Fruit of the Branches

(Another dream, slightly longer.)

I was placed in the middle of the Lord’s Table, equidistant from Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Though I was myself, I was also a clay bottle, filled with a dark viscous substance I could only guess at. The only other notable feature on the table was a large stand that had three protrusions, each one going to a goblet in the hand of the Three-In-One.

Before I could ask any questions, I was picked up and tipped on end. I saw/felt the dark, sticky fluid pour out of me and into the stand. From this vantage point I could see that the stand had a shallow bowl in the center and three channels that ran the length of the protrusions. The fluid filled the bowl, then began to flow into the goblets. After I had been emptied, I was placed on the table again and watched as each of the three lifted the goblet to their lips. They drank and the expression on their face was that of pure joy. I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment (it was similar to pride but much more pure) that whatever was in me had given them such pleasure.

As I sat on the table, enjoying their presence I became aware that I was filling up again. Somehow I was able to peer inside myself and noticed the dark fluid rising from the bottom and welling up within my clay form. After a time, I was picked up and emptied again. This scenario was repeated several times until, in one horrifying moment, hardly anything came out. The look of disappointment that flickered across each of those three faces is enough to grieve the soul for eternity. I didn’t understand what was different this time, I could only look imploringly at my God and wait for Him to answer.

When He began to speak, I was instantly transported to His side, even though I could still see the bottle that looked like me sitting on the table.

“What do you think that was that we were drinking,” the Father asked. (‘I don’t know,’ didn’t seem like an appropriate answer, so I thought a little harder.) “My works and service,” I asked a bit sheepishly. His shake of the head confirmed my suspicion that I was incorrect. “I truly don’t know, Lord. Please tell me.”

“It was you dying to yourself,” interjected the Spirit. “Every time that you offered yourself up and crucified your flesh your bottle would fill. The crushing of your worldly desires for the sake of relationship with us was what We were enjoying so very much. It is, by far, the most cherished gift that you can off to Us. Just as grapes must be crushed to make wine, you must die to yourself to release this most precious present.” 

Jesus spoke, “I shall not drink of the fruit of the vine again until I drink it new with you in the Kingdom of God… but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the fruit of My branches,” He said with a wink. He continued, “The wine you bless when you share the Eucharist, what is it?”

“Your blood, shed for me and for all people for the forgiveness of sin,” I answered in rote liturgical form. Jesus nodded absently, seemingly impatient for me to spit it all out. I wondered then how taxing it must be for an Omniscient God to honor a free-willed person who gave wrong answers and have any sort of conversation at all. Though, it may have been the mechanical answer that was more upsetting…

“Yes, that is true. But my blood, symbolized by the wine, was my very self poured out. It was the death that I died before the cross in the garden, when I killed my own will to pray ‘Not my will, but Yours be done.’ Unless you drink of that cup and eat of my body, freely offered in obedience, you will have no part of Me. Obedience to the will of God and sacrifice for the love of God, that is why I named it ‘The Great Thanksgiving,’ not because I blessed a cup and a loaf. I was thankful to offer myself to do the Father’s will, regardless of the cost to Myself, for I knew it gave Him great joy. The wine made from that sacrifice is what we shall drink for all Eternity. That wine, made from the Vine, is what makes glad the city of God and it can only be properly enjoyed when the Kingdom has come, My Father’s will is done, and we have become One.”

I paused to let that all sink in, feverishly praying for the Holy Spirit to bring this to mind when I woke up. Then, I remembered the time when Jesus had wanted a drink, but nothing came out. “Lord! What happened when you couldn’t pour me out?”

The sadness returned around Jesus’ eyes as He said, “You resisted me. You would not submit to my discipline, so there was no juice to fill your bottle. Only what is voluntarily given goes there. The rest is wasted outside the City.”

The tone of His voice caused me to weep in intercession. The anguish in His voice was more terrible than any anger I had experienced in the physical world. I resolved then and there to never disappoint my King by resisting His will. I want to please Him with this voluntary treasure that He so deeply desires. He did not need to raise His voice or speak harsh words to bring about this lament in my soul. Simply seeing the look in His eyes and the scars on His hands was enough.

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