Life-Study of Johnby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The Gospel of John is not as simple as many people think. When John wrote his gospel, he was one hundred percent under the anointing of the dove, the Spirit. Thus, the composition of this gospel is marvelous. We have seen that chapter one gives an introduction to the whole book. Although some expositors of the Gospel of John say that the introduction includes only the first eighteen verses of chapter one, the Lord has shown us that the entire first chapter is an introduction. The introduction begins with eternity past and ends with eternity future. Between eternity past and eternity future is the bridge of time on which five main events transpire for the accomplishment of God’s eternal purpose. We have seen this clearly in the last message. John chapter one is also an extract of the whole Gospel of John. In fact, it is an extract of the whole Bible.
After giving us such an all-inclusive introduction, John presents several cases to illustrate the matter of life. Although Jesus did a great many signs before His disciples (20:30-31), John selected not more than twelve of them to illustrate the matter of life. Beginning with the case of Nicodemus in chapter three and ending with the resurrection of Lazarus in chapter eleven, nine cases are presented. If we add the incidents of the changing of water into wine, of the cleansing of the temple, and of the washing of feet, we have a total of twelve events. If you compare the record of the Gospel of John with that of the other gospels, you will find that they include many things which John does not, and that John records many things which they do not. For example, Matthew, Mark, and Luke say nothing about Jesus’ changing water into wine. Neither do they mention the Lord’s conversation with Nicodemus regarding regeneration. Do not think that these differences are accidental. No, each gospel was carefully planned by the Divine Writer. Matthew wrote his gospel with a specific purpose—to prove that Jesus is the King and the Christ. In order to prove this, Matthew selected some incidents and cases in the life of Christ which demonstrate that Jesus is the King of Israel and God’s Christ. Since Luke’s purpose was to show that Jesus is the Savior of mankind, he selected the cases which prove that Jesus is the Savior. For instance, the story of the prodigal son is recorded in Luke, but not in Matthew, Mark, or John. Why is this story recorded in Luke? Because this story proves that Jesus is the Savior. Another incident recorded only in Luke is that of the thief on the cross who asked the Lord to remember him when He came into His kingdom (Luke 23:39-43). Luke also tells us of the Lord’s answer to that dying thief: “Today you shall be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43). Neither Matthew, Mark, nor John gives us such an account. In the same principle, all the cases recorded by John prove that Christ is life to meet our need. Based upon this principle, we must realize that the incident of changing water into wine (2:1-11) is not merely the account of a story; it has a spiritual meaning with a special significance. Now we need to find out the spiritual significance of this event.
When I first heard the story of Jesus’ changing water into wine, I did not know the meaning behind this event. Later I came to understand that this was not simply a story, but an event accomplished by the Lord Jesus to establish the principle of life. What is the principle of life? The principle of life is to change death into life. In each of the nine cases recorded from chapters three through eleven, the principle is to change death into life. This is especially clear with the case of Lazarus. Lazarus was dead and had been buried for four days. He even smelled. He was full of death from top to bottom and from the inside to the outside. In every layer and corner of his being there was nothing but death. As the record of chapter eleven tells us, when the Lord Jesus learned that Lazarus was sick, He did not go to see him. He waited until he was full of death, until he was dead and buried. Then He came to raise Lazarus from the dead. If we apply the principle of life to that case, we see that Jesus changed death into life.
This principle not only applies to the last case, that of Lazarus, but to the first case, that of Nicodemus. Do you think that Nicodemus was not a person full of death? Because he was full of death, the Lord told him that he needed to be born again that he might have the eternal life which is God Himself (3:3, 5-6). In a sense, Nicodemus was living, but in the eyes of God he was a living dead person. In God’s eyes, Nicodemus was dead. He also needed his death to be changed into life. Nicodemus did not even realize that he was sinful, much less that he was dead. Nevertheless, in the eyes of God, he was sinful, serpentine, and dead. As such a person, he needed the changing of death into life.
The same is true with the Samaritan woman in chapter four. The Samaritan woman was thirsty, and thirst is a sign of death. When you are thirsty, it means that you are going to die. The fact that you are thirsty indicates that you have death’s element within you. Only the Lord Jesus can quench that thirst. To quench thirst means to change death into life. And so it is with every case recorded by John. Each incident illustrates the principle established in the event of changing water into wine—the principle of changing death into life.
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