Life-Study of Matthewby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we come to the actual anointing of the King (3:13-17).
Verse 13 says, “Then came Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan unto John to be baptized by him.” Two of the crucial words in this verse are Galilee and Jordan. This verse does not say that Jesus came from Bethlehem to Jerusalem to be sanctified. It says He came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized. We need to consider the significance of the phrase “from Galilee to the Jordan.” It is not easy to see why Jesus came not from Bethlehem but from Galilee and not to Jerusalem but to the Jordan. We also need to see why He came to John, who was a “wild” person, not to the high priest, who would have been a cultured and religious person. Moreover, we need to know why He came to be baptized, not to be sanctified.
In the New Testament, Galilee, a despised region, signifies rejection. Jesus did not come from Bethlehem because at that time Bethlehem was a place of honor and welcome. If you came out of Bethlehem, everyone would honor you and give you a warm welcome. But if you came from Galilee, everyone would despise you and reject you. Jesus came from such a despised and rejected place. This place was not rejected by God, but it was rejected by religion and culture. All those who come to the Lord’s recovery do not come from Bethlehem; rather, they come from Galilee. Do not try to come from a place of honor and warm welcome, but come from a place that is despised and rejected by religion and culture. Even if the president of a nation took the way of the church, he would also have to be one coming from Galilee to the Jordan. Throughout my years of watching and observing, I have seen that those of a high rank who turned to the way of the church were despised and rejected by today’s religion and culture. I am quite certain that if you are still honored and welcomed by today’s religion and culture, you are not on the way from Galilee to the Jordan. The way from Galilee to the Jordan is the correct way for the church. The way of today’s church life is not from Bethlehem to Jerusalem; it is from Galilee to the Jordan.
The way of the church is a narrow way. Even if there were no opposition to the Lord’s recovery but rather a high appraisal from every Christian organization, the number of those who would turn to the way of the church would still be about the same as it is today, simply because the way of the church is a narrow way. When some consider the church, they may say, “This is the kingdom of the heavens. Certainly this way must be very high.” Although this way is high, it is not high according to your concept. Instead, it is a highway from Galilee to the Jordan.
As we have pointed out, Jordan was a place of burial and resurrection. Thus, Jordan signifies termination and germination. The children of Israel traveled through the wilderness for about forty years, and eventually they were all buried in the Jordan River. Hence, the Jordan terminated them, ended their history of wandering in the wilderness, and terminated the age of wandering. But the Jordan also gave them a new beginning, for it germinated them and ushered them into a new age. It was the Jordan that brought the children of Israel out of the wilderness and into the good land, which is Christ. This is the significance of the Jordan.
In the church life our way today is the way from Galilee to the Jordan, the way from rejection to termination and resurrection. We all need to say to those who despise and reject us, “Farewell. I shall not seek to be welcomed by you. I am going to the place where I can be terminated and germinated.” In the church life there is no honor; instead, there is termination. Day by day we are terminated. In the church we have a mutual termination. We terminate one another every day, even every hour. But it is a good thing to be terminated. Termination is not the end; it is the beginning, because termination always leads to germination. Therefore, we can testify that every termination becomes a germination.
Sometimes the sisters say, “Brother Lee, the church life is wonderful, but it is often difficult for us sisters. We know that the brothers are the head and that we sisters must submit to them. The brothers are good, but they are too strong. We just cannot take it. Many times they have nearly killed us.” Whenever I hear this, I say, “Isn’t that good? How good it is to be terminated. Isn’t it good for the sisters to be killed by the brothers?”
A few years ago I was invited to a certain church. The brothers there told me that the sisters were so emotional and opinionated that they found it very difficult to have fellowship with them. They simply did not know how to handle the situation. Several days later some of the very sisters in question invited me to lunch. Their purpose in doing so was to have an opportunity to express their opinion. They told me their patience was exhausted because the brothers were so strong. They wanted me to give them the way to go on. Several days earlier I had been pressed by the brothers, but now I was being pressed by the sisters. I saw what a serious and terrible termination that was for both the brothers and the sisters. Both the brothers and the sisters were being terminated. But that mutual termination is very positive. Do you not love to be terminated? If you have never been terminated in the church life, get yourself prepared. I can assure you that in the church life we all shall be terminated, because we are on the way from Galilee to the Jordan.
When new ones come into the church life, they may say, “Hallelujah! I have seen the church life! How wonderful!” Whenever I hear this, I say within, “Yes, it is wonderful, but wait awhile. Sooner or later, this wonderful church life will terminate you.” In the church life I have been terminated dozens of times. I have experienced at least ten major terminations. I was terminated in Chefoo, Shanghai, Taipei, Manila, Los Angeles, and Anaheim. The marvelous church life is surely a terminating life. The wonderful church life terminates us all. Be prepared to be terminated. Those who have been in the church life for just a short time are probably still on their church honeymoon. The honeymoon is fine. But as every married couple knows, the honeymoon eventually turns into termination. Nearly every husband has terminated his wife, and every wife has terminated her husband. But this termination is very positive because it brings in germination. Hallelujah, termination issues in resurrection!
The church life truly is wonderful, but not wonderful according to our concept. The wonderful church life sooner or later will terminate us all. It will both terminate you and germinate you. I assure you that whatever you are, whatever you have, and whatever you can do will all be terminated. It may take a history of ten years in the church to accomplish this. Those who have been in the church for ten years can testify that every part of their being has been terminated. The longer we stay in the church, the more we are terminated. At first, the experience of termination is bitter. But later it becomes sweet. For me today it is sweet to be terminated. After a number of years of being terminated in the church life, you will be happy to be terminated. At first when you are terminated in the church life, you feel ashamed. Gradually, however, it becomes a sweet experience for you. We are on the way from Galilee to the Jordan, from the place of rejection to the place of termination.
It is in this place of termination that we meet the King. Here, in the church life, is where we meet Him. From the time I came into the church life, I have been brought to the Lord again and again. Day after day, the church life brings me to Christ, and it brings Christ the King to me. Eventually, the kingdom is here. This is the reason the church life is the kingdom.
I was taught by the Brethren that the kingdom had been suspended until a future time. I was also taught that the church today was not the kingdom. But in my experience I gradually realized that every time I was terminated I was brought to the King and the King was brought to me. In my experience this was the reality of the kingdom. It was through experience that I first came to know that the church life is the kingdom. My experience told me that the teaching I received from the Brethren regarding the kingdom was not accurate. According to my experience, I knew I was in the kingdom. Every time I was terminated, I met my King, and the kingdom was present. This is not a matter of doctrine; it is a matter of experience. Later, through further study of the New Testament, I received light on the matter of the kingdom, and my experience was confirmed. Now I can boldly say that according to the New Testament the kingdom is here today. Because they have not been terminated, some Christian teachers say that the kingdom has been suspended until some future time. They have not been brought to the King, and the King has not been brought to them. Thus, in their daily experience they do not have the kingdom. However, after you have been terminated on the way from Galilee to the Jordan, both the King and the kingdom will be present.
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