Life-Study of Markby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall continue to consider the beginning of the gospel and the initiation of the Slave-Savior.
Mark 1:1 and 2 say, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Even as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way.” The beginning of the gospel of the Slave-Savior is even as what is written in Isaiah concerning the ministry of John the Baptist. This indicates that John’s preaching of the baptism of repentance was also a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It terminated the dispensation of law and changed it to the dispensation of grace. Hence, the dispensation of grace began with the ministry of John before the ministry of the Slave-Savior.
The beginning of the gospel is the termination of law and the germination of grace. The beginning of the gospel terminated the dispensation of the law and started the dispensation of grace. Not only did the beginning of the gospel start the dispensation of grace, but it also germinated the dispensation of grace. To start something is outward, but to germinate something is to cause it to have an inward beginning in life.
The beginning of the gospel is the termination of the entire old dispensation, the dispensation of the law. But in order for a termination to be called a beginning, the termination must be followed by germination. This germination involves a divine injection, and this injection was the initiation of the Slave-Savior.
Mark 1:3 speaks of “a voice of one crying in the wilderness.” The beginning of the ministry of the gospel of the Slave-Savior was only a voice, not a great movement. Furthermore, the preaching of the gospel of the Slave-Savior began not in any center of civilization, but began in the wilderness, beyond the influence of human culture.
It was according to prophecy that John the Baptist began his ministry in the wilderness. This indicates that the introduction of God’s New Testament economy by John was not accidental, but was planned and foretold by God through Isaiah the prophet. This implied that God intended His New Testament economy to begin in an absolutely new way. John the Baptist did his preaching not in the holy temple within the holy city, where the religious and cultured people worshipped God according to their scriptural ordinances, but in the wilderness, not keeping any regulation of the old way. This indicates that the old way of the worship of God according to the Old Testament was repudiated, and a new way was about to be brought in. The wilderness is a place without culture, religion, or anything of human society or civilization. The use of the word “wilderness” here indicates that the new way of God’s New Testament economy is against religion and culture.
Verse 4 says, “John the baptizer came in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for forgiveness of sins.” John was born a priest (Luke 1:8-13, 57-63); hence, he should have lived a priestly life in the temple to do the priestly service. But he went to the wilderness and preached the gospel. This indicates that the age of the priesthood to offer sacrifices to God was replaced by the age of the gospel to bring sinners to God so that God may gain them and that they may gain God. Verse 6 says, “John was clothed in camel’s hair and had a leather girdle around his loins; and he ate locusts and wild honey.” The way John lived signifies that his living and work were altogether in a new dispensation, not according to the way of the old religion, culture, and tradition. As a priest, John, according to the regulations of the law should have worn the priestly garment, which was made mainly of fine linen (Exo. 28:4, 40-41; Lev. 6:10; Ezek. 44:17-18). He also should have eaten priestly food, which was composed mainly of fine flour and the meat of the sacrifices offered to God by His people (Lev. 2:1-3; 6:16-18, 25-26; 7:31-34). However, John did altogether otherwise. He was clothed in camel’s hair, he had a leather girdle around his loins, and he ate locusts and wild honey. These things are uncivilized, uncultured, and not according to religious regulations. For a priestly person to wear camel’s hair was an especially drastic blow to the religious mind, for the camel was regarded as unclean under Levitical regulations (Lev. 11:4). In addition, John did not live in a civilized place, but lived in the wilderness (Luke 3:2). All this indicates that he had completely abandoned the Old Testament dispensation, which had fallen into a kind of religion mixed with human culture. His commission was to introduce God’s New Testament economy, which is constituted solely of Christ and the Spirit of life.
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