WORLD GOSPEL KINGDOM TRACTS
Unlocking the Mystery of Human Life
Life Processed for Multiplication
In this message we come to John 20, a chapter about the Lord’s resurrection. The Lord’s death was for His resurrection. In John 12:24 He said that He was the grain of wheat which would fall into the ground and die that it might be released to impart its life into many other grains. In other words, He had to die that He might rise up and become many grains. This seems strange and mysterious to the human mind. The human mind has never entertained the thought that there is such a thing as resurrection following death. Even Satan thought that death would put an end to the Lord Jesus. To Satan, death was the end. But to the Lord, death was not the end; it was the pathway for Him to enter into resurrection. Thus, to the Lord, death was not a defeat but a way to victory. By being put into death, He gained the victory because death became a door and an entrance into resurrection. Indeed, His death was for His resurrection. Without death, He never could have produced the Church. Without death, He never could have regenerated us to be the members of His Body. Therefore, everything was dependent upon the Lord’s death which led into resurrection.
The record in the Gospel of John regarding the Lord’s resurrection is different from that in the other three Gospels. The record of the Lord’s resurrection in Matthew, Mark, and Luke is nearly the same. John’s record, however, is vastly different. The Gospel of John always has the viewpoint of life. According to John’s Gospel, the Lord has come to be the expression of God to be received by us as life, and He died and resurrected to impart Himself into us as life. If we would understand this book, we must keep this viewpoint in mind. This same viewpoint is seen in this record of the Lord’s resurrection. John Chapters 20 and 21 are written from this point of view, showing how the Lord was released by His death and imparted into us by His resurrection. The main purpose of these two chapters is that, after and by His resurrection, the Lord will come into us and be one with us.
The whole Gospel of John is directed toward resurrection. The purpose of the Lord’s incarnation as a man was that He might impart Himself into many people and reproduce many sons of God. He was the only begotten Son of God, but God needed the reproduction and the multiplication of His only begotten Son. The only way in which the only begotten Son of God could be reproduced and multiplied was by death and resurrection. For example, the only possible way for a grain of wheat to be reproduced and multiplied into many grains is the way of death and resurrection. As we have seen, the entire Gospel of John points in this direction—toward the reproduction and multiplication of the only begotten Son of God. In this way, the only begotten Son becomes the many sons (Romans 8:29). In order to have His corporate expression, God requires the many sons. For this purpose, the only begotten Son of God had to be released through death and imparted into us through resurrection.
We have been considering how life was processed for multiplication. After passing through the examination, the sentencing, and the testing of death, He rested in human honor. Then, after passing through the death portion of the process, Christ resurrected in divine glory (John 20:1-13, 17). Now, having resurrected, He is in the divine glory.
The Lord resurrected “on the first day of the week” (John 20:1). The resurrection of the Lord was a new start opening the way to a new generation and a new age. This is why the Lord resurrected “on the first day of the week.” This day is the greatest day in the Bible. That it is called “the first day of the week” means that it is a new beginning. A week is a period of seven days, and the first day denotes a new start. Why did the Lord not rise up on the sixth or seventh day, or on any other day of the week? Because His resurrection ushered in a new period, a new age, a new generation. In the old creation there were seven days. God created for six days and rested on the seventh. These seven days were the generation of the old creation. By the resurrection of the Lord Jesus another generation was newly started. The old creation belonged to the seven days. Now, after the seven days, there is a new start with another first day. In other words, by the resurrection of the Lord, the old creation has passed away and a new creation has begun; the old generation is over and the new generation has started. Thus, the first day of another week signifies the beginning of a new creation, a new generation, and a new age.
Have you ever noticed the type in the Old Testament which indicated that the Lord would resurrect on the first day of the week? In Leviticus 23:10, 11, and 15, a sheaf of the firstfruit of the harvest was offered to the Lord as a wave offering on the “morrow after the Sabbath.” That sheaf of the firstfruits was a type of Christ as the firstfruit in resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23). Christ resurrected exactly on the day after the Sabbath. In these verses in Leviticus Chapter 23, the term “the first day of the week” is not used; instead, another term is used—“the morrow after the Sabbath.” The Sabbath is the seventh day, and the morrow after the Sabbath is the first day of the week. The firstfruits of the harvest were offered to the Lord “on the morrow after the Sabbath,” meaning the first day of the following week. The firstfruits of the harvest typify the resurrected Christ. He is the firstfruit of resurrection. Since the Lord resurrected from the dead as the firstfruit of the harvest, when was the firstfruit of the harvest offered to God? It was on the morrow after the Sabbath, that is, on the first day of the week. This is not only a type but also a prophecy which was fulfilled in John Chapter 20.
The firstfruit of the harvest offered to the Lord was the wave offering signifying resurrection. The wave offering is contrasted with the heave offering. The wave offering was offered with a back-and-forth motion signifying Christ in resurrection; the heave offering was lifted with an up-and-down motion signifying Christ in ascension. To wave indicates constant motion. Hence, Christ is moving in life because He has resurrected. He is the wave offering on the first day of the week.
Another matter to be considered here is the circumcision of the children of Israel. On what day did God instruct them to be circumcised? It was on the eighth day (Genesis 17:12). After a period of seven days, there is the first day of another period of seven days—that is, the eighth day. The significance of the Lord’s instructing the children of Israel to be circumcised on the eighth day was that they had to eliminate their old nature and live the resurrected life. They were born naturally and had to cut off their old nature and have a new nature which lives by the resurrection life. Thus, the Israelites were commanded to be circumcised on the eighth day. Colossians 2:11 and 12 declare that in Christ we all have been circumcised by His cross. It is God’s intention that His people put off the old nature and put on the new nature that they might live in the resurrection life. This is something of the eighth day, the first day of the week. This simply denotes resurrection because resurrection is a new beginning for a new generation in a new creation.
By His all-inclusive death, Christ terminated the old creation, which had been completed in six days plus one Sabbath day. In His resurrection, He germinated the new creation with the divine life. Hence, it is the beginning of a new “week”—a new age. The day of His resurrection was appointed by God. Psalm 118:24 says, “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.” If we read this verse in its context, we shall see that it refers to the day of the Lord’s resurrection. The day of His resurrection was a special day, a day appointed by God. The day of the Lord’s resurrection was prophesied as being “this day” in Psalm 2:7, which is quoted in Acts 13:33 and Hebrews 1:5. When the Lord Jesus was still walking on earth, He prophesied that He would be crucified and that He would rise up from the dead on the third day (Matthew 16:21; John 2:19, 22). This “third day” was the first day of the week. Later, this day was called by the early Christians “the Lord’s day” (Revelation 1:10). What a wonderful day it was!
It should also be pointed out that the Lord was not only resurrected on the first day of the week, but also during the first part of the day. He resurrected in the morning, not in the evening. Once again this signifies a new start, a new beginning, a new period, a new generation, a new age, a new creation, and a new day. The resurrection of the Lord is the beginning of a new day because He resurrected early in the morning of the first day.
Christ resurrected as “the firstfruit” of “resurrection” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). In resurrection He was begotten as the Firstborn Son of God. As the unique, only begotten Son of God, He did not need to be begotten, but in order for the only begotten Son to become the Firstborn Son He had to be born in resurrection (Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5). On the day of His resurrection, Christ was born to be the Firstborn Son of God and “the Firstborn from among the dead” in order to be “the Head of the Body, the Church” (Colossians 1:18).
When the Lord Jesus resurrected, He left the old creation in the tomb (John 20:1-10). Peter entered into the tomb and “beheld the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief which was on His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded up in a place apart” (John 20:6-7). Before the body of Jesus was buried, it was bound in linen (John 19:40). This means that He went into the tomb with something of the old creation, indicating that the old creation was brought into the tomb by His burial. All the things which were cast off from the Lord’s resurrected body and left in His tomb signify the old creation, which He wore into the tomb. He was crucified with the old creation and buried with it. But He resurrected from within it, leaving it in the tomb and becoming the firstfruit of the new creation.
Everything left in the tomb was a testimony to the Lord’s resurrection. If these things had not been left there in a good order, it would have been difficult for Peter and John to believe (John 20:8) that the Lord had not been taken away by someone but had resurrected by Himself. These things were offered to the Lord and wrapped about Him by His two disciples, Joseph and Nicodemus (John 19:38-42). What they wrought on the Lord in their love to Him became very useful in the Lord’s testimony. The Lord resurrected from the dead, leaving all the old creation which He had brought into the tomb as a testimony that He had walked away from death.
In the eyes of God, the entire old creation was buried in that tomb. This is a wonderful fact, whether you believe it or not. The old creation, including your old man and your old self, was buried in the tomb with Jesus and left there. When the all-inclusive Christ went into the tomb, we went there with Him. When He resurrected, He left us there. In this universe there is such a wonderful, all-inclusive tomb where our old man has been buried and still remains. Now our old man is in the tomb, and our resurrected new man is in the Church.
The cloths and the handkerchief were left in the tomb in a very good order (John 20:7). Who took the linen cloths and the handkerchief from off the Lord Jesus, and who folded the handkerchief and left it in a good order? It was not done by angels but by the Lord Jesus Himself. The proof of this is the resurrection of Lazarus in chapter eleven. After Lazarus had been raised from the dead and had come out of the tomb, he was “bound hands and feet with burial cloths, and his face was bound about with a handkerchief” (John 11:44). Hence, Jesus said to the people, “Loose him and let him go” (John 11:44). Lazarus needed help to be released from his burial cloths because he was the resurrected one, not the resurrecting One. But the Lord Jesus was the resurrecting One, not the resurrected one. He rose up by Himself and did not need the help of angels. The angels were merely observers. If the angels had removed the wrappings, it would have meant that the Lord was unable to rise up from the dead Himself.
I believe that at a certain point the Lord might have said to death, “Death, your time is over. Now I shall rise up, walk out of your domain, remove the wrappings from off My body, put everything in a good order, and leave it in the tomb as a testimony that I have raised Myself up from among the dead.” Then the Lord might have said good-bye to death and walked away. In principle, at least, it must have been this way. The Lord was not in a rush. He did not run excitedly away from the tomb like a kidnap victim who hurriedly flees after he has been released. No, the Lord was at peace and very much at ease. He might simply have taken a good look at death, finding that it was powerless to do anything with Him. Although death tried its best to retain Him, this was impossible. Being very much at ease, the Lord removed the wrappings, folded the handkerchief, and put them in a good order. Death watched Him as He easily did this. He was unafraid and nothing threatened Him. He might have said, “Death, I have finished My mission. You can do nothing with Me, and I am not afraid of you. Now is the time for Me to walk out of your domain. I am not in a hurry. I could stay here for another day if I wanted to, but now it’s time to leave.” This was the true situation when the Lord rose from the dead.
The testimony of the Lord’s resurrection was from two sides—from man and from the angels. As we have seen, all the wrappings were offered to the Lord by two honorable disciples. Eventually, what they provided the Lord out of their love for Him became a solid and substantial testimony of His resurrection. This was the testimony from man’s side. As we shall see later, God sent two angels to be a testimony from the heavens. Hence, there were two sides of the testimony of the Lord’s resurrection, one from man on earth and the other from the angels in heaven. Praise the Lord that both man and angels, earth and heaven, are a testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
Verses and footnotes are taken from The Recovery Version of the Holy Bible and Words of Ministry from Brother Witness Lee, The Life-Study of John Messages 42-45 and [with personal enlightenment and inspiration]. Both are published by Living Stream Ministry, Anaheim, CA. All Rights Reserved.
Let us walk becomingly as in the day; not in reveling and drunkenness, not in fornication and licentiousness, not in strife and jealousy. But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh to fulfill its lusts.
Romans 13:13, 14