God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III (Part Four)
6. The Sermon on the Mount
The Beatitudes (Mat 5:3–12)
Salt and Light (Mat 5:13–16)
Law (Mat 5:17–20)
Anger (Mat 5:21–26)
Adultery (Mat 5:27–30)
Divorce (Mat 5:31–32)
Vows (Mat 5:33–37)
Eye for Eye (Mat 5:38–42)
Love Your Enemies (Mat 5:43–48)
Instruction About Giving (Mat 6:1–4)
Prayer (Mat 6:5–8)
7. The Parables of the Lord Jesus
The Parable of the Sower (Mat 13:1–9)
The Parable of the Tares (Mat 13:24–30)
The Parable of the Mustard Seed (Mat 13:31–32)
The Parable of the Leaven (Mat 13:33)
The Parable of the Tares Explained (Mat 13:36–43)
The Parable of the Treasure (Mat 13:44)
The Parable of the Pearl (Mat 13:45–46)
The Parable of the Net (Mat 13:47–50)
8. The Commandments
(Mat 22:37–39) Jesus said to him, You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like to it, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Let’s first look at each part of “The Sermon on the Mount.” What are all of these related to? It can be said with certainty that these are all more elevated, more concrete, and closer to people’s lives than the regulations of the Age of Law. To speak in modern terms, it’s more relevant to people’s actual practice.
Let’s read the specific content of the following: How should you understand the beatitudes? What should you know about the law? How should anger be defined? How should adulterers be dealt with? What is said, and what kind of rules are there about divorce, and who can get divorced and who cannot get divorced? How about vows, eye for eye, love your enemies, instruction about giving, etc.? All of these things have to do with every aspect of the practice of mankind’s belief in God, and of their following God. Some of these practices are still relevant today, but they are more rudimentary than the current requirements of people. They are fairly elementary truths people encounter in their belief in God. From the time the Lord Jesus began working, He was already beginning to work on the life disposition of humans, but it was based on the foundation of the laws. Did the rules and the sayings on these topics have anything to do with the truth? Of course they did! All of the previous regulations, principles, and the sermon in the Age of Grace were all related to God’s disposition and what He has and is, and of course to the truth. No matter what God expresses, in what way He expresses it, or using what kind of language, its foundation, its origin, and its starting point are all based on the principles of His disposition and what He has and is. This is without error. So even though now these things He said seem a little shallow, you still can’t say that they’re not the truth, because they were things that were indispensable for people in the Age of Grace in order to satisfy God’s will and to achieve a change in their life disposition. Can you say that any of the things in the sermon are not in line with the truth? You can’t! Each one of these is the truth because they were all God’s requirements for mankind; they were all principles and a scope given by God for how to conduct oneself, and they represent God’s disposition. However, based on the level of their growth in life of that time, they were only able to accept and comprehend these things. Because mankind’s sin had not yet been resolved, the Lord Jesus could only issue these words, and He could only utilize such simple teachings within this kind of scope to tell the people of that time how they should act, what they should do, within what principles and scope they should do things, and how they should believe in God and meet His requirements. All of this was determined based on the stature of mankind at that time. It was not easy for people living under the law to accept these teachings, so what the Lord Jesus taught had to stay within this scope.
Next, let’s take a look at what’s in “The Parables of the Lord Jesus.”
The first one is the parable of the sower. This is a really interesting parable; sowing seeds is a common event in people’s lives. The second is the parable of the tares. As far as what tares are, anyone who has planted crops and adults will know. The third is the parable of the mustard seed. All of you know what mustard is, right? If you don’t know, you can have a look through the Bible. For the fourth one, the parable of the leaven, most people know that leaven is used for fermentation; it’s something that people use in their daily lives. All of the parables below, including the sixth, the parable of the treasure, the seventh, the parable of the pearl, and the eighth, the parable of the net, are all drawn from people’s lives; they all come from people’s real lives. What kind of picture do these parables paint? This is a picture of God becoming a normal person and living alongside mankind, using the language of a normal life, using human language to communicate with humans and to provide them with what they need. When God became flesh and lived among mankind for a long time, after He had experienced and witnessed people’s various lifestyles, these experiences became His textbook for transforming His divine language into human language. Of course, these things that He saw and heard in life also enriched the Son of man’s human experience. When He wanted to get people to understand some truths, to get them to understand some of God’s will, He could use parables similar to the ones above to tell people about God’s will and His requirements of mankind. These parables were all related to people’s lives; there was not a single one that was out of touch with human lives. When the Lord Jesus lived with mankind, He saw farmers tending their fields, He knew what tares were and what leavening was; He understood that humans like treasure, so He used the metaphors of both the treasure and the pearl; He frequently saw fishermen casting their nets; and so on. The Lord Jesus saw these activities in mankind’s lives, and He also experienced that type of life. He was the same as every other normal person, experiencing humans’ three meals a day and daily routines. He personally experienced the life of an average person, and He witnessed the lives of others. When He witnessed and personally experienced all of this, what He thought of wasn’t how to have a good life or how He could live more freely, more comfortably. When He was experiencing an authentic human life, the Lord Jesus saw the hardship in people’s lives, He saw the hardship, the wretchedness, and the sadness of people under the corruption of Satan, living under the domain of Satan, and living in sin. While He was personally experiencing human life, He also experienced how helpless people were who were living amongst corruption, and He saw and experienced the misery of those who lived in sin, who were lost in the torture by Satan, by evil. When the Lord Jesus saw these things, did He see them with His divinity or His humanity? His humanity really existed—it was very much alive—He could experience and see all of this, and of course His essence, His divinity saw it as well. That is, Christ Himself, the Lord Jesus the man saw this, and everything He saw made Him feel the importance and the necessity of the work He had taken on this time in the flesh. Even though He Himself knew that the responsibility He needed to take on in the flesh was so immense, and how cruel the pain He would face would be, when He saw mankind helpless in sin, when He saw the wretchedness of their lives and their feeble struggles under the law, He felt more and more grief, and became more and more anxious to save mankind from sin. No matter what kind of difficulties He would face or what kind of pain He would suffer, He became more and more resolute to redeem mankind living in sin. During this process, you could say that the Lord Jesus began to understand more and more clearly the work He needed to do and what He had been entrusted with. He also became increasingly eager to complete the work He was to take on—to take on all of mankind’s sins, to atone for mankind so that they no longer lived in sin and God would be able to forget man’s sins because of the sin offering, allowing Him to further His work of saving mankind. It could be said that in the Lord Jesus’ heart, He was willing to offer Himself up for mankind, to sacrifice Himself. He was also willing to act as a sin offering, to be nailed to the cross, and He was eager to complete this work. When He saw the miserable conditions of human’s lives, He wanted even more to fulfill His mission as quickly as possible, without the delay of a single minute or second. When He had such a feeling of urgency, He was not thinking of how great His own pain would be, nor did He think any longer of how much humiliation He would have to endure—He held just one conviction in His heart: As long as He offered up Himself, as long as He was nailed to the cross as a sin offering, God’s will would prevail and He would be able to commence new work. Mankind’s lives in sin, their state of existing in sin would be completely changed. His conviction and what He was determined to do were related to saving man, and He had only one objective: to do God’s will, so that He could successfully begin the next step in His work. This was what was in the Lord Jesus’ mind at the time.
Living in the flesh, the incarnate God possessed normal humanity; He had the emotions and the reasoning of a normal person. He knew what happiness was, what pain was, and when He saw mankind in this type of life, He deeply felt that merely giving people some teachings, providing them with something or teaching them something could not lead them out from sin. Neither could just having them obey the commandments redeem them from sin—only when He took on humanity’s sin and became the likeness of sinful flesh could He exchange it for mankind’s freedom, and exchange it for God’s forgiveness for mankind. So after the Lord Jesus had experienced and witnessed men’s lives in sin, there was an intense desire that manifested in His heart—to allow humans to rid themselves of their lives of struggling in sin. This desire made Him feel more and more that He must go to the cross and take on humanity’s sins as soon as possible, as quickly as possible. These were the thoughts of the Lord Jesus at that time, after He had lived with people and seen, heard, and felt the misery of their lives in sin. That the incarnate God could have this kind of will for mankind, that He could express and reveal this kind of disposition—is this something an average person could have? What would an average person see living in this type of environment? What would they think? If an average person faced all of this, would they look at problems from a high perspective? Definitely not! Although the appearance of God incarnate is exactly the same as a human, He learns human knowledge and speaks human language, and sometimes He even expresses His ideas through mankind’s means or expressions, the way He sees humans, the essence of things, and the way corrupt people see mankind and the essence of things are absolutely not the same. His perspective and the height at which He stands is something unattainable for a corrupt person. This is because God is truth, the flesh that He wears also possesses the essence of God, and His thoughts and that which is expressed by His humanity are also the truth. For corrupt people, what He expresses in the flesh is all a provision of the truth, and of life. These provisions are not just for one person, but for all of mankind. For any corrupt person, in his heart there are only those few people who are associated with him. There are only those several people who he cares about, who he is concerned about. When disaster is on the horizon he first thinks of his own children, spouse, or parents, and a more philanthropic person would at most think of some relative or a good friend; does he think of more? Not ever! Because humans are, after all, humans, and they can only look at everything from the perspective and from the height of a person. However, God incarnate is entirely different from a corrupt person. No matter how ordinary, how normal, how lowly God’s incarnate flesh is, or even how much people look down on Him, His thoughts and His attitude toward mankind are things that no man could possess, and no man could imitate. He will always observe mankind from the perspective of divinity, from the height of His position as the Creator. He will always see mankind through the essence and the mindset of God. He absolutely cannot see mankind from the height of an average person, and from the perspective of a corrupt person. When people look at mankind, they look with human vision, and they use things such as human knowledge and human rules and theories as a measure. This is within the scope of what people can see with their eyes; it’s within the scope that corrupt people can achieve. When God looks at mankind, He looks with divine vision, and He uses His essence and what He has and is as a measure. This scope includes things that people cannot see, and this is where God incarnate and corrupt humans are entirely different. This difference is determined by humans’ and God’s different essences, and it is these different essences that determine their identities and positions as well as the perspective and height from which they see things. Do you see the expression and revealing of God Himself in the Lord Jesus? You could say that what the Lord Jesus did and said was related to His ministry and to God’s own management work, that it was all the expression and revealing of God’s essence. Although He did have a human manifestation, His divine essence and the revealing of His divinity cannot be denied. Was this human manifestation truly a manifestation of humanity? His human manifestation was, by its very essence, entirely different from the human manifestation of corrupt people. The Lord Jesus was God incarnate, and if He had truly been one of the regular, corrupt people, could He have seen mankind’s lives in sin from a divine perspective? Absolutely not! This is the difference between the Son of man and regular people. Corrupt people all live in sin, and when anyone sees sin, they don’t have any particular feeling about it; they are all the same, just like a pig living in the mud that doesn’t feel at all uncomfortable, or dirty—it eats well, and sleeps soundly. If someone cleans the pigsty, the pig actually won’t feel at ease, and it won’t stay clean. Before long, it will once again be rolling around in the mud, completely comfortable, because it is a filthy creature. When humans see a pig, they feel it’s filthy, and if you clean it up, the pig doesn’t feel better—this is why no one keeps a pig in their house. The way humans see pigs will always be different from how pigs themselves feel, because humans and pigs are not of the same kind. And because the incarnate Son of man is not of the same kind as corrupt humans, only God incarnate can stand from a divine perspective, and stand from the height of God to see mankind, to see everything.
When God becomes flesh and lives among mankind, what suffering does He experience in the flesh? Does anyone truly understand? Some people say that God suffers greatly, and although He is God Himself, people do not understand His essence and always treat Him like a person, which makes Him feel aggrieved and wronged—they say that God’s suffering truly is great. Other people say that God is innocent and without sin, but He suffers the same as mankind and suffers persecution, slander, and indignities along with mankind; they say He also endures the misunderstandings and the disobedience of His followers—God’s suffering truly cannot be measured. It seems that you don’t truly understand God. In fact, this suffering you speak of does not count as true suffering for God, because there is suffering greater than this. Then what is true suffering for God Himself? What is true suffering for God’s incarnate flesh? For God, mankind not understanding Him does not count as suffering, and people having some misunderstanding of God and not seeing Him as God does not count as suffering. However, people often feel that God must have suffered a great injustice, that the time God is in the flesh He cannot show His person to mankind and allow them to see His greatness, and God is humbly hiding in an insignificant flesh, so it must have been tormenting for Him. People take to heart what they can understand and what they can see of God’s suffering, and impose all sorts of sympathy on God and often will even offer a little praise for it. In reality, there is a difference, there is a gap between what people understand of God’s suffering and what He truly feels. I’m telling you the truth—for God, no matter if it’s God’s Spirit or God’s incarnate flesh, that suffering is not true suffering. Then what is it that God actually suffers? Let’s talk about God’s suffering only from the perspective of God incarnate.
When God becomes flesh, becoming an average, normal person, living among mankind, side-by-side with people, can’t He see and feel people’s methods, laws, and philosophies for living? How do these methods and laws for living make Him feel? Does He feel loathing in His heart? Why would He feel loathing? What are mankind’s methods and laws for living? What principles are they rooted in? What are they based on? Mankind’s methods, laws, etc. for living—all of this is created based on Satan’s logic, knowledge, and philosophy. Humans living under these types of laws have no humanity, no truth—they all defy the truth, and are hostile to God. If we take a look at God’s essence, we see that His essence is exactly the opposite of Satan’s logic, knowledge, and philosophy. His essence is full of righteousness, truth, and holiness, and other realities of all positive things. God, possessing this essence and living among such a mankind—what does He feel in His heart? Isn’t it full of pain? His heart is in pain, and this pain is something that no person can understand or realize. Because everything that He faces, encounters, hears, sees, and experiences is all mankind’s corruption, evil, and their rebellion against and resistance to the truth. All that comes from humans is the source of His suffering. That is to say, because His essence is not the same as corrupt humans, the corruption of humans becomes the source of His greatest suffering. When God becomes flesh, is He able to find someone who shares a common language with Him? This cannot be found among mankind. No one can be found who can communicate, who can have this exchange with God—what kind of feeling would you say God has? The things that people discuss, that they love, that they pursue and long for all have to do with sin, with evil tendencies. When God faces all of this, isn’t it like a knife to His heart? Faced with these things, could He have joy in His heart? Could He find consolation? Those who are living with Him are humans full of rebelliousness and evil—how could His heart not suffer? How great really is this suffering, and who cares about it? Who takes heed? And who could appreciate it? People have no way of understanding God’s heart. His suffering is something that people are particularly unable to appreciate, and humanity’s coldness and numbness makes God’s suffering even deeper.
There are some people who often sympathize with Christ’s plight because there is a verse in the Bible that says: “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man has not where to lay His head.” When people hear this, they take it to heart and believe that this is the greatest suffering that God endures, and the greatest suffering that Christ endures. Now, looking at it from the perspective of the facts, is that the case? God does not believe that these difficulties are suffering. He has never cried out against injustice for the difficulties of the flesh, and He has never made humans repay or reward Him with anything. However, when He witnesses mankind’s everything, the corrupt lives and the evil of corrupt humans, when He witnesses that mankind is in Satan’s grasp and imprisoned by Satan and cannot escape, that people living in sin do not know what the truth is—He cannot bear all of these sins. His loathing of humans increases by the day, but He has to endure all of this. This is God’s great suffering. God cannot fully express even His voice or His emotions among His followers, and no one among His followers can truly understand His suffering. No one even tries to understand or to comfort His heart—His heart endures this suffering day after day, year after year, time and time again. What do you see in all of this? God doesn’t require anything from humans in return for what He has given, but because of God’s essence, He absolutely cannot tolerate mankind’s evil, corruption, and sin, but feels extreme loathing and hatred, which leads to God’s heart and His flesh enduring unending suffering. Could you see all of this? Most likely, none of you could see this, because none of you can truly understand God. Over time you can gradually experience it for yourselves.