Life-Study of Markby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
We have seen that in chapter one of the Gospel of Mark there are five matters that are the contents of the Slave-Savior’s gospel service: preaching the gospel (1:14-20), teaching the truth (vv. 21-22), casting out demons (vv. 23-28), healing the sick (vv. 29-39), and cleansing the leper (vv. 40-45). We have also seen in 2:1—3:6 five ways in which the Slave-Savior carried out this gospel service: forgiving the sins of the sick (2:1-12), feasting with sinners (2:13-17), causing His followers to be merry without fasting (2:18-22), caring for His followers’ hunger rather than for religion’s regulation (2:23-28), and caring for the relief of the suffering one rather than for the ritual of religion (3:1-6). In 3:7-35 we have another group of five items. This group includes the auxiliary acts for the gospel service: averting the crowd’s pressing (vv. 7-12), appointing the apostles to preach (vv. 13-19), not eating because of the urgent need (vv. 20-21), binding Satan and plundering his house by the Holy Spirit (vv. 22-30), and not remaining in the relationship of the natural life but in that of the spiritual life (vv. 31-35). In all the items in each of these three groups we see the excellency of the Lord Jesus. In this message and in the message following we shall consider these auxiliary acts for the Slave-Savior’s gospel service.
In carrying out a ministry which God has commissioned to us, we shall face problems, opposition, and frustration. Certain problems are caused by something that is done in a natural way with the intention of helping us. The Lord faced this kind of frustration in His ministry. As He was carrying out the ministry of His gospel service, He met problems.
In 3:7-12 we have the problem of the crowd pressing upon the Lord. Verse 7 says that a great multitude followed Him and His disciples, and in verse 8 we see that “a great multitude, hearing what great things He was doing, came to Him.” The multitude gathered around Him because they heard what He was doing. This crowd was a frustration to the Lord’s ministry.
Many of today’s preachers and evangelists like to have a large crowd. However, the crowd is not a help to the real ministry of life. On the contrary, a crowd, a multitude, for the most part may help us to have a movement, but it does not help the ministry in life.
In 3:7-12 two significant words are used with respect to the crowd: press (vv. 9-10) and touch (v. 10). Verse 9 says, “And He told His disciples that a little boat should stand ready near Him because of the crowd, that they might not press upon Him.” The Lord wanted to get into a boat in order to avert the pressing of the crowd. The crowd’s pressing hindered the way for the sincere ones to come to the Lord and touch Him directly. If we are among those who merely press upon the Lord, we shall not receive anything from Him. In order to receive from Him, we need to touch Him. Therefore, in this portion of the Gospel of Mark the word “press” is used in a negative sense, whereas the word “touch” has a positive meaning.
According to the record of the Gospels, a number of times people pressed upon the Lord. But only those who touched Him received any benefit. It is through a direct touch with the Lord that life is imparted from Him to us. This impartation of life we call transmission or infusion. Another term is dispensing. When we contact the Lord directly, we receive the divine dispensing. But pressing upon the Lord does not accomplish anything as far as the divine dispensing is concerned. We experience the divine dispensing only by directly touching the Lord. Because the Lord realized this, He wanted to separate Himself from the crowd. For this reason He withdrew with His disciples to the sea.
Although the Lord left the crowd, the crowd continued to follow Him. Because of this, even when He was at the seashore the crowd was seeking to press upon Him. Hence, He told His disciples that a little boat should stand ready near Him. He did not want the crowd to press upon Him. The boat was a means for the Lord Jesus to be separated from the crowd.
In figure, the little boat that the Lord wanted to stand ready near Him signifies the church. In Matthew 13 the boat has this significance. The church is different from the nation of Israel, which is signified by the land. The church is also different from the Gentile world, which is signified by water. The church is something that is separated from the land and is on the water. Therefore, the church is neither on the land nor in the water. Although the church “boat” is on the water, it is not in the water, and the water is not in the boat. Therefore, the land signifies the nation of Israel, the sea signifies the Gentile world, and the boat, which is separated from both the land and the sea, signifies the church. By this we see that the church is separated both from the nation of Israel and from the Gentile world. This understanding is according to Paul’s word in 1 Corinthians 10:32 concerning the Jews, the Greeks (the Gentiles), and the church of God.
Today the Lord is ministering His life to those in the church; He is also ministering from within the church to others. This is the significance of the boat. If we see the significance of the figure of the boat, we shall realize that if we are out of the church and try to minister to people, we may suffer the pressing of the crowd. Today many ministries are being rendered to a crowd without a boat. However, the proper ministry is a ministry in the boat, a ministry that imparts the life supply not to those who press the Lord, but to those who sincerely desire to touch Him.
What the Lord did concerning the crowd should be an example to us, and we should follow in His steps. However, most preachers and evangelists today appreciate a crowd. The greater the crowd, the happier they are. But the facts of history indicate that a great crowd causes a loss, not a benefit, to the genuine ministry of life.
Here we see that the Lord’s way is different from man’s way. Instead of treasuring the crowd, He sought to avoid the crowd. When the crowd followed Him, He asked that a little boat be made ready in order that He might go away from the crowd that pressed upon Him.
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