God’s Work, God’s Disposition, and God Himself III (Part Eight)
13. Jesus Eats Bread and Explains the Scriptures After His Resurrection
(Luke 24:30–32) And it came to pass, as he sat at meat with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and broke, and gave to them. And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight. And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
14. The Disciples Give Jesus Broiled Fish to Eat
(Luke 24:36–43) And as they thus spoke, Jesus himself stood in the middle of them, and said to them, Peace be to you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said to them, Why are you troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit has not flesh and bones, as you see me have. And when he had thus spoken, he showed them his hands and his feet. And while they yet believed not for joy, and wondered, he said to them, Have you here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.
Next we’ll take a look at the passages of scripture above. The first passage is a recounting of the Lord Jesus eating bread and explaining the scriptures after His resurrection, and the second passage is a recounting of the Lord Jesus eating broiled fish. What kind of help do these two passages provide for knowing God’s disposition? Can you imagine the kind of picture you get from these descriptions of the Lord Jesus eating bread and then broiled fish? Can you imagine, if the Lord Jesus were standing in front of you eating bread, how you might feel? Or if He were eating with you at the same table, eating fish and bread with people, what kind of feeling you would have at the time? If you feel you would be very close to the Lord, that He is very intimate with people, then this feeling is right. This is exactly the fruit that the Lord Jesus wanted to bear from eating bread and fish in front of the multitude after His resurrection. If the Lord Jesus had only spoken with people after His resurrection, if they could not feel His flesh and bones, but felt He was an unreachable Spirit, how would they feel? Wouldn’t they be disappointed? When people were disappointed, wouldn’t they feel abandoned? Wouldn’t they feel a distance with the Lord Jesus Christ? What kind of negative impact would this distance create on people’s relationship with God? People would certainly feel afraid, that they didn’t dare come close to Him, and then they would have an attitude of keeping Him at a respectful distance. From then on, they would sever their intimate relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and return to a relationship between mankind and God up in heaven, as it was before the Age of Grace. The spiritual body that people could not touch or feel would lead to the eradication of their intimacy with God, and it would also make that intimate relationship—established during the Lord Jesus Christ’s time in the flesh, with no distance between Him and humans—cease to exist. People’s feelings toward the spiritual body are only fear, avoidance, and a wordless gaze. They do not dare to get close or to have a dialogue with Him, let alone follow, trust, or have hope in Him. God was reluctant to see this type of feeling that humans had for Him. He did not want to see people avoiding Him or removing themselves from Him; He only wanted people to understand Him, come close to Him, and be His family. If your own family, your children saw you but did not recognize you, and did not dare to come close to you but always avoided you, if you could not gain their understanding for everything you had done for them, how would that make you feel? Wouldn’t it be painful? Wouldn’t you be heartbroken? That is precisely what God feels when people avoid Him. So, after His resurrection, the Lord Jesus still appeared to people in His form of flesh and blood, and ate and drank with them. God sees people as family and He also wants mankind to see Him that way; only in this way can God truly obtain people, and can people truly love and worship God. Now can you understand My intention in extracting these two passages of scripture where the Lord Jesus eats bread and explains the scriptures, and the disciples give Him broiled fish to eat after His resurrection?
It can be said that the series of things that the Lord Jesus said and did after His resurrection were thoughtful, and done with kind intentions. They were full of the kindness and affection that God holds toward humanity, and full of the appreciation and meticulous care He had for the intimate relationship He had established with mankind during His time in the flesh. Even more, they were full of the nostalgia and the hope He had for the life of eating and living with His followers during His time in the flesh. So, God did not want people to feel a distance between God and man, nor did He want mankind to distance themselves from God. Even more, He didn’t want mankind to feel that the Lord Jesus after His resurrection was no longer the Lord who was so intimate with people, that He was no longer together with mankind because He returned to the spiritual world, returned to the Father who people could never see or reach. He didn’t want people to feel that there was any difference in position between Him and mankind. When God sees people who want to follow Him but keep Him at a respectful distance, His heart is in pain because that means their hearts are very far from Him, it means that it will be very difficult for Him to gain their hearts. So if He had appeared to people in a spiritual body that they could not see or touch, this would have once again distanced man from God, and it would have led mankind to mistakenly see Christ after His resurrection as having become lofty, of a different kind than humans, and someone who could no longer share a table and eat with man because humans are sinful, filthy, and can never get close to God. In order to remove these misunderstandings of mankind, the Lord Jesus did a number of things He frequently did in the flesh, as recorded in the Bible, “he took bread, and blessed it, and broke, and gave to them.” He also explained the scriptures to them, as He used to do. All of this that the Lord Jesus did made every person who saw Him feel that the Lord had not changed, that He was still the same Lord Jesus. Even though He had been nailed to the cross and had experienced death, He had been resurrected, and had not left mankind. He had returned to be among humans, and His everything had not changed. The Son of man standing in front of people was still the same Lord Jesus. His demeanor and His conversation with people felt so familiar. He was still so full of lovingkindness, grace, and tolerance—He was still that Lord Jesus who loved others as He loved Himself, who could forgive mankind seventy times seven. As always, He ate with people, discussed the scriptures with them, and even more importantly, just the same as before, He was made of flesh and blood and could be touched and seen. The Son of man in this way allowed people to feel that intimacy, to feel at ease, and to feel the joy of regaining something that has been lost, and they also felt at ease enough to bravely and confidently begin to rely on and look up to this Son of man who could forgive mankind of their sins. They also began to pray to the name of the Lord Jesus without hesitations, to pray to obtain His grace, His blessing, and to obtain peace and joy from Him, to gain care and protection from Him, and began to perform healings and cast out demons in the name of the Lord Jesus.
During the time that the Lord Jesus worked in the flesh, most of His followers could not fully verify His identity and the things that He said. When He went up on the cross, the attitude of His followers was one of expectancy; when He was nailed to the cross all the way until He was put into the grave, people’s attitude toward Him was disappointment. During this time, people had already begun to move in their hearts from doubting to denial of the things the Lord Jesus had said during His time in the flesh. And when He walked out from the grave, and appeared to the people one by one, the majority of people who had seen Him with their own eyes or heard the news of His resurrection gradually shifted from denial to skepticism. By the time the Lord Jesus had Thomas put his hand into His side, by the time the Lord Jesus broke bread and ate it in front of the crowd after His resurrection, and after that ate broiled fish in front of them, only then did they truly accept the fact that the Lord Jesus is Christ in the flesh. You could say that it was as if this spiritual body with flesh and blood standing in front of those people then was awakening every one of them from a dream: The Son of man standing in front of them was the One who had existed since time immemorial. He had a form, and flesh and bones, and He had already lived and eaten with mankind for a long time…. At this time, the people felt that His existence was so real, so wonderful; they were also so joyful and happy, and at the same time filled with emotion. And His reappearance allowed people to truly see His humility, to feel His closeness, and His longing, His attachment for mankind. This brief reunion made the people who saw the Lord Jesus feel as if a lifetime had passed. Their lost, confused, afraid, anxious, yearning and numb hearts found comfort. They were no longer doubtful or disappointed because they felt that now there was hope and something to rely on. The Son of man standing in front of them would be behind them for eternity, He would be their strong tower, their refuge for all time.
Although the Lord Jesus was resurrected, His heart and His work had not left mankind. He told people with His appearance that no matter what form He existed in, He would accompany people, walk with them, and be with them at all times and in all places. And at all times and all places, He would provide to mankind and shepherd them, allow them to see and touch Him, and make sure they never again feel helpless. The Lord Jesus also wanted people to know this: Their lives in this world are not alone. Mankind has God’s care, God is with them; people can always lean on God; He is the family of every one of His followers. With God to lean on, mankind will no longer be lonely or helpless, and those who accept Him as their sin offering will no longer be bound in sin. In human eyes, these portions of His work that the Lord Jesus carried out after His resurrection were very small things, but the way I see it, every single thing was so meaningful, so valuable, and they were all so important and weighty.
Although the Lord Jesus’ time of working in the flesh was full of hardships and suffering, through His appearance in His spiritual body of flesh and blood, He completely and perfectly accomplished His work of that time in the flesh to redeem mankind. He began His ministry by becoming flesh, and He concluded His ministry by appearing to mankind in His fleshly form. He heralded the Age of Grace, He began the Age of Grace through His identity as Christ. Through His identity as Christ, He carried out the work in the Age of Grace and He strengthened and led all of His followers in the Age of Grace. It can be said of God’s work that He truly finishes what He starts. There are steps and a plan, and it is full of God’s wisdom, His omnipotence, and His marvelous deeds. It is also full of God’s love and mercy. Of course, the main thread running through all of God’s work is His care for mankind; it is permeated with His feelings of concern that He can never put aside. In these verses of the Bible, in every single thing that the Lord Jesus did after His resurrection, what was revealed was God’s unchanging hopes and concern for mankind, as well as God’s meticulous care and cherishing of humans. Until now, none of this has changed—can you see it? When you see this, doesn’t your heart just automatically become close to God? If you lived in that age and the Lord Jesus appeared to you after His resurrection, in a tangible form for you to see, and if He sat in front of you, ate bread and fish and explained the scriptures to you, spoke with you, then how would you feel? Would you feel happy? How about guilty? The previous misunderstandings and avoidance of God, the conflicts with and doubts of God—wouldn’t they all just disappear? Wouldn’t the relationship between God and man become more proper?
Through interpretation of these limited chapters of the Bible, did you discover any flaws in God’s disposition? Did you discover any adulteration of God’s love? Did you see any craftiness or evil in God’s omnipotence or wisdom? Certainly not! Now can you say with certainty that God is holy? Can you say with certainty that God’s emotions are all a revealing of His essence and disposition? I hope that after you have read these words, what you’ve understood from it will help you and bring you benefits in your pursuit of a change in disposition and a fear of God. I also hope that these words will bear fruit for you that grows by the day, thus in the process of this pursuit bringing you closer and closer to God, bringing you closer and closer to the standard that God requires, so that you are no longer bored of the pursuit of the truth and you no longer feel that the pursuit of the truth and of a change in disposition is a troublesome or a superfluous thing. It is, rather, the expression of God’s true disposition and the holy essence of God that motivate you to long for the light, to long for justice, and to aspire to pursue the truth, to pursue the satisfaction of God’s will, and to become a man gained by God, to become a real person.
Today we’ve talked about some things that God did in the Age of Grace when He was incarnated for the first time. From these things, we’ve seen the disposition that He expressed and revealed in the flesh, as well as every aspect of what He has and is. All these aspects of what He has and is seem very humanized, but the reality is that in essence, all that He revealed and expressed is inseparable from His own disposition. Every method and every aspect of God incarnate expressing His disposition in humanity is inextricably linked with His own essence. So, it is very important that God came unto mankind in the way of incarnation and the work that He did in the flesh is also very important. And, the disposition that He revealed and the will that He expressed are even more important to every person living in the flesh, to every person living in corruption. Is this something that you’re able to understand? After understanding God’s disposition and what He has and is, have you made any conclusions as to how you should treat God? In response to this question, in conclusion I’d like to give you three admonishments: First, do not test God. No matter how much you understand about God, no matter how much you know about His disposition, absolutely do not test Him. Second, do not contend for status with God. No matter what type of status God gives you or what kind of work He entrusts you with, no matter what kind of duty He raises you up to perform, and no matter how much you have spent and sacrificed for God, absolutely do not compete for status with Him. Third, do not compete with God. No matter whether you understand or if you can obey what God does with you, what He arranges for you, and the things He brings to you, absolutely do not compete with God. If you can carry out these three admonishments, then you will be relatively safe, and you will not anger God easily. That’s all to share for today!
July 23, 2014