WORLD GOSPEL KINGDOM TRACTS
Unlocking the Mystery of Human Life
Life Processed for Multiplication
This message is the continuation of the last one.
Although the Lord’s resurrection had been accomplished, the discovery of it required the seeking of His disciples. The discovery of His resurrection was made by the loving seekers of the Lord Jesus. John chapter twenty shows the kind of person who will realize the Lord’s resurrection, the kind of person to whom the vision of His resurrection can be disclosed. How can we have the revelation of the Lord’s resurrection? There is such a wonderful and mysterious fact as the Lord’s resurrection accomplished in this universe. But how can we know it? How can it be revealed to us? How can we have this vision? Only by loving the Lord and seeking Him. The fact of the Lord’s resurrection has been accomplished, but it must be discovered and seen. Before Mary the Magdalene came to the tomb, the resurrection in life had in fact been accomplished. But Mary had to discover it by loving and seeking the Lord. This lays down a principle. Today the resurrection of Christ is an accomplished fact, yet so many people have not seen it. They have never come to the point where they have discovered it. Have you discovered the fact of Christ’s resurrection? Have you received the revelation or vision that the Lord has been resurrected? I know you have the knowledge, the doctrine, and the story of His resurrection, but have you discovered the fact of it in the spirit? If we would make such a discovery, we must first love the Lord and seek Him.
Why is it that when you come together you have nothing to minister or to testify about? It is simply because you have not made the discovery and lack the revelation. Look at Mary. What did she do after she made this discovery? She ran to the disciples to tell them something new. I am sure that when you meet the Lord in the morning and make a new discovery about Him, you will surely come together and burst out with something to tell us. The spiritual discovery, the spiritual revelation, the spiritual vision, depends very much upon seeking the Lord. If you do not seek Him, it will be rather difficult for you to share anything of the Lord.
Mary the Magdalene had no knowledge. She was absolutely in life and was altogether not in the tree of knowledge. She did not know anything. In a human sense, it was foolish for her to come to the tomb and especially to come early in the morning. Nevertheless, she was the first to discover the fact of the Lord’s resurrection.
You may love the Lord very much and might be the first to see the fact of His resurrection, but, like Mary, you still help. Mary immediately ran to the two leading brothers, Peter and John, and told them of her discovery. It is interesting to note that when Mary went to the disciples, only two responded and went to the tomb. Why did the others not go? Possibly because, on the one hand, they were not seeking, and, on the other hand, they were lazy. They probably loved their bed. Only Peter and John ran to the tomb to see what Mary had discovered. John, who might have been younger than Peter, outran Peter and arrived at the tomb first, but, for some reason, he did not go in. Peter, who had more experience, was the first to enter into the tomb. When the two brothers saw the linen cloths and the napkin folded and left in a good order in the tomb, they were clear that the Lord must have resurrected from the dead. They were much clearer than Mary who had said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him” (John 20:2). Peter might have said, “I sympathize with foolish Mary and do not blame her. But now I realize that the Lord was not taken away. Look at the wrappings. He has certainly walked out of the tomb.”
This shows us a picture of how to seek the Lord. The first one who saw the tomb was Mary, and the first person who entered into the tomb was Peter. Here the brothers are really the brothers because they are clearer in the mind and find it easier to believe the fact than Mary did. The two brothers saw the empty tomb, the linen cloths, and the napkin, and were very clear that the Lord must have been resurrected. Although they saw the fact, realized it, and believed in it objectively, they did not have the experience subjectively. After being satisfied with the objective fact, they left the tomb. However, Mary, the sister, lingered, for she was still waiting, looking, and expecting. It was her additional seeking that gained the experience of the Lord’s resurrection. Since the Lord revealed Himself to her, she not only received the fact but also the experience. She was the first to experience the resurrected Lord.
Here we see a picture disclosing the two sides related to the Lord—the fact and the experience. You may believe in the fact but not have the experience. Peter and John realized and believed in the fact, but they lacked the experience of the Lord’s resurrection. Mary had both the fact and the experience. For example, you may have the fact of the Lord’s crucifixion but fail to experience the Cross. In the same principle, you may have the fact of the Lord’s resurrection but fail to experience the resurrected Lord. We need both the fact and the experience. Mary firstly saw the revelation of the fact, but she was not satisfied merely with the fact. She went further and received the experience of the resurrected Lord.
As a rule, the men are usually very objective and the women very subjective. According to the Scriptural principle, the man always represents the objective truth while the woman always represents the subjective experience. As an illustration, Abraham represents the doctrine of faith or the truth of faith, but Sarah represents the experience of obedience. Faith is related to truth and is objective; obedience is related to experience and is subjective. Likewise, Peter and John believed in the fact of the Lord’s resurrection objectively, but Mary experienced it subjectively. Many Christians today have never seen the fact of the Lord’s resurrection. While a few definitely have the revelation of the Lord’s resurrection, they only have the revelation, not the experience.
In the church life the men are always more clear than the women. They are clear in the truth and in the fact, but they do not care much for experience. Perhaps Peter said to John, “Undoubtedly the Lord has resurrected from the dead. Let’s not waste time staying here. Let’s go back.” Although the two leading brothers went back, Mary, the foolish woman remained, weeping. Mary might have said, “Who took the Lord away? I want to know where He is now.” But the two men could not help her. Many times in the church life the men cannot help the women. Thinking them to be foolish, we leave them where they are and go back home to rest. We are clear about Romans Chapter 6, having seen and believed the fact. Why must the women pray with tears and waste time? This is the real situation the Church. All the leading men are the clear ones, and all the women are the weeping ones. Eventually, however, it is the foolish, weeping ones who have the experience. They do not care for the truth, the facts, or even for the faith. They only care for a real touch with the living Lord, declaring, “I don’t care about the wrapping. I only care for Him. I want to be with Him and touch Him. Tell me where you have put Him.” During the past forty years, I have been offended many times by these foolish, weeping prayers. But we men must learn not to blame or rebuke the women. We must appreciate the fact that we have so many foolish, weeping, seeking women for they are the first to have the real experience of the Lord’s resurrection.
Possibly the Lord Jesus Himself did not intend to meet any of His disciples. Being the firstfruit of resurrection, He should be presented to the Father in His newness and freshness. He should not firstly have been met by anyone other than the Father. But due to the earnestness and to the seeking heart of this women, the Lord Jesus could not stay away from her. Thus, He appeared to her. When she tried her best to touch Him, the Lord seemed to say, “No, I Am just for you to look at. Do not touch Me. My freshness in resurrection must be for the Father. After I present the freshness of My resurrection to My Father, I’ll come back to you. That will be the time for you to enjoy My resurrection.” We men must learn the lesson of the women. In many instances, we men just hold the facts with faith, but we do not have the experiences like the women do.
If we want to see something more of the Lord, we must have more fellowship with Him. Mary’s seeing the Lord was the best morning watch. In this morning watch, she met the Lord and the Lord met her; she prayed to the Lord and the Lord spoke to her; she fellowshipped with the Lord and the Lord gave His word and His revelation to her. As we shall see, the Lord revealed to her that, from then on, the disciples were His brothers. He also told her that He was going to the Father and that the Father was not only His Father and His God but also their Father and their God. This revelation was brought by Mary to the brothers.
On that morning, Mary saw the tomb, the two angels, and the Lord. At first, she did not recognize the Lord, but eventually, after the Lord had called her by name, she did recognize Him. When did the Lord come to Mary? Since the tomb was empty, the Lord was not there. Since He had not yet ascended into heaven, He was not there either. Therefore, after He left the tomb and before He went to heaven, where was the Lord? I believe that the Lord was near the tomb but not in it. Although He was near the tomb, Peter, John, and Mary did not see Him at first. Eventually, the Lord revealed Himself to Mary, but even before He did so, He was already there. The Lord was present the whole time, but Mary did not know it. She thought that He had been taken away by someone. Even when Peter and John were there, I believe that the Lord was also there. They simply did not recognize Him, and the Lord did not reveal Himself to them. Do you realize that at this very moment the Lord is here, but we do not realize it and it has not been revealed?
In this chapter it is quite evident that there are three kinds of disciples. The first kind is represented by Mary, the second by Peter and John, and the third by the lazy ones. The lazy disciples had no revelation or discovery of the Lord’s resurrection. Peter and John had the discovery and the revelation but not the experience. Mary had the discovery, the revelation, and the experience. What is shown in this record is also true of Christians today. This record reveals the accomplished fact of Christ’s resurrection, but the discovery of His resurrection still requires our seeking, and the experience of His resurrection demands even further seeking. In other words, the revelation depends upon our seeking, and the experience depends upon our further seeking. We must first seek the Lord before we can discover His resurrection, and we must seek the Lord even more before we can experience His resurrection.
The resurrection of Christ was not only discovered by the seeking ones but also testified to by the angels sent from God (John 20:11-13). When Mary looked into the tomb, she saw “two angels in white sitting, one at the head and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain” (John 20:12). These two angels were like the cherubim on the propitiation cover, watching and observing how the glorious Lord, who is the resurrection, carried out the wonderful task of walking away from the threatening of death. These two observing angels became the strongest witness that the Lord Jesus had resurrected. As the linen cloths and the napkin were the testimony from man’s side, the angels were the testimony from God’s side. All these were seen only by a women who sought the Lord.
In John 20:17 the Lord Jesus said to Mary, “Do not touch Me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to My brothers and say to them, I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.” In this verse the Lord refers to His ascending to the Father. On the day of His resurrection, the Lord ascended to the Father. This was a secret ascension, the ultimate fulfillment of the going predicted in John 16:7, forty days prior to His public ascension before the eyes of His disciples (Acts 1:9-11). On the day of resurrection, early in the morning, He ascended to satisfy the Father, and late in the evening He returned to the disciples (John 20:19). The freshness of His resurrection must first be for the Father’s enjoyment, as the firstfruit of the harvest was, in type, brought first to God.
In her experience, Mary nearly experienced what God the Father experienced shortly thereafter. The Lord Jesus revealed Himself to Mary even earlier than He did to the Father when He ascended into heaven. Mary saw the resurrected Lord earlier than God the Father did. At that time, Mary was trying to touch the Lord, but He forbade her. It was sufficient for her to see Him. As we have seen, the Lord prevented her from touching Him because He had not yet ascended to the Father. He had to present Himself to the Father and contact Him first. When He came to the disciples in the evening of the same day, He asked them to touch Him (Luke 24:39). By these incidents we can realize that Mary was the first one to see the resurrected Lord.
The Lord Jesus also told Mary, “Go to My brothers.” Here we come to one of the greatest points in the Gospel of John, a point which not many Christians have seen clearly. Prior to His resurrection, the Lord never called His disciples “brothers.” The most intimate term He used before that time was “friends.” In John 15:14 and 15 He said, “You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves, for the slave does not know what his lord is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things which I have heard from My Father I have made known to you.” But now, after His resurrection, His “friends” have become His “brothers.” Through His resurrection, His disciples have been regenerated (1 Peter 1:3) with the divine life released by His life-imparting death, as indicated in John 12:24. All His disciples were regenerated in His resurrection. First Peter 1:3 says that we were regenerated through Christ’s resurrection. It was through His resurrection that the Lord imparted Himself as the Spirit into all His disciples. By receiving His life, they were all reborn, regenerated, and became His brothers. Remember that on the Cross the Lord told His mother to take His disciple John as her son, and that He told His disciple to take her as his mother (John 19:26-27). On the day of His resurrection, the Lord’s word on the Cross was fulfilled. At that time, John became a brother to the Lord; hence, the Lord’s mother became his mother.
By the resurrection of Christ, the disciples became the brothers of the Lord because they now had the same life as the Lord. The Lord regenerated them by His resurrection, and thus they were no longer merely disciples and friends but also His brothers. The Lord was the one grain of wheat that fell into the ground and died and grew up in resurrection to bring forth many grains for the producing of the loaf which is His Body (1 Corinthians 10:17). Before His death, He was only one, unique grain. But after His resurrection that one, unique grain became the many grains. This is the multiplication of life through the death and resurrection of Christ!
In His resurrection, the only begotten Son became “the Firstborn among many brothers” (Romans 8:29). The “many brothers” are those who have been regenerated through His resurrection with the divine life released by His life-imparting death. Through His resurrection, the divine life of the Father has been imparted into us. Thus, we all have become sons of God. In this way the unique Son of God has become the “Firstborn among many brothers.” Therefore, the Lord did not tell Mary, “Go to My friends”; He said, “Go to My brothers.”
Before His resurrection, Christ, as the Father’s only begotten Son, was the Father’s individual expression. Now, through His death and resurrection, the individual expression of the Father has become the corporate expression of God the Father in the Son!
Christ’s many brothers as the “many sons” of the Father are the “Church” (Hebrews 2:10-12) to be a corporate expression of God the Father in the Son. This is God’s ultimate intention. Therefore, the many brothers are the propagation of the Father’s life and the multiplication of the Son in the divine life! Hence, in the Lord’s resurrection, God’s eternal purpose is fulfilled.
Let us consider Hebrews 2:10-12 in more detail. Verse 10 says, “For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and through whom are all things, in leading many sons into glory, to make the Author of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” The One “for whom are all things and through whom are all things” is the Father, and the Author of salvation is the Son. The Father is bringing many sons into glory.
Verse 11 says, “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of One, for which cause He is not ashamed to call them brothers.” In this verse, “He who sanctifies” is the sanctifying Son, and “those who are being sanctified” are the sanctified sons. The “One” here refers to the Father. Thus, the Son, who is the Sanctifier, and we, who are the sanctified, are all of one Father. Therefore, “He is not ashamed to call them brothers.” When did He first call us “brothers”? In John 20:17, when He told Mary, “Go to My brothers.” Why is He not ashamed to call us brothers? Because we all have received His Father’s life. After His resurrection, all His disciples received the Father’s life. Now, because both He and we are of the same source and have the same life with the same nature, He is not ashamed to call us brothers.
Verse 12 continues, “Saying, ‘I will declare Your Name to My brothers; in the midst of the Church I will sing hymns of praise to You.’” Here we see the Son declaring the Father’s “Name” to His brothers, that is, making the Father known as the source of life and as the begetting God. This verse also tells us that the Son sings hymns of praise to the Father in the midst of the Church. By this we see that the brothers are the Church. I have spent much time to find another verse which says that the Lord Jesus sings praises to the Father. Eventually, being unable to find one, I realized that whenever His brothers sing praises to the Father, He sings in their singing. While we are singing, He sings in our singing!
In John 20:17 the Lord Jesus also said to Mary, “I ascend to My Father and your Father, and My God and your God.” Through His life-imparting death and resurrection, the Lord has made His disciples one with Him. Therefore, His Father is also His disciples’ Father, and His God is also their God. Through His resurrection, they have received both the Father’s life and God’s divine nature. By making them His brothers, He has imparted the Father’s life and God’s divine nature into them. By making His Father and His God theirs, He has brought them into His position—the Son’s position—before the Father and God that they might participate in His Father and God in resurrection. Thus, in life and nature inwardly and in position outwardly, His brothers are the same as He is. Inwardly we have the reality, and outwardly we have the position. The Father is not only the Father of the Lord Himself; He is also the Father of the disciples. Henceforth, all the disciples are sons of God. We are the same as the Firstborn, and He is the same as we are. This is the Church in His resurrection. Praise Him!
Why did the Lord tell Mary that He was ascending to the Father and to God? On the one hand, the Lord is the Son of God; therefore, He will see the Father in the person of the Son. On the other hand, He is still the Son of Man; therefore, He will see God in the person of man. We also are men on one hand and sons of God on the other. Since we are men, God is God to us; since we are the sons of God, God is also the Father to us. At this very moment, because we are both men and sons of God, we have both God and the Father. All the disciples, as human beings, have become brothers to the Lord and sons to the Father because they have received the same life as the Lord. This is the revelation which Mary brought to the Lord’s brothers.
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