Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
We come in this message to the first mystery of the kingdom, covered in 13:3 through 8 and 18 through 23.
At the beginning of the first of the seven parables concerning the mysteries of the kingdom, the Lord did not say, “The kingdom of the heavens was likened unto,” as He did in the other six parables (vv. 24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47), because the kingdom of the heavens began with the second parable. In the first parable, the Lord was going out only to sow the seed for the kingdom. The seed had not yet grown to be the crop for the formation of the kingdom. Hence, the kingdom had not yet come, but had only drawn near in the Lord’s preaching (4:17).
When the Lord Jesus came, He came to do the preliminary work for the establishment of the kingdom. Throughout His human life, from His birth to His resurrection, the kingdom of the heavens still had not come. What He did in His life was a preparation for the establishment of the kingdom of the heavens.
Verses 3 and 4 say that a sower went out to sow some seeds. In His preliminary work for the establishment of the kingdom of the heavens, the Lord Jesus came as a sower. Several times the Lord was called a teacher. But here He likens himself not to a teacher, but to a sower. The sower in verse 3 is the Lord Himself (v. 37). Actually, the Lord did not come to teach, but to sow the seed. What is this seed? It is the word of the kingdom with the King in it as life (v. 19). The seed is also the sons, the people, of the kingdom (v. 38). If we check with our experience, we shall realize that the seed sown by the Lord Jesus into our humanity is just Himself as life to make us the seed of the kingdom. Here three things are interrelated: the word of the kingdom, the sons of the kingdom, and Christ Himself as the life within the seed. These three cannot be separated. The word of the kingdom actually is Christ Himself as the word of life. This seed eventually produces the sons of the kingdom, who are the believers. Therefore, the seed refers to the word of the kingdom, to Christ Himself as life, and to us, the sons of the kingdom. By Christ’s being the living word of life sown into our being, we are made the sons of the kingdom.
In this parable we see that Christ establishes the kingdom of the heavens not by fighting or teaching, but by sowing Himself as the seed of life into believing people so that the kingdom of the heavens may grow up. The establishment of the kingdom of the heavens is absolutely a matter of growth in life. To establish the kingdom is to grow the kingdom. The kingdom is not established by outward working, but by inward growing. We need to emphasize this matter again and again. Because many Christian workers have not seen this, they still think that the church is built up by work and labor. But the church can be produced only by sowing Christ as the seed into humanity. This seed will grow within people and produce the church. The seed of life, Christ Himself in the word, sown into humanity will grow the church. The church is not produced by work; it is altogether produced by the growth in life. Therefore, the kingdom of the heavens is brought into being not by teaching or by working, but by sowing Christ as the living word of life into humanity. This seed will grow, and the life in it will produce the kingdom. The kingdom is absolutely a matter of life which has grown. The source of the kingdom is Christ as the seed of life. May we all be deeply impressed with the fact that the kingdom is a matter of life.
In this parable, which gives us a clear picture of the preliminary work of the kingdom, Christ came as a sower. Everyone who has sown seed knows that if there is no life in the seed, nothing will happen. Without life, it is impossible to have growth. In this parable Christ came neither as a great prophet to prophesy nor as a mighty king to rule. Yes, He was a prophet and a king, but in this parable He appears as a sower, not as a prophet or a king. In His hand there is not a scepter for ruling or for exercising authority, but seed for producing life. He came as a sower to sow Himself as the seed. Oh, may we all see this! This vision will revolutionize our concept and our Christian work. If we see this vision, we would no longer trust in what we do because we would know that the kingdom is a matter of life, that the church is a matter of growth in the life seed sown into our humanity. Therefore, we would trust completely in the growth of life. Those who have been with us for a number of years can testify that I do not teach others what they should do. I do not give them instructions regarding their behavior. But in meeting after meeting, conference after conference, and training after training, I have ministered Christ as the all-inclusive, life-giving Spirit. It has always been a matter of Christ, life, the Spirit, and the church.
We all need to see this basic vision that the kingdom is a matter of life growing in us. The young people who are burdened for the campuses must see this vision. Young people, if you go to the campuses to do a work, that will mean nothing. You should not go there to work, but to sow the seed, to be a sower. During the years I was with Brother Nee in China, I saw that he was not working; he was sowing Christ as a seed. He told me that Miss M. E. Barber did not come to China to work. She was in China sowing Christ, even sowing herself in Christ. She was a seed sown into that district in China. Eventually, something grew out of that seed. The Lord’s recovery today is the produce of the seed sown by Sister Barber and Brother Nee. Do not think that our working means very much. No, our working does not mean anything. If you study the Gospels again, you will see that the first Christian worker was Christ Himself. However, He did not work very much. Instead, He was sowing.
In the parable of the sower the Lord gives us a picture of what He came to do. He came as a sower to sow the seed. To those who are proud this parable is a mystery. The Pharisees would probably say, “We know all about this and don’t want to hear of it. We know what a sower is. We know that a sower simply sows seed and that this seed falls on various types of soil. This is elementary. We want to hear something deep, something philosophical. Speak to us about the laws of Moses. Jesus, have you never read Moses and the Psalms? We would like to hear about this, not about some seed falling on the wayside, rocky places, thorns, and good soil. You are just a kindergarten teacher.” But to those who are poor in spirit and pure in heart this parable is much more profound than the teaching of Moses and all the Psalms. Hallelujah for the sower, the seed, and the good earth! This is altogether a matter of life. We need more hymns on the sower, the sowing, the seed, and the growth. Again I say, the kingdom grows; it is not built by our labor. Do not try to build the church, for what the church needs is growth. Day after day we need to sow Christ.
Recently an opposer told a brother, “We are going to stop you.” He said that they were planning to stop the Lord’s recovery. If the opposers try to do this, they will find themselves in trouble. Do not touch anything of life, for the more you touch it, the more it multiplies. If you leave it alone, it may remain dormant. But if you touch it, it will grow. Suppose you say to some seed, “Seed, I shall stop you. I shall bury you in the earth.” How good that would be for the seed! But if you leave the seeds on a pedestal, appreciating them, looking at them, and treasuring them, that will be the most effective way to stop them. But if you try to terminate the seed by burying it in the earth, the seed will grow. The opposers simply do not know what the Lord’s recovery is. The Lord’s recovery is not work, teaching, or theology. It is a seed; it is the living Christ as a seed. I have the assurance to declare to the whole universe that the all-inclusive Christ as the life-giving Spirit has been sown into thousands of Americans. Do not touch them. If you try to persecute them or bury them, the one grain will be multiplied into many more grains. Who can stop the Lord’s recovery? The seed has already been sown. The Lord came to the earth as a sower to sow Himself. Hallelujah, Jesus has been sown into humanity! The principle is the same in the Lord’s recovery today. The recovery as the seed of life has been sown in America, Europe, Brazil, and many other places. No one and nothing can stop it. The Lord’s recovery is not a movement. It is Christ Himself as the seed of life sown into our being. The sower is Christ, and the seed is also Christ, Christ in the word sown into us to make us the sons of the kingdom.
According to this parable and the Lord’s own interpretation of it, this seed is sown into our heart (v. 19). In the past we have pointed out that our heart is not the receiving organ, but the loving organ, and that our receiving organ is our spirit. We say this based upon Ezekiel 36, where God promises to give us a new spirit and a new heart, a new spirit to receive God and a new heart to love Him. Here the Lord Jesus does not mention anything about the spirit; but He does say that the heart is the place where the seed is sown. Nothing can enter our spirit without first passing through our heart. In 1 Peter 3:4 our spirit is called the inner man of our heart. This indicates that our spirit is surrounded by our heart. The three main sections of the heart are the mind, the emotion, and the will. When we believed in the Lord Jesus, we had no awareness that we were exercising our spirit. But we did realize that we believed in Him with our heart. In other words, when we believed in Him, we opened our heart. The result, however, was that He came into our spirit. When we opened our heart to believe in Him, He came into our spirit. But our spirit is not the soil for growing Christ. The soil is our heart. This parable makes it perfectly clear that our heart is the soil, the earth, the very place where the seed is sown and where it grows. Therefore, in this parable the Lord does not deal with our spirit; He mainly touches our heart.
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