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 I would like to give a further word on chapter thirteen, one of the most difficult chapters for us to understand. Many readers of the New Testament regard Mark 13 merely as a prophecy. Actually, this chapter is not merely a prophecy; it is also a word of preparation given by the Lord Jesus to His followers. Two indications of this are the word “temple” in verse 1 and the expression “birth pangs” in verse 8.
In chapter eleven the Lord Jesus cleansed the temple (11:15-17). In a very real sense, the Lord condemned the temple. After cleansing the temple, the Lord Jesus dealt with the leaders of Judaism, those who were especially concerned for the temple. The disciples heard all that the Lord said to those leaders. After such a thorough dealing with the temple and with the Jewish leaders, the Lord went out of the temple. Mark 13:1 says, “And as He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples says to Him, Teacher, behold, what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” This is a strong indication that the Lord’s disciples were still occupied with the traditional concept of the temple, which was a sign or symbol of the Jewish religion. For the disciples to still have such a regard for the temple meant that they were fully occupied with their old religion.
When the Lord Jesus was on earth. God’s intention in His economy was to change the dispensation from the old things to Christ. It was God’s desire that Christ would replace the things of the former dispensation. This is the reason we say that Christ, who is both God and man, is the universal replacement. Christ as the universal replacement was first revealed on the Mount of Transfiguration. The Lord brought three of His disciples to the top of this mountain in order to show them that God in His economy intended to replace everything with Christ. There would be no place for Moses or Elijah, and no place for the natural man. Everything and everyone must be replaced by Christ, the all-inclusive One.
When the Lord Jesus cleansed the temple, He was preparing to replace the old things with Himself. He was canceling, annulling, the things of the old dispensation in order to prepare the way for His disciples to take Him as their replacement. He was preparing them to be brought into His death and resurrection so that He might be their all-inclusive replacement.
To take Christ as our replacement through His death and resurrection is to be brought out of the old creation and to enter into the new creation. God’s economy is first to produce the old creation, and then to bring forth the new creation out of the old.
God’s new creation is mainly the new man. The producing of the new man out of the old creation involves the process of birth. The expression “birth pangs” in 13:8 refers to the travail involved in the birth of the new man.
The period of time between Christ’s resurrection and ascension and His coming back is for the delivery of the new man. We believe that we are living toward the end of that period of time in which the new man is being delivered. Looking back upon more than nineteen centuries of history since the Lord’s ascension, it is easy for us to realize that throughout the centuries many have experienced the birth pangs for the delivery of the new man. The Jews, the Gentiles, and all the cultures and civilizations of the world have been part of these birth pangs. Even the wars that have taken place have been part of the birth pangs. These birth pangs are for one thing—the bringing forth of the new man.
Today’s world situation with its birth pangs is for the birth of the new man. This is the reason I watch the world situation.
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