Life-Study of Markby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to chapter four of the Gospel of Mark, a crucial chapter concerning the kingdom of God.
Once again I would call your attention to the sequence of the narration of the Gospel of Mark. In 1:14-45 we have the contents of the gospel service: preaching the gospel, teaching the truth, casting out demons, healing the sick, and cleansing the leper. Then in 2:1—3:6 we see the ways of carrying out the gospel service: forgiving the sins of the sick, feasting with sinners, causing His followers to be merry without fasting, caring for His followers’ hunger rather than for religion’s regulation, and caring for the relief of the suffering one rather than for the ritual of religion. Following this, in 3:7-35 we have five auxiliary acts for the gospel service: averting the crowd’s pressing, appointing the apostles to preach, not eating because of the urgent need, binding Satan and plundering his house by the Holy Spirit, and not remaining in the relationship of the natural life but in that of the spiritual life.
Although we see in these three sections a complete view concerning the gospel, we do not see the intrinsic essence of the gospel. Neither do we see in these sections of Mark the purpose of the gospel and its issue. We do not yet see what the gospel is for. This is the reason that in chapter four the record of this Gospel comes to the matter of the kingdom of God.
In 1:15 we have the first utterance of the Lord Jesus in His gospel preaching: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has drawn near. Repent and believe in the gospel!” This verse indicates clearly that the gospel is for the kingdom, and this kingdom is neither the kingdom of man nor the kingdom of Israel, but the kingdom of God.
What is the kingdom of God? It is not easy to define the kingdom. In order to understand what the kingdom of God is, we need to consider the entire Old Testament, for in the Old Testament we have a clear view of the kingdom.
We may say that a kingdom is a sphere, or a realm, where a person accomplishes something. Sometimes we say that a certain person has his own kingdom. This means that he has a realm, a sphere, where he can work to reach his goal or fulfill his plan. Hence, a kingdom is a realm where a person does what he wants to do. According to the Old Testament, there is a realm called the kingdom of God. The kingdom of God is a sphere, a realm, for God to work out His eternal purpose and accomplish His goal.
After creating the heavens, the earth, and billions of items, God created man. According to the book of Genesis, God created man for a twofold purpose. On the positive side, God created man in His image so that man may express Him. On the negative side, God gave man His dominion over all created things. Dominion means authority in a particular realm or sphere. Dominion, therefore, is related to God’s kingdom. In Genesis 1 we see that with man we have God’s image and God’s dominion. God’s image is for His expression, and God’s dominion is for His kingdom.
God in His creation wanted man to express Him. In order to have such an expression, God needs a sphere, and this sphere is a kingdom, a realm where God can exercise His authority. God gave His authority to man and established man as the head of all created things. By this we see that immediately after the creation of man, God set up a kingdom on earth. The kingdom of God, therefore, can be seen in the first chapter of Genesis.
Eventually, after the fall of man, God called Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The book of Genesis records the experiences of these patriarchs and of the children of Israel and their sojourn in Egypt. According to the record in Exodus, God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. Exodus 19:6 reveals God’s purpose in bringing the children of Israel out of Egypt: “Ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.” The Lord brought the children of Israel out of Egypt in order to make them a kingdom of priests, a kingdom in which everyone would be a priest, one who serves God. Hence, God’s goal was to have a priestly kingdom.
From Exodus 19 until the end of the Old Testament we have the record of the history of a kingdom. We should not regard this kingdom merely as the kingdom of Israel. Rather, this was the kingdom of God expressed in the kingdom of Israel.
As we study the Old Testament, we see that God was not able to accomplish His purpose with Adam, Noah, or the nation of Israel. Although the kingdom of God was expressed in the kingdom of Israel, God was not able to reach His goal through the children of Israel. Therefore, eventually God Himself came through the way of incarnation.
Not being able to fulfill His purpose through the first Adam and his descendants, God came through incarnation as the last Adam. As God incarnate, the Lord Jesus came to establish the kingdom of God, to establish a realm in which God can carry out His purpose through the exercise of His authority. This was the reason the Lord taught His disciples to pray for the coming of the kingdom (Matt. 6:10). This was also the reason the Lord Jesus in His preaching of the gospel told people to repent for the kingdom of God. The Lord declared that the kingdom of God had drawn near and that people must repent in order to enter into the kingdom. Those who repent because the kingdom of God has drawn near will be able to participate in the accomplishment of God’s eternal purpose.
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