The Son of Man Is Lord Even of the Sabbath Day (Part 2)
Next, let us take a look at the last sentence in this passage: “For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.” Is there a practical side to this sentence? Can you see the practical side? Every single thing that God says comes from His heart, so why did He say this? How do you understand it? You may understand the meaning of this sentence now, but at the time when it was spoken not many people did because mankind had just come out of the Age of Law. For them, departing from the Sabbath was a very difficult thing to do, not to mention understanding what a true Sabbath is.
The sentence “the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” tells people that everything about God is not of a material nature, and although God can provide for all of your material needs, once all of your material needs have been met, can the satisfaction from these things replace your pursuit of truth? That is clearly not possible! God’s disposition and what He has and is, which we have fellowshiped about, are both the truth. Its value cannot be measured against any material objects, no matter how valuable, nor can its value be quantified in terms of money, because it is not a material object, and it supplies the needs of each and every person’s heart. For every person, the value of these intangible truths should be greater than the value of any material things that you might value, should they not? This statement is something you need to linger over. The key point of what I have said is that what God has and is and everything about God are the most important things for every single person and cannot be replaced by any material object. I will give you an example: When you are hungry, you need food. This food can be more or less good or more or less unsatisfactory, but as long as you have your fill, that unpleasant feeling of being hungry will no longer be there—it will be gone. You can sit in peace, and your body will be at rest. People’s hunger can be resolved with food, but when you are following God and feel that you have no understanding of Him, how can you resolve the emptiness in your heart? Can it be resolved with food? Or when you are following God and do not understand His will, what can you use to make up for that hunger in your heart? In the process of your experience of salvation through God, while pursuing a change in your disposition, if you do not understand His will or do not know what the truth is, if you do not understand God’s disposition, then will you not feel very uneasy? Will you not feel a strong hunger and thirst in your heart? Will these feelings not prevent you from feeling at rest in your heart? So how can you make up for that hunger in your heart—is there a way to resolve it? Some people go shopping, some seek out their friends to confide in, some people indulge in a long sleep, others read more of God’s words, or they work harder and expend more effort to fulfill their duties. Can these things resolve your actual difficulties? All of you fully understand these kinds of practices. When you feel powerless, when you feel a strong desire to gain enlightenment from God to allow you to know the reality of the truth and His will, what do you need most? What you need is not a full meal, and it is not a few kind words, let alone the transient comfort and satisfaction of the flesh—what you need is for God to directly and clearly tell you what you should do and how you should do it, to clearly tell you what the truth is. After you have understood this, even if you gain only a tiny bit of understanding, will you not feel more satisfied in your heart than if you had eaten a good meal? When your heart is satisfied, does not your heart and your entire being gain true rest? Through this analogy and analysis, do you understand now why I wanted to share with you this sentence, “the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day”? Its meaning is that what comes from God, what He has and is, and everything about Him, are greater than any other thing, including the thing or the person you once believed you treasured most. That is to say, if a person cannot gain words from the mouth of God or they do not understand His will, they cannot gain rest. In your future experiences, you will understand why I wanted you to see this passage today—this is very important. Everything that God does is truth and life. The truth is something that people cannot lack in their lives, and it is something they can never do without; you could also say that it is the greatest thing. Although you cannot look at it or touch it, its importance to you cannot be ignored; it is the only thing that can bring rest to your heart.
Is your understanding of truth integrated with your own states? In real life, you first have to think of which truths relate to the people, events, and things you have encountered; it is among these truths that you can find God’s will and connect what you have encountered with His will. If you do not know which aspects of the truth relate to the things you have encountered but instead go directly to seek God’s will, this is a blind approach which cannot achieve results. If you want to seek the truth and understand God’s will, first you need to look at what kind of things have happened to you, which aspects of the truth they are related to, and look for the specific truth in the word of God that relates to what you have experienced. Then you look for the path of practice that is right for you in that truth; in this way you can gain an indirect understanding of God’s will. Searching for and practicing the truth is not mechanically applying a doctrine or following a formula. The truth is not formulaic, neither is it a law. It is not dead—it is life itself, it is a living thing, and it is the rule that a created being must follow in life and the rule a human must have in life. This is something that you must, as much as possible, understand through experience. No matter what stage you have arrived at in your experience, you are inseparable from God’s word or the truth, and what you understand of God’s disposition and what you know of what God has and is are all expressed in God’s words; they are inextricably linked with the truth. God’s disposition and what He has and is are, in themselves, the truth; the truth is an authentic manifestation of God’s disposition and what He has and is. It makes what He has and is concrete, and it makes a clear statement of what He has and is; it tells you more straightforwardly what God likes, what He does not like, what He wants you to do and what He does not permit you to do, which people He despises and which people He delights in. Behind the truths that God expresses, people can see His pleasure, anger, sorrow, and happiness, as well as His essence—this is the revealing of His disposition. Aside from knowing what God has and is, and understanding His disposition from His word, what is most important is the need to reach this understanding through practical experience. If a person removes themselves from real life in order to know God, they will not be able to achieve that. Even if there are people who can gain some understanding from the word of God, their understanding is limited to theories and words, and there arises a disparity with what God Himself is really like.
What we are communicating about now is all within the scope of the stories recorded in the Bible. Through these stories, and through analyzing these things that happened, people can understand His disposition and what He has and is that He has expressed, allowing them to know every aspect of God more broadly, more deeply, more comprehensively, and more thoroughly. So, is the only way to know every aspect of God through these stories? No, it is not the only way! For what God says and the work He does in the Age of Kingdom can better help people know His disposition, and know it more fully. However, I think it is a bit easier to know God’s disposition and to understand what He has and is through some examples or stories recorded in the Bible that people are familiar with. If I take the words of judgment and chastisement and the truths that God expresses today, word for word, to enable you to know Him in this way, you will feel it is too dull and too tedious, and some people will even feel that God’s words seem to be formulaic. But if I take these Bible stories as examples to help people know God’s disposition, they will not find it boring. You could say that in the course of explaining these examples, the details of what was in God’s heart at the time—His mood or sentiment, or His thoughts and ideas—have been told to people in human language, and the goal of all this is to allow them to appreciate, to feel that what God has and is is not formulaic. It is not a legend, or something that people cannot see or touch. It is something that truly exists, that people can feel and appreciate. This is the ultimate goal. You could say that people living in this age are blessed. They can draw on Bible stories to gain a broader understanding of God’s previous work; they can see His disposition through the work that He has done; they can understand God’s will for mankind through these dispositions that He has expressed, and understand the concrete manifestations of His holiness and His care for humans, and in this way they can reach a more detailed and deeper knowledge of God’s disposition. I believe that all of you can now feel this!
Within the scope of the work that the Lord Jesus completed in the Age of Grace, you can see another aspect of what God has and is. This aspect was expressed through His flesh, and people were able to see and appreciate it because of His humanity. In the Son of man, people saw how God in the flesh lived out His humanity, and they saw God’s divinity expressed through the flesh. These two types of expression allowed people to see a very real God, and they allowed people to form a different concept of God. However, during the period of time between the creation of the world and the end of the Age of Law, that is, before the Age of Grace, the only aspects of God that were seen, heard, and experienced by the people were God’s divinity, the things that God did and said in a non-material realm, and the things that He expressed from His real person that could not be seen or touched. Often, these things made people feel that God was so towering in His greatness that they could not get close to Him. The impression God usually gave people was that He flickered in and out of their ability to perceive Him, and people even felt that every single one of His thoughts and ideas was so mysterious and so elusive that there was no way to reach them, much less even attempt to understand and appreciate them. For people, everything about God was very distant, so distant that people could not see it, could not touch it. He seemed to be high up in the sky, and seemed not to exist at all. So for people, understanding God’s heart and mind or any of His thinking was unachievable, and even beyond their reach. Even though God performed some concrete work in the Age of Law, and He also issued some specific words and expressed some specific dispositions to allow people to appreciate and to perceive some real knowledge about Him, yet in the end, these expressions of what God has and is came from a non-material realm, and what people understood, what they knew was still about the divine aspect of what He has and is. Mankind could not gain a concrete concept from this expression of what He has and is, and their impression of God was still stuck within the scope of “a Spiritual body that is hard to get close to, that flickers in and out of perception.” Because God did not use a specific object or an image belonging to the material realm to appear before people, they remained unable to define Him using human language. In people’s hearts and minds, they always wanted to use their own language to establish a standard for God, to make Him tangible and to humanize Him, such as how tall He is, how big He is, what He looks like, what exactly He likes and what His personality is. Actually, in His heart God knew that people were thinking this way. He was very clear on people’s needs, and of course He also knew what He should do, so He carried out His work in a different way in the Age of Grace. This new way was both divine and humanized. In the period of time that the Lord Jesus was working, people could see that God had many human expressions. For example, He could dance, He could attend weddings, He could commune with people, speak with them, and discuss things with them. In addition to that, the Lord Jesus also completed a lot of work that represented His divinity, and of course all of this work was an expression and a revelation of God’s disposition. During this time, when God’s divinity was realized in ordinary flesh in a way that people could see and touch, they no longer felt that He was flickering in and out of perception or that they could not get close to Him. On the contrary, they could try to grasp the will of God or understand His divinity through every movement, through the words, and through the work of the Son of man. The incarnate Son of man expressed God’s divinity through His humanity and conveyed the will of God to mankind. And through His expression of God’s will and disposition, He also revealed to people the God that cannot be seen or touched who dwells in the spiritual realm. What people saw was God Himself in tangible form, made of flesh and blood. So the incarnate Son of man made things such as the identity of God Himself, God’s status, image, disposition, and what He has and is, concrete and humanized. Even though the external appearance of the Son of man had some limitations regarding the image of God, His essence and what He has and is were entirely able to represent the identity and status of God Himself—there were merely some differences in the form of expression. We cannot deny that the Son of man represented the identity and status of God Himself, both in the form of His humanity and in His divinity. During this time, however, God worked through the flesh, spoke from the perspective of the flesh, and stood before mankind with the identity and status of the Son of man, and this gave people the opportunity to encounter and experience the true words and work of God among mankind. It also allowed people insight into His divinity and His greatness in the midst of humility, as well as to gain a preliminary understanding and definition of the authenticity and reality of God. Even though the work completed by the Lord Jesus, His ways of working, and the perspective from which He spoke differed from God’s real person in the spiritual realm, everything about Him truly represented God Himself, whom mankind had never seen before—this cannot be denied! That is to say, no matter in what form God appears, no matter from which perspective He speaks, or in what image He faces mankind, God represents nothing but Himself. He can represent neither any one human, nor any of corrupted mankind. God is God Himself, and this cannot be denied.
Excerpted from The Word, Vol. 2. On Knowing God. God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III
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