By Li Qian
I am a pastor and I’ve worked and preached for the Lord for many years. Each time I opened up the Bible, I saw the words written in Matthew 13:53–57 which say: “When Jesus had finished these parables, He departed there. And when He was come into His own country, He taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, From where has this man this wisdom, and these mighty works? Is not this the carpenter’s son? is not His mother called Mary? and His brothers, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas? And His sisters, are they not all with us? From where then has this man all these things? And they were offended in Him.” And also John 19:6–7 which say: “When the chief priests therefore and officers saw Him, they cried out, saying, Crucify Him, crucify Him. Pilate said to them, Take you Him, and crucify Him: for I find no fault in Him. The Jews answered him, We have a law, and by our law He ought to die, because He made Himself the Son of God.” Each time I read these words, I couldn’t help but think: “When the Lord Jesus was performing His work, many people denied His identity and essence because He appeared normal and ordinary, and they treated Him as an ordinary man. The Jewish chief priests, scribes and Pharisees in particular knew perfectly well that the miracles performed and the way preached by the Lord came from God, but not only did they not seek or investigate this way with a God-fearing heart, on the contrary, they relied on their conceptions and imaginings to judge the Lord Jesus as being nothing more than a carpenter’s son, and they blasphemed against the Lord, saying that He cast out demons by the prince of the devils. In the end, they colluded with the Roman authorities and crucified the Lord Jesus upon the cross. God is so supreme, so why would He deliberately choose such a normal, ordinary form to come amongst man and perform His work? If God had been born into a king’s family in a high and noble form and after the manner of a great man, then not just the Pharisees but all the people of Israel would have easily accepted the Lord Jesus’ gospel.” This issue perplexed me for a long time.
In order to clarify this issue, I prayed to the Lord many times, I consulted the Bible and I read many spiritual books, but I never found the answer. Later on, I met a Christian sister who was thoughtful and insightful, and when she talked about the Bible, she always had a unique understanding and light. Through seeking and fellowshiping with her, I finally came to understand that the Lord Jesus coming amongst man to perform His work in an ordinary form harbored a profound meaning. When the chief priests, scribes and Pharisees back then saw the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah, they relied on their notions and imaginings and believed that the Messiah would be born in a palace. What people did not expect was that the Lord Jesus had taken on the form of an ordinary man, He had been born in a manger, He grew up in a carpenter’s family in Bethlehem in the land of Judea, and He lived a normal life. When the Lord Jesus began to perform His work, He never said that He Himself was God, but instead He just led His disciples to work and preach everywhere they went and He preached the gospel of repentance. He used the language that people of that time could understand to provide for, enlighten and help those who followed Him. He ate with sinners, forgave prostitutes, lived with His disciples and washed their feet, and so on. The disciples who followed the Lord Jesus all wished to hear Him preach the gospel of heavenly kingdom, and in their interactions with the Lord, they were all able to perceive the Lord’s lovingkindness, His mercy and His affable, approachable manner, and they all cordially called Him “the loveable Savior Jesus.” The supreme and holy God personally incarnated into the form of an ordinary and normal man, He endured great humiliation to come amongst corrupt mankind in secret, and He performed the work to save mankind in silence and obscurity; God never considered Himself high and mighty or set Himself on high, and He never showed Himself off to make people worship Him. From this, we can see God’s humble and hidden essence, and we can perceive God’s real love and mercy for man. Just think: If things had really been as we imagined and the Lord Jesus had been born into a palace in a high and noble form, with a magnificent appearance and supernatural powers, the low-born Jewish faithful would have believed the Lord Jesus to be beyond their reach due to His high and noble form and His prominent status, and they wouldn’t have dared to draw close to Him. It was precisely because the Lord Jesus appeared so normal and ordinary, because He came amongst man humbly and in secret and because He used the natural language of humankind to speak and work and supply man’s needs that the Jewish faithful found it so easy to draw close to the Lord and attain His salvation. Just then, I perceived how great the Lord Jesus’ love for mankind was, and I realized that Him working amongst man in an ordinary form was done to better save man.
Afterward, the sister and I sought again in the Bible and we discovered that hidden within the Lord Jesus coming to work in an ordinary, normal form amongst mankind was the wisdom of God. God watches all the world and even more so He scrutinizes the innermost heart of man. God knew that, although there were many who believed in Him, only a small minority of them truly believed in Him and thirsted for the truth. God appeared in the form of an ordinary man in order to separate those who truly believed in Him and who thirsted for the truth from amongst the masses who believed in God. These people paid no attention to Jesus’ external appearance but were able to recognize Him as the Lord and recognize the voice of the Lord from His words and work. Those who did not truly believe in God, who did not thirst for the truth and who asked only for their fill of bread focused only on seeing the outward appearance of things, and when they saw the Lord Jesus in the ordinary, normal form of a man, they denied Him. These people were precisely the ones who were exposed and weeded out by the Lord Jesus’ work. The Lord Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27). As is recorded in the Bible, for example, the disciples Peter, John, Andrew, Nathaniel and so on and a few common people did not focus on the Lord Jesus’ outward appearance, but instead they focused on listening to the way He preached. Because they loved the truth and thirsted for the truth, they obtained the Holy Spirit’s enlightenment, they recognized God’s voice and they turned to the Lord. The Pharisees of that time, however, took no heed to seek the truth, but instead focused only on judging people and things by their outward appearance. When they saw the Lord Jesus appearing so ordinary and normal, without any power or influence, without any fame or prestige, and looking totally at odds with their own imaginings and notions, they judged the Lord and blasphemed Him, they did all they could to find fault with Him, and they frantically condemned and resisted the Lord. Just think: If God had been born into a king’s family as many people imagined He would, and He took a high and noble form, how would things have gone then? We can say for certain that the Jewish priests, scribes and Pharisees would not have resisted the Lord. Conversely, they would have followed the Lord Jesus, and so how then would their God-defying nature and essence have been revealed? Wouldn’t those hypocrites have sneaked their way into God’s house? At that moment, I finally saw that the more normal and ordinary the Lord Jesus’ form, the more people looked down on Him, and the more beneficial this was to exposing people. God really is so very wise!
Once I’d come to understand these things, my heart became clear. So the Lord Jesus Christ took an ordinary, normal form to perform His work for two reasons: One was to close the distance between ourselves and God, to make it easier for us to have contact with God, to know God and to attain His salvation, and thereby come to have some knowledge of His humble and hidden disposition. The other reason was that the Lord Jesus’ ordinary form exposed those who truly believed in God and who thirsted for the truth, as well as those who did not love the truth, who hated the truth, who always delimited God based on appearances, and who were filled with vague imaginings about God. From this, I saw that no matter how God performs His work and no matter what form He takes to appear amongst man, God’s will is behind it all. The more at odds with our notions and imaginings God’s work is, the more of God’s wisdom there is within it; we must not make absurd judgments, but can only seek and obey. Thank the Lord! By seeking this aspect of the truth, I couldn’t help but feel reverence for God in my heart. I thought of how all the prophecies concerning the Lord’s return had basically been fulfilled and that the Lord may indeed have returned already. I also thought about how I should approach the Lord’s return and decided that I must learn the lesson of the Pharisees and not approach the matter according to my own notions and imaginings. I decided that I must be like Peter and Nathaniel and focus on distinguishing the voice of God, for only then would I not commit the error of condemning God and resisting God.
Thanks be to the enlightenment and guidance of God! Amen!