The Second Aspect of the Significance of the Incarnation
What is the meaning of God incarnate’s ordinariness and normality? Are they just things that exist so that He can do work? Is it to prove that He is Christ? Some people say, “God incarnate must surely be of ordinary and normal flesh.” Does it mean only this? By saying “if He is Christ, then He must surely be of ordinary and normal flesh,” does this not delimit God? What is meant by “surely”? Some people say, “It is to express the words of God, so that man can easily come into contact with Him.” Is this the only purpose? Looking at it in terms of the essence of Christ, Christ’s essence is God Himself, fully and completely. Everything God does has meaning. A specially-appointed body of flesh, which has a specially-appointed appearance, a specially-appointed family, a specially-appointed living environment—these things that God does all have meaning. Some people ask: “How is it that I cannot see the great significance behind God’s wearing of ordinary and normal flesh? Is His flesh not just an outer shell? Once God has finished His work, won’t this outer shell become useless?” In people’s imaginations and in their awareness, they think that the outer shell of this ordinary and normal flesh has no great use, that it serves no great purpose in God’s work or in His management plan, and that it exists merely to complete this stage of work. People believe that it exists so that they may easily come into contact with Him and hear His words, so that they may see and feel Him, and that it has no other uses. In the past, this is what people understood the significance of the incarnation to be. But in fact, during the work of the ordinary and normal flesh and during the time of the incarnation, in addition to shouldering the work of His own job, He also undertakes a job no one has yet considered. What kind of work is this? In addition to doing the work of God Himself, He also comes to experience the suffering of man. In the past, people were unaware of this.
Before, people never understood why God incarnate is always suffering from illness, or what this suffering is for. Some people said, “God is humble and hidden, God undergoes this suffering to save man, God loves man….” This is the muddleheaded explanation that they give. Is it absolutely necessary that He suffer these things to save mankind? If God incarnate did not undergo this suffering, could God Himself achieve it? He could. Some people say, “In the Age of Grace we need only pray to God, and then any illness can be cured as soon as it appears. We never took medicine, and some people prayed and even had cancer cured. So why is God incarnate always tormented by illness? Why isn’t He ever in good health? Why has God incarnate not obtained as much grace as man?” This has always been a mystery to mankind. This is a knot in the heart of man, and yet people do not treat this matter with much seriousness. Instead, they offer muddled explanations, saying that God loves man, that God suffers for mankind. Even now, people still do not understand this correctly. To experience the suffering of the world is a responsibility of God incarnate. What purpose does experiencing the suffering of the world serve? This is yet another issue. God comes to experience the suffering of the world, which is something that the Spirit absolutely cannot achieve. Only God incarnate, who is of ordinary, normal, and complete flesh, and who has become entirely human, can completely experience the suffering of the world. If the Spirit were to do this work, then He would absolutely be unable to experience any suffering. He could only see and comprehend. Are seeing, comprehending and experiencing all one and the same? No, they are not. Previously, God said, “I know the emptiness of the world and I know the hardships that exist in the life of man. I have walked here and there in the world and seen utter wretchedness. I have seen the hardships, the misery, and the emptiness in the lives of man.” But as for the question of whether He has experienced it, that is another matter entirely. Consider, for example, a family that struggles to get by. You see this and you have some understanding, but have you experienced their situation for yourself? Have you ever felt their difficulties, their suffering and had these feelings or had this experience? No, you have not. That is to say, seeing and experiencing are two different things. It can be said that this thing, this work, must necessarily be done by God incarnate. In such matters, the Spirit is absolutely incapable. This is another aspect of the significance of the incarnation: God comes to experience the suffering of the world and the suffering that man endures. What suffering does He experience? He experiences the difficulties that exist in the life of man, family misfortunes, man’s deceptions, abandonment and persecution, as well as illness of the body—these all amount to the suffering of the world. The afflictions of illness, the attacks of surrounding people and things, misfortunes in the family, people’s abandonment, people’s blasphemy, slander, resistance, rebellion, insults and misunderstandings, and so on—God incarnate experiences all of this as an attack. To those who suffer all this, it is also an attack. Whether they are a great person, an extraordinary person, or a broadminded person, this suffering, these things, are an attack to them. God undergoes the persecution of the world, with nowhere to rest His head, no place to stay, and no confidant…. All these things are painful. Although these things might not reach the zenith of suffering, nonetheless He experiences it all. Some people used to wonder, “In the work of God incarnate, can’t God remove these illnesses? To allow Him to do His work with ease, and to not allow people to rebel against Him or resist Him—could He not do these things? If He punished people, then they wouldn’t dare resist Him. God has the authority, so why would He allow Himself to become ill? If someone has an illness, they need only pray and it will be cured, so why does God Himself suffer illness?” He does this so He may experience the suffering of the world. From the flesh He takes as an incarnation He does not remove adversities or affliction of illnesses, nor does He remove the abandonments suffered at the hands of man. He just naturally grows and works within this difficult environment. In this way He can experience the suffering of the world. If none of these things existed, He would not taste this suffering. If illnesses did not come upon Him, or He did not suffer any ailments that afflict normal people, wouldn’t His suffering then be less? Could it be arranged that He never suffers a headache or feels tired after using His brain too much, while other people do? Yes, it could be arranged; but this time, things are being done differently. During the age when Jesus was working, He was able to go without food and water for 40 days and nights and not feel hungry. But in the present age, God incarnate feels hungry even if He misses one meal. Some people say, “Is God not almighty? The way I see it, He is not. He cannot even do such a small thing as this. We see from the way He speaks that He is God, so why can He not achieve these things?” It is not that God cannot achieve these things, but rather He does not do them in that way. The purpose of His incarnation is not to do the things people think God can do. He experiences the suffering of the world and there is significance in His doing this. Then there are those who ask: “What use is there, God, in Your experiencing the suffering of the world? Can You suffer in man’s place? Are people not still suffering right now?” Nothing God does is done randomly. He doesn’t leave once He has suffered the suffering of the world, once He has looked and seen how the world is. Instead, He comes to thoroughly complete all the work that is required of His incarnation. Some people think that God may just be too used to enjoying a life of ease and comfort, that He just wants to suffer a little, that He lives in bliss and doesn’t know the taste of suffering, so He just wants to know the taste of suffering. This is all just a product of people’s imaginations. Experiencing now the suffering of the world is something that can only be done during the time of incarnation. If the work of God incarnate has already been thoroughly completed, and the next stage of work has already begun, then there should be no more “experiencing the suffering of the world.” So, for what reason exactly does God experience the suffering of the world? Does anyone know? It has been prophesied that man shall have no tears, no weeping, and no suffering, and that there will be no illness in the world. God incarnate is now experiencing this suffering and when He has finished He will bring mankind to the beautiful destination, and all the suffering of before will be no more. Why will it be no more? It will be no more because God incarnate Himself will have already experienced all this suffering and He will have removed this suffering from mankind. It is for this purpose that God experiences man’s suffering.
God incarnate experiences the suffering of the world in order to better prepare mankind’s future destination, to make it more beautiful, more perfect. This is the most important aspect of the incarnation, and is one part of the work of the incarnation. There is another issue here. In becoming flesh and experiencing this suffering, God will later remove this suffering from mankind. But if there were no incarnation and no experiencing, could this suffering be removed? Yes, it could still be removed. In the Age of Grace, when Jesus was crucified, He was a righteous man who became the likeness of sinful flesh and made Himself a sin offering, thus redeeming all mankind and delivering them from Satan’s grasp. This was the purpose and significance of Jesus being crucified: He was redeeming mankind with His precious blood, so that mankind’s sins would be forgiven. Now God experiences human suffering, which means that He experiences it all in man’s place, and after this man need never suffer it again. You cannot forget the following words: At every stage of the work of God, He is at war with Satan, and every stage of His work is related in some way to this war with Satan. In the stage of work carried out during the Age of Grace, all mankind’s sins were forgiven—they were redeemed through the crucifixion. If there hadn’t been this fact, the fact of the crucifixion, and if instead the forgiveness of man’s sins had relied on words alone, then Satan would not have been convinced. It would have said: “You have suffered nothing, and You have not taken on man’s sins. With one word, mankind’s sins are forgiven? This is unacceptable! Mankind was created by You, so if You do not take on sins in mankind’s place, You cannot forgive their sins.” Now, in the present stage of work, all the saved people are to be brought to the beautiful destination, brought into the next age. Mankind is no longer to suffer, no longer to be afflicted by illness. But on what basis is man to suffer no more affliction of illness? On what basis is there to be no more suffering in the world? It is reasonable to say that, since people have corrupt dispositions and are capable of resisting God, they should undergo this suffering. How can this problem be resolved? So, God incarnate this time also does something most significant, and that is to take the place of mankind and suffer all their pain. This “experience” of God becoming flesh and experiencing human pain is about Him suffering in mankind’s place. Some people say: “Now that God suffers in place of mankind, why then do we still suffer?” You are currently experiencing the work of God. You have not yet been entirely perfected, you have not yet entered completely into the next age, and your disposition is still corrupt. God’s work has not yet reached its apotheosis and is still ongoing. So, people mustn’t complain about their suffering; God incarnate still suffers, let alone man. Is it not of great significance that God experiences human suffering? God incarnate has not come to do a few bits of work and then leave. People’s understanding is too shallow—they believe that God incarnate has come to do the work of God Himself, that this flesh has just come to express the word of God and work on God’s behalf. There are some who even think this flesh is just an outer form, but this is a completely mistaken view, and is pure blasphemy against the incarnate God. The work of the flesh means that God Himself has come and He has become flesh to experience human suffering; it means that God has become a human to experience human suffering. Are people correct in believing that the outer form of God’s flesh has come to experience this suffering, and that His Spirit is not suffering within? God’s Spirit suffers as the flesh suffers. When Jesus was to be crucified, He prayed: “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me: nevertheless not as I will, but as You will” (Matthew 26:39). He desired this because, just as His flesh suffered, His Spirit also suffered within the flesh. If you say that it is only the outer shell of the flesh that suffers, that God in His divinity suffers not at all, that He suffers no torment, then you are wrong. If you understand it in this way, then this proves that you have not seen the aspect of God incarnate’s essence. Why is it said that God is now materialized inside a body of flesh? God could come and go whenever He wants, but He does not do that. He has become human to undergo this suffering, real, tangible suffering, so that people may see and feel it as it happens. He can feel the suffering He undergoes, He experiences it for Himself. Not once does His flesh feel any part of suffering or torment that His Spirit does not feel—His flesh and Spirit are as one in feeling and enduring suffering. Is this easy to understand? It isn’t easy. It isn’t easy because all man can see is the flesh, and they cannot see that the Spirit suffers even as the flesh suffers. Do you believe that when someone suffers, their soul also suffers? Why do people say that they feel such-and-such feeling deep in their heart? It is because man’s flesh and spirit are one. The spirit and flesh of every person are one and the same; they suffer alike and feel joy alike. There is not one person who, when suffering real pain, feels it only in their flesh even while their heart rejoices; nor is there anyone who would say that their flesh suffers not at all even while their heart is suffering. The things in the heart that arouse feelings or pain, or things that can be experienced in the heart—these things the flesh can also feel.
God incarnate has come to do His work—to experience the suffering of the world—in order to take upon Himself all of man’s pain. Once He has endured this suffering until it is finished, this kind of work need not be repeated in the next stage of work. Instead, mankind can be brought to the beautiful destination. Because He has suffered this pain in place of man, He is therefore qualified to bring man to the beautiful destination—this is His plan. Some absurd people say: “Why haven’t I seen God incarnate enduring all this suffering? Not all of it has been endured in its totality. All kinds of suffering should be endured, and at the very least He should suffer crucifixion.” The pain of crucifixion has been endured before and need not be suffered again. Besides, people mustn’t say such things. Hasn’t God incarnate suffered much during these years? Only absurd people think this way. Within the scope of suffering that can be endured by God incarnate, basically all the suffering that afflicts mankind could befall Him. As for the suffering that is too great, for the suffering that just one man in a thousand can endure, God need not suffer it, because all this suffering has already been representative. God can experience these kinds of suffering, and this proves that He is no different from normal people, that there is no distinguishing Him from people, that there is no separation between Him and people, and that He suffers just as people do. When people suffer, God also suffers. From time to time, people become ill and suffer pain, and God personally experiences it—He has tasted all this suffering. This time, the suffering of the incarnate God is not like the previous time, when He had to taste death on the cross. This is not necessary, because it has already been experienced. This time is only about experiencing human suffering and taking upon Himself the suffering of man. Previously, Jehovah worked as the Spirit, and from this man could gain some things. The work of the incarnate God, however, can be seen and felt by people, making it more convenient and more accessible for people than the work of the Spirit. This is one aspect. The other aspect is that God incarnate can experience the suffering of the world. This absolutely cannot be achieved by the work of the Spirit; of necessity, it can only be achieved by the incarnation. If it were the Spirit at work, the Spirit would say what He has to say and then leave. Even when He is in contact with people, He still cannot experience the suffering of the world. Some people may want to ask: “If God incarnate suffers, does the Spirit not also suffer? Can the Spirit not also experience it?” Is the idea of this not also absurd? The Spirit can only experience suffering after He has clothed Himself in the flesh. The Spirit and the flesh are indivisible; the Spirit also experiences the suffering of the flesh. If the Spirit did not clothe Himself in flesh, He would not be able to experience this. The flesh’s feelings of suffering are much more detailed, more real and more concrete. These are things the Spirit cannot reach. There are some things within the physical world for which the Spirit’s work cannot substitute. This is the most comprehensive significance of the incarnation.
It has been said before that Christ took no part in the family happiness of the world. Some say: “Christ was received well everywhere He went. Some people even bought Him nice things, and He was highly regarded everywhere. Things must have been pretty enjoyable for Him and He didn’t suffer much at all, so how could it be said that He took no part in it?” How about that statement? Saying that He took no part in it doesn’t mean that He didn’t enjoy these things, but rather that He didn’t suffer any less because of these things. This is what is meant by “He took no part in it.” For example, suppose you contract some illness and someone gives you some nice clothes. Would the suffering of your illness be eased because of these clothes? No. Your suffering would not be eased at all. You must still suffer that which you must suffer, and that is what is meant by “taking no part in it.” For example, the suffering that results from an illness, or the constraints of one’s environment, cannot be eased by the pleasures of the body, and Christ didn’t take these things for His enjoyment. Hence it is said, “He took no part in it.” Some absurd people think, “If God takes no part in the family happiness of the world, then it doesn’t matter how we receive Him, as God will suffer regardless of what we do.” This understanding is deeply absurd, and it shows there is malice in their heart. People’s hearts must be put to their best use; people’s duties must be done to the absolute best of their ability. Then there are those who understand like this: “God used to enjoy utter bliss, and has now come to try something different—the suffering of the world.” Is it that simple? You must understand why God comes to experience the suffering of the world. The significance of everything God does has considerable depth. Consider, for example, the crucifixion of Jesus. Why did Jesus have to be crucified? Was it not to redeem all mankind? So, too, there is great significance in the current incarnation of God and His experiencing of the world’s suffering—it is for the beautiful destination of mankind. In His work, God always does exactly what is most practical. Why is it that God sees man as being without sin, and that man can have the good fortune to come before God? It is because Jesus was nailed to the cross, bore man’s sins, and redeemed mankind. Why, then, will mankind suffer no more, feel no grief, shed no tears, and sigh no more? This is because the current incarnation of God has taken all this suffering upon Himself, and this suffering now has been endured on behalf of man. It is like a mother who watches her child fall ill and prays to Heaven, wishing her own life would be cut short if it means her child can be cured. God also works in this way, offering His pain in return for the beautiful destination that will then come for mankind. There will be no more grief, no more tears, no more sighs and no more suffering. God pays the price—the cost—of personally experiencing the world’s suffering in return for the beautiful destination that will follow for mankind. Saying that this is done “in return for” the beautiful destination does not mean that God has no power or no authority to grant mankind a beautiful destination, but rather that God wants to find a more practical and more powerful proof to utterly convince people. God has already experienced this suffering, so He is qualified, He has the power, and even more so He has the authority to deliver mankind to the beautiful destination, to give mankind this beautiful destination and promise. Satan will be thoroughly convinced; all the creations of the universe will be thoroughly convinced. In the end, God will allow mankind to receive His promise and love. Everything God does is practical, nothing He does is empty, and He experiences it all Himself. God pays the price of His own experience of suffering in exchange for a destination for humanity. Is this not practical work? Parents may pay an earnest price for the sake of their children, and this represents their love for their children. In doing this, God incarnate is, of course, being most sincere and faithful to mankind. The essence of God is faithful; He does what He says, and whatever He does is achieved. Everything He does for humans is sincere. He does not simply utter words; when He says He will pay a price, He actually pays the price. When He says He will undertake humanity’s suffering and suffer in their stead, He actually comes to live among them, feeling and experiencing this suffering personally. After that, all things in the universe will acknowledge that everything God does is right and righteous, that all God does is realistic: This is powerful evidence. In addition, mankind will have a beautiful destination in the future, and all those who remain will praise God; they will eulogize that God’s deeds were indeed done out of His love for humanity. God comes among man humbly, as an ordinary person. He does not merely perform some work, speak some words, then leave; instead, He truly speaks and works while experiencing the pain of the world. Only once He has finished experiencing this pain will He leave. This is how real and how practical God’s work is; all who remain will praise Him because of it, and they will see God’s faithfulness to mankind and His kindheartedness. God’s essence of beauty and goodness can be seen in the significance of His incarnation in the flesh. Whatever He does is sincere; whatever He says is earnest and faithful. Everything He intends to do, He actually does; when there is a price to be paid, He actually pays it; He does not simply utter words. God is a righteous God; God is a faithful God.