Life-Study of Markby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The Gospel of Mark gives us a record of the activities of the Slave-Savior. As we have pointed out, it is not the intention of this Gospel to give us a record of the Slave-Savior’s words or teaching. Of course, this Gospel does tell us that the Lord Jesus taught. However, Mark does not emphasize the Lord’s words.
Chapter four, which may be regarded as an insertion, differs from the rest of the Gospel of Mark in that it gives us a record of four of the Lord’s parables. In 4:1-34 we do not have a description of the activity or move of the Slave-Savior. Rather, in this chapter we have an account of the Slave-Savior’s teaching concerning the kingdom of God. This chapter, a chapter of teaching, is crucial.
If we compare chapter four of Mark with chapter thirteen of Matthew, we shall see that Mark 4 is much shorter than Matthew 13. In Matthew 13 we have seven parables, but in Mark 4 we have only four: the parable of the sower (vv. 1-20), the parable of the lamp (vv. 21-25), the parable of the seed (vv. 26-29), and the parable of the mustard seed (vv. 30-34). Of these four parables, only the parable of the lamp is not included in Matthew 13.
The crucial matter revealed in chapter four of the Gospel of Mark is the kingdom seed or kingdom gene. The kingdom of God is not produced by activity or organization. The kingdom of God is actually God Himself sown into human beings and developing in them into a kingdom.
We need to be impressed with the fact that the kingdom of God is not a matter of teaching, activity, or organization. On the contrary, the kingdom of God is the Triune God in His incarnation sown into His chosen people to grow and develop in them into a kingdom.
In this brief definition of the kingdom we have a statement of the intrinsic element of the entire teaching of the New Testament. What does the New Testament teach us? The New Testament teaches us that the Triune God has been incarnated in order to be sown into His chosen people and then develop within them into a kingdom. This is the intrinsic element of the New Testament teaching.
If we read the New Testament in this light, we shall see that the Triune God became a man. When this man, Jesus Christ, began to preach the gospel and teach the truth, He was sowing Himself into others. This means that His preaching of the gospel and His teaching of the truth were actually a sowing of Himself into those who heard Him. While He was preaching and teaching, He was sowing His word into His hearers. His word conveyed Himself into them. Hence, through His word He Himself as the God-man, the Triune God in humanity, was sown into His chosen people. Preaching and teaching were His way of sowing Himself as the seed of the kingdom. When God’s chosen people heard the word of this God-man and received it, they were actually receiving a wonderful Person, the One who is both the Triune God and a real man. This is what is recorded in the four Gospels.
The four Gospels reveal the Triune God incarnated. This God-man eventually came forth to sow Himself into God’s chosen people by preaching and teaching. When those who had been chosen by God heard His word and received it, they received the seed, the gene, of the kingdom. This seed, this gene, is the incarnated God, the Triune God in humanity. In the Gospels we have the sowing of this seed of the kingdom.
In the Acts we have the propagation and spreading of this sowing. In the Gospels we do have some spreading, first from one Sower to twelve sowers and then from twelve sowers to seventy sowers. But in Acts hundreds and even thousands of sowers were raised up. All these sowers were those who received the seed, the gene. By receiving the seed they became those who could then sow it into others. In this way we have the propagation of the sowing and of the seed.
In the Epistles we see the growing of the seed, the gene of the kingdom. We see this growth, in particular, in chapter three of 1 Corinthians. In 1 Corinthians 3:9b Paul says, “You are God’s farm.” Elsewhere in the same chapter Paul says, “I planted, Apollos watered, but God made to grow” (v. 6). Here in this chapter we have the growth, the development, of the seed.
Further development of the kingdom gene is seen in chapter one of 2 Peter. According to 2 Peter 1:3, God’s “divine power has granted to us all things which relate to life and godliness.” All things pertaining to the divine life have been given to us for the purpose of development. We have a description of this development in 2 Peter 1:5-7: “Supply bountifully in your faith virtue, and in virtue knowledge, and in knowledge self-control, and in self-control endurance, and in endurance godliness, and in godliness brotherly love, and in brotherly love love.” Here we have the steps of the development of the seed unto maturity. Peter indicates that if we have this development, “So shall be richly and bountifully supplied to you the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (v. 11). Hence, we clearly have in the Epistles the development of the seed of the kingdom.
The harvest of this seed is found in the last book of the New Testament, the book of Revelation. According to Revelation 14, we first have the firstfruit and then the harvest. Revelation 14:4 speaks of those who “were purchased from among men as firstfruit to God and to the Lamb.” Then in verse 15 we see that the “harvest of the earth is ripe.”
Those who are the firstfruit spoken of in Revelation 14 will be among those who will be co-kings with Christ in the millennium. The millennium, the thousand years, will be the full development of the gene of the kingdom. During the millennium many of those who have received the kingdom gene will be co-kings with Christ. At that time our Father might boast to His enemy, “Little Satan, where are you? You are in the abyss. I ask you, Satan, to look at My kingdom. I especially ask you to look at all those who are now co-kings with Christ. Many who have believed in My Son and received the gene of the kingdom have become co-kings with Him. My Son is the King, and all the overcoming believers are His co-kings. Satan, look at the King and the co-kings. What a wonderful kingdom this is!”
Our God is the everlasting God, the eternal One, and with Him there is no element of time. “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (2 Pet. 3:8). From God’s point of view, the thousand years of the millennium will simply be one day for Him to display His wonderful kingdom. But for Satan that display of the kingdom will last a thousand years. During that time Satan will be bound in the abyss.
At the end of the millennium, Satan will be released and allowed to rebel again. Concerning this, Revelation 20:7 and 8 say, “And when the thousand years are completed, Satan will be loosed out of his prison, and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four corners of the earth, Gog and Magog.” Although Satan will instigate rebellion among the nations, he will not be able to touch the co-kings, for they will have been transformed by the kingdom gene. All the rebellious element that is in the fallen humanity of these co-kings will have been swallowed up by the kingdom gene. Therefore, it will be impossible for Satan, the evil one, to instigate the “kingdom-gene people” to rebel against God. However, a large number of those in the restored nations will follow him. Revelation 20:9 tells us the outcome of this last rebellion: “And they went up over the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city; and fire came down out of heaven and devoured them.” Those of the restored nations who do not join in the rebellion will be transferred into the new earth.
In the new heaven and the new earth God will have an eternal kingdom with the New Jerusalem as the capital. The New Jerusalem will be a composition of kings, and these kings will rule over the fully restored nations. Then God will have an eternal kingdom as the full development of the gene sown in the Gospels by Jesus the Nazarene, who was the Triune God in humanity.
How wonderful is the kingdom gene that was sown in the Gospels! Eventually this gene will develop into the millennial kingdom spoken of in Revelation 20 and into God’s eternal kingdom in Revelation 21 and 22. Praise the Lord for this picture of the kingdom gene and its development!
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