Chapter 18. The Second Aspect of Significance of the Incarnation
What is the reason for the ordinariness and normality of God incarnate? Is it just so He is able to work? Is it just to prove that He is Christ? What significance does His usual ordinariness and normality have? Some people say that God incarnate must surely be of an ordinary and normal flesh. Does it mean only this? If He is Christ, then He must surely be of an ordinary and normal flesh, so does this not delimit God? If He must surely be of an ordinary and normal flesh, what is meant by “surely be”? Some people say that it is to express the words of God, so that man can easily come into contact with Him. Is it just for this reason? Previously, people all thought this. Now we are talking about the essence of Christ. Christ’s essence is entirely God Himself. This is His essence, but everything He does has meaning. A specially-appointed flesh, a flesh with 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 this ordinary and normal flesh? Is it not just an outer shell? Once God has finished His work, won’t this outer shell just be 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 has no great use in God’s work or in His management plan and that it is merely to complete this stage of work. People believe that it is just so they can easily come into contact with Him and hear His words, they are able to see and feel Him, and nothing more. This is what people used to understand the significance of the incarnation to be. In actual fact, during the work of the ordinary and normal flesh and during the time of the incarnation, besides undertaking the work that He Himself should do, He also undertakes another work. The aspect of work that this flesh also undertakes is something that no one has yet considered. What aspect of work is this? Apart from doing the work of God Himself, He comes to experience the suffering of the world. This is something that people did not previously realize. Before, people thought: “God incarnate always suffers from illness. What does He suffer this for?” Some people say that this is God’s humility and hiddenness, that God loves man, that God suffers this to save man…. They explain it in this muddleheaded way. But if God incarnate did not allow Himself to suffer, could He achieve it? He could, couldn’t He? Some people say: “In the Age of Grace we need only pray to God to cure any illness as soon as it arose, so how could it be that God incarnate is always afflicted by illness? How could He then always be ill? How could His body then never be well?” Has this matter not always been a riddle for man? Although people say that God suffers, that God loves them, some still think: “During the Age of Grace, we need only rely on prayer to cure illness. We never took medicine, never had any medicine in our homes, didn’t know where the hospital was and we need only pray to cure even our cancer. So why has God incarnate not attained as much grace as man?” Is this not a riddle? This is a knot in the heart of man, but people don’t treat it seriously enough and just explain it simply, saying that God loves man, that God suffers for mankind. Until now, people have not understood this correctly. To experience the suffering of the world is a responsibility of God incarnate. But what purpose does experiencing the suffering of the world serve? This is yet another issue. God comes to experience the suffering of the world and this is something that the Spirit absolutely cannot achieve. Only God incarnate who is of an ordinary, normal, and complete flesh and who becomes entirely human, can completely experience the suffering of the world. If the Spirit was to do this work, then He would be absolutely unable to experience any suffering. He could see and He could comprehend, but He could not experience anything. 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 mankind. I have walked here and there in the world and seen extreme wretchedness. I have seen the hardships, the wretchedness and the emptiness of life in the world.” But whether or not He has experienced it, this is something else entirely. You see a family that struggles to get by, for example. You see this and you have some understanding, but have you experienced their situation for yourself? Have you felt their difficulties, their suffering and had these feelings or had this experience? No. This is because seeing and experiencing are two different things. It can be said that this work, this thing, must surely be done by God incarnate. In this respect, the Spirit can in no way achieve it. So, this is another aspect of significance of the incarnation: He comes to experience the suffering of the world and to experience the suffering that man endures. So what suffering do I mean? Difficulties in the life of mankind, misfortunes in the family, man’s deceptions, abandonment and persecution, as well as some afflictions of illness in one’s own body—these are the sufferings of the world. The afflictions of illness, the attacks of surrounding people, matters and things, misfortunes in the family, people abandoning each other, people’s blasphemy, slander, resistance, rebellion, insults and misunderstandings…. To God incarnate this is all a kind of attack, and it is also a kind of attack to those people who endure them. Whether it be a great person, or a high-caliber person, or someone with a broad mind, this suffering, these things, are all a kind of attack as far as man is concerned. 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. Besides this, He also experiences the misfortunes that befall the family. He does not need to reach the zenith of suffering, but He experiences it all.
Some previously wondered: “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 or resist Him—could He not do these things? If He punished people, then they wouldn’t dare resist Him. Or to not allow any illness as, if someone has an illness they need only pray for it to be cured, so why does God still suffer illness?” This is so He can experience the suffering of the world. From the flesh He takes as an incarnation He does not remove these adversities or the affliction of illnesses, nor does He remove the abandonment of the world. He just naturally grows and works in this difficult environment. In this way He can experience the suffering of the world. If none of these things existed, He would not be able to taste this suffering. If these illnesses were kept from Him, or if He could not get any illness that afflicts normal people…, wouldn’t His suffering then be less? Could it be achieved, for Him to not suffer any headache, nor feel tired after using His brain too much, whereas other people suffer from headaches after using their brains too much? Yes, it could be achieved; but this time it is done differently. During the stage of Jesus’ work, He could go for 40 days and nights without food or water and not feel hungry. This time, hunger is felt if one meal is missed. Some people say: “Is God not almighty? I see that God is not almighty. He cannot even do such a small thing as this. From what He says, He is God; so how can He not achieve these things?” It is not that He cannot achieve them, 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 His incarnation must do. 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 in people’s imaginations. Experiencing now the suffering of the world is something that can only be done during the time of the incarnation. If the work of God incarnate was done and done thoroughly, the next work would have begun and the matter of experiencing the suffering of the world would be no more.
So for what reason exactly is experiencing the suffering of the world done? 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 is because the incarnate God Himself will have already experienced all this suffering and He will have removed this suffering from mankind. It is for this purpose that it is done. 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 aspect of the work of the incarnation. There is yet another issue here. In becoming flesh and experiencing this suffering, God will afterward remove this suffering from mankind. But if there were no incarnation and no experiencing, could this suffering not still be removed? Could it be removed? Yes, it could still be removed. In being crucified, Jesus became the likeness of a sinner. He was a righteous man who became the likeness of sinful flesh and made Himself a sin offering, thus redeeming the whole of mankind and delivering them from out of Satan’s grasp. This was the purpose and significance of Jesus being crucified: the redemption of mankind, redeeming mankind through His precious blood, that mankind from then on would have no more sin. Now God experiences this suffering, which means that He experiences it all in mankind’s place. God’s suffering this pain means that mankind afterward need never suffer it again. You cannot forget these words: Every stage of work that God does is done at war with Satan and every stage of work is related in some way to this war with Satan. In the previous stage of work, it wouldn’t have been acceptable for one word to have been spoken that would have removed all mankind’s sins and redeemed them, for it is without any facts and without producing any proof. With one word spoken by God mankind would have been without sin—this was achievable. But Satan would not have been convinced. It would have said: “You have suffered nothing nor have You paid any price. With one word mankind’s sins are no more. This is unacceptable, as mankind was created by You.” Now, all the saved people are to be brought to the beautiful destination and brought into the next age. Mankind is no longer to suffer, no longer to be afflicted by illness. But on what basis is there to be no more affliction of illness? On what basis is there to be no more suffering in the world? Being human, people should undergo this suffering. So, God incarnate this time also does something most significant, and that is to take the place of mankind and suffer all its pain—this experience is to suffer in mankind’s place.
Some people say: “Now that God suffers in place of mankind, why then do we still suffer?” Are you not now experiencing the work of God? You have not yet been entirely perfected, you have not yet entered completely into the following age and your disposition is still corrupt. God’s work has not yet reached its apotheosis and is still in the process of being done. So people mustn’t complain about their suffering; God incarnate still suffers, let alone man. Does this matter not have great significance? God incarnate has not come to do a few bits of work and then leave. But rather people’s understanding is too shallow, believing 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 that this flesh is just an outer form, but this is completely mistaken, and is simple blasphemy against the incarnate God. The work of the flesh is the work of God Himself, and He becoming flesh to experience this suffering is God becoming human to experience this suffering. If it were as people say, it would be the outer form of God’s flesh that has come to experience, and God would be inside not suffering anything; would they be correct? Does God suffer? He suffers as the flesh suffers. For what reason did God at one time have the desire to forgo this suffering, and forgo this distress? You have seen that when Jesus was to be crucified, He prayed: “If it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as you will.” He desired this because, just as His flesh suffered, He Himself also suffered inside 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, suffering no torment, then this is wrong. If you understand it in this way then this proves that you have not seen the aspect of God’s essence. Why is it said that God is now materialized inside a flesh? He could come and go whenever He wants, but He does not do that. He has become human to undergo this suffering, in actuality, in reality, so that people can see and feel it as it happens. Also He can feel the suffering He undergoes, experience it for Himself. Not once does His flesh feel any aspect 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. Because all man can see is a flesh after all, 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 we say that we feel such-and-such deep in our heart? It is because man 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 heart but not in their flesh; nor is there anyone who would say that their external flesh suffers not at all when their heart is at its peak of suffering. The things in the heart that arouse feelings or pain, or that can be experienced—these things the flesh can also feel. This ordinary and normal flesh is Christ come to do His work—to experience the suffering of the world—in order to undertake all man’s pain. Once all this suffering has been endured, the same work need not be done 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: “If He has experienced all this suffering, why haven’t I seen it? It hasn’t all been completely endured. All kinds of suffering should be endured, and at the very least He should suffer crucifixion.” It has been endured before and need not be suffered again. Besides, people mustn’t say things like that. God incarnate has suffered much during these years. Absurd people are prone to this way of thinking. Within the scope of suffering that can be endured by God incarnate, basically all the suffering in the world can befall Him. As for suffering that is too great, for the suffering that just one man in a thousand can endure, God need not suffer it as this suffering has already been represented. God can experience the suffering such as illness and the torment of hardships, 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, does He not also suffer with them? When people are ill, so is He, and this suffering He has tasted. God has not separated His own flesh from the flesh of man, but instead He suffers just as people do. The suffering of the incarnate God this time is not like the time before when He had to taste death on the cross. It is not necessary as death has already been tasted. It is only to experience suffering and undertake the suffering of man.
Previously, Jehovah worked through the Spirit and from this man could make some attainments. The work of the incarnate God, however, can be seen and felt by people, making it more convenient and more accessible than the work of the Spirit. This is one aspect. The other aspect, the aspect that God incarnate experiences the suffering of the world, is one that can absolutely not be achieved by the work of the Spirit, but instead must only be achieved by the incarnation. The Spirit cannot achieve it. The Spirit does His work by speaking and then, once He has finished, He leaves. Even when 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 this not also absurd? This suffering is only experienced through the Spirit wearing a flesh. He must become human, otherwise He will not be able to feel this suffering. The incarnate God at times feels like His heart is broken, but after the Spirit sees something, He only feels loathing or joy. He only feels this feeling simply. But the feelings of the flesh are much more than this. The flesh feels more finely, more realistically, more practically, and these things the Spirit cannot reach. There are some things within the physical world with which the Spirit cannot substitute the flesh. This is the most comprehensive significance of the incarnation.
It has been said before that Christ took no part in the happiness of the world. Some say: “Christ ate very well, people received Him well everywhere He went. Some even bought Him nice things and He was highly regarded everywhere. … He didn’t suffer anything at all, so how could He have taken no part in it? He may not have had a great life, but He got by okay. That doesn’t mean He took no part in it!” Saying “He took no part in it” doesn’t mean that He didn’t enjoy these things, but rather He didn’t suffer any less because of these things. This is what is meant by “He took no part in it.” For example, 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 illness would not be eased at all. This is what is meant by “He took no part in it.” It’s like when eating, you can eat very well but must still suffer that which you must suffer, like an illness, or the constraints of the environment. This suffering cannot be eased because of the pleasures of the body, He doesn’t take these things for His enjoyment. So it is said “He took no part in it.” Could there be this kind of absurd person, who thinks, “If God takes no part in the happiness of the world, then it doesn’t matter how we receive Him as God will suffer regardless of what we do”? This way of receiving the truth is far too absurd. The hearts of people must be put to their best use; the duties of people must be done to their utmost ability. Then there are those who receive like this: “God used to enjoy utter bliss, and has now come to try something different.” 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, as when Jesus was crucified. Why did He have to be crucified? Was it not to redeem all mankind? Experiencing the suffering of the world this time also has considerable significance; it is for the beautiful destination of mankind. All of God’s work is the height of reality. Why is it said that man is now without sin, and can have the good fortune to come before God? It is because Jesus completed one stage of work and undertook man’s sins, redeeming man through His precious blood. So why then will mankind suffer no more, feel no grief, shed no tears, and sigh no more? This is because God incarnate this time has undertaken all this suffering unto Himself and this suffering has now been endured on behalf of man. Like a mother who sees her child stricken with illness and prays to Heaven, wishing rather a shorter life for herself if it means her child can be cured. God also works in this way, turning His pain into the beautiful destination that will follow for mankind. There will be no more grief, no more tears, no more sighs and no more suffering. In paying this price of experiencing the suffering of the world, He turns it into the beautiful destination that will follow for mankind. Saying that God “turns it into” the beautiful destination does not mean that God has no power or no authority, but rather that God wants to find a more practical and powerful proof to utterly convince people. God has already tasted this suffering, so He is qualified, He has the power, and even more so He has the right to deliver mankind to the beautiful destination, to give them this beautiful destination and make them a beautiful promise. Thereby Satan is also thoroughly convinced and all the creations in all the universe are sincerely convinced, in the end receiving the true love of God for mankind.
Everything God does is practical, and nothing He does is empty. God comes among humans, humbling Himself to be an ordinary person. He does not leave after simply doing a bit of work and speaking a few words; rather, He actually comes among humans to experience the suffering of the world. He 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 sincerity. 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 make utterances; 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 amongst 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 a powerful piece of 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’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. All the things He intends to do are done practically, and He pays actual price for them; He does not simply make utterances. Therefore, God is a righteous God; God is a faithful God.