to you upon the altar (the real one which dwells in the heavenlies) to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood (applied to your heart by the Holy Ghost) that maketh an atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11)
That’s why the scriptures declare that …
“…ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.” (Romans 8:9)
“And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.” (Romans 8:10)
Now, returning to our theme. Jesus said at the last supper concerning His blood of the New Testament:
“But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.” (Matthew 26:29)
Though, in a sense, Christians partake of and produce spiritual fruit in the Kingdom of God now, Jesus was looking past this present life unto an eternal glory in the Kingdom of God to come. Consider the following:
“Then came to him the mother of Zebedee’s children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.” (Matthew 20:20)
“And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.” (Matthew 20:21)
“But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.” (Matthew 20:22)
“And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.” (Matthew 20:23)
We can deduce a number of interesting facts from these verses:
1) That the mother in question was aware that in the eternal Kingdom to come, there will be a hierarchy of saints … and Jesus did not contradict her.
2) That certain “positions” are even now being prepared by the Father for those to whom He chooses to give them.
3) And that some of these “positions” call for the receiving saint to be “baptized” with Christ’s baptism and to “drink” His cup. This would be sharing a cup of the “sufferings” of Christ … eventually leading to a “baptism” of death. This was the purpose of Christ’s stern question to those disciples present of…
“Are ye able…?”
To which they replied:
“We are able.”
This same question and answer applies to many Christians today, though they are unaware of it. Consider the following:
“And they were in the way going up to Jerusalem … and they were afraid. And he … began to tell them what things should happen unto him,” (Mark 10:32)
“Saying, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be delivered unto the chief priests, and unto the scribes; and they shall condemn him to death, and shall deliver him to the Gentiles:” (Mark 10:33)
“And they shall mock him, and shall scourge him, and shall spit upon him, and shall kill him: and the third day he shall rise again.” (Mark 10:34)
The seriousness of these scriptures will lead one to consider what Paul had to say concerning the subject:
“But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.” (Philippians 3:7)
“That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;” (Philippians 3:10)
“If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.” (Philippians 3:11)
It’s interesting that Paul would connect his personal “resurrection” to the sufferings of Christ, is it not?
You see, while most Christians in America are looking to escape “suffering” by all means possible (whether financial, social or physical), Paul embraced his sufferings for Christ’s sake. When faced with his “thorn in the flesh” and after seeking God to remove it from him, Paul exclaimed:
“(Christ) said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
“Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
Paul knew what only a few modern-day Christians dare to accept: That when we “follow on to know the Lord” we will face persecution, affliction and suffering in this present world. By so doing, we become like Moses who chose rather…
“…to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;” (Hebrews 11:25)
“Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.” (Hebrews 11:26)
What is this “recompence of the reward”? The glorified Christ said to John the Revelator:
“And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.” (Revelation 22:12)
Even ordinary saints in the Old Testament were aware of this phenomenon:
“Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection” (Hebrews 11:35)
As bad as the persecution of the first church was, it pales in significance and intensity to what the saints will face in these latter days. For they will be faced with the very system of the man of sin when he is revealed upon the earth!
Again, it is not the intention of this author to debate scenarios concerning “Pre-Trib”, “Mid-Trib” and “Post-Trib”. But it is, however, his intention to shed light upon the connection between the “faithfulness” of the saints (though they are persecuted unto death) and the “rewards” which Christ will bring with him!
One of the most poignant scripture describing this process can be best presented by James 5:7
“Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.”
Beloved, we are the “precious fruit” of the earth in these end times. God has had “long patience” for us to grow up unto Him in all things. As the scriptures declare:
“So is the kingdom of God, as if a man should cast seed into the ground;” (Mark 4:26)
“And should sleep, and rise night and day, and the seed should spring and grow up, he knoweth not how.” (Mark 4:27)
“For the earth bringeth forth fruit of herself (just like Genesis said); first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn in the ear.” (Mark 4:28)
“But when the fruit is brought forth, immediately he putteth in the sickle, because the harvest is come.” (Mark 4:29)
“And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven” (Matthew 24:30)
“And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.” (Matthew 24:31)
This is the harvest of that “corn of wheat” which was planted into the earth by God Himself over 2,000 years ago … maturing into “much fruit”!
“For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” (1 Corinthians 15:22)
“But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.” (1 Corinthians 15:23)
Why does Paul say “every man in his own order? Because Jesus said…
“…many that are first shall be last; and the last first.” (Mark 10:31)
Hence, some that are “first” (in the days of the apostles) shall be last, and some that are “last” (in the closing days of the Beast) will be first in terms of rewards!
Just as God kept the “best wine until last” at the marriage of Cana, so shall He wait until the waning hours of the Gentile rule to bring forth the “fullness” of the “fruit” of the vine which was planted 2,000 years ago at Calvary’s cross!
So, in conclusion, instead of seeking to escape from the sufferings of this life through vain entertainment and distracting activities that provide only a temporary pleasure, we should rather look unto our Father and realize that we…
“…have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but (we) have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15)
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:” (Romans 8:16)
“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.” (Romans 8:17)
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18)
If we are faithful to God in the coming days, we shall surely be partakers of His mercy, grace and ultimate glory in the Kingdom of God. We will certainly hear that…
“…loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.” (Revelation 12:10)
“And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11)
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