What will of God is concealed within the Lord Jesus’ refusal to observe the Sabbath? And what inspiration does it bring to us today?
The Essence of the Flesh Inhabited by God
The first incarnate God lived upon the earth for thirty-three and a half years, yet He performed His ministry for only three and a half of those years. Both during the time He worked, and before He began His work, He was possessed of normal humanity. He inhabited His normal humanity for thirty-three and a half years. Throughout the last three and a half years He revealed Himself to be the incarnate God. Before He began performing His ministry, He appeared with ordinary, normal humanity, showing no sign of His divinity, and it was only after He began formally performing His ministry that His divinity was made manifest. His life and work during those first twenty-nine years all demonstrated that He was a genuine human being, a son of man, a flesh; for His ministry only began in earnest after the age of twenty-nine. The meaning of incarnation is that God appears in the flesh, and He comes to work among man of His creation in the image of a flesh. So, for God to be incarnated, He must first be flesh, flesh with normal humanity; this, at the very least, must be true. In fact, the implication of God’s incarnation is that God lives and works in the flesh, God in His very essence becomes flesh, becomes a man. His incarnate life and work can be divided into two stages. First is the life He lives before performing His ministry. He lives in an ordinary human family, in utterly normal humanity, obeying the normal morals and laws of human life, with normal human needs (food, clothing, shelter, sleep), normal human weaknesses, and normal human emotions. In other words, during this first stage He lives in non-divine, completely normal humanity, engaging in all the normal human activities. The second stage is the life He lives after beginning to perform His ministry. He still dwells in the ordinary humanity with a normal human shell, showing no outward sign of the supernatural. Yet He lives purely for the sake of His ministry, and during this time His normal humanity exists entirely in service of the normal work of His divinity; for by then His normal humanity has matured to the point of being able to perform His ministry. So the second stage of His life is to perform His ministry in His normal humanity, is a life both of normal humanity and of complete divinity. The reason that, during the first stage of His life, He lives in completely ordinary humanity is that His humanity is not yet equal to the entirety of the divine work, is not yet mature; only after His humanity grows mature, becomes capable of shouldering His ministry, can He set about performing His ministry. Since He, as flesh, needs to grow and mature, the first stage of His life is that of normal humanity, while in the second stage, because His humanity is capable of undertaking His work and performing His ministry, the life the incarnate God lives during His ministry is one of both humanity and complete divinity. If from the moment of His birth the incarnate God began His ministry in earnest, performing supernatural signs and wonders, then He would have no corporeal essence. Therefore, His humanity exists for the sake of His corporeal essence; there can be no flesh without humanity, and a person without humanity is not a human being. In this way, the humanity of God’s flesh is an intrinsic property of God’s incarnate flesh. To say that “when God becomes flesh He is entirely divine, is not at all human,” is a blasphemy, because this is an impossible stance to take, one that violates the principle of incarnation. Even after He begins to perform His ministry, His divinity still inhabits the human outer shell when He does His work; it is just that at the time, His humanity serves the sole purpose of allowing His divinity to perform the work in the normal flesh. So the agent of the work is the divinity inhabiting His humanity. It is His divinity, not His humanity, at work, yet it is a divinity hidden within His humanity; His work is in essence done by His complete divinity, not by His humanity. But the performer of the work is His flesh. One could say that He is a man and also is God, for God becomes a God living in the flesh, with a human shell and a human essence but also the essence of God. Because He is a man with the essence of God, He is above any of created humans, above any man who can perform God’s work. And so, among all those with a human shell like His, among all those who possess humanity, only He is the incarnate God Himself—all others are created humans. Though they all have humanity, created humans are nothing but human, while is different: In His flesh He not only has humanity but more importantly has divinity. His humanity can be seen in the outer appearance of His flesh and in His everyday life, but His divinity is difficult to perceive. Because His divinity is expressed only when He has humanity, and is not as supernatural as people imagine it to be, it is extremely difficult for people to see. Even today it is most difficult for people to fathom the true essence of the incarnate God. In fact, even after I have spoken about it at such length, I expect it is still a mystery to most of you. This issue is very simple: Since God becomes flesh, His essence is a combination of humanity and divinity. This combination is called God Himself, God Himself on earth.
The life that lived on earth was a normal life of the flesh. He lived in the normal humanity of His flesh. His authority—to do God’s work and speak , or to heal the sick and cast out demons, to do such extraordinary things—did not manifest itself, for the most part, until He began His ministry. His life before age twenty-nine, before He performed His ministry, was proof enough that He was just a normal flesh. Because of this, and because He had not yet begun to perform His ministry, people saw nothing divine in Him, saw nothing more than a normal human being, an ordinary man—as when at first some people believed Him to be Joseph’s son. People thought that He was the son of an ordinary man, had no way of telling that He was God’s incarnate flesh; even when, in the course of performing His ministry, He worked many miracles, most people still said that He was Joseph’s son, for He was the Christ with the outer shell of normal humanity. His normal humanity and His work both existed in order to fulfill the significance of the first incarnation, proving that God had entirely come into the flesh, become an utterly ordinary man. That He had normal humanity before He began His work was proof that He was an ordinary flesh; and that He worked afterward also proved that He was an ordinary flesh, for He performed signs and wonders, healed the sick and cast out demons in the flesh with normal humanity. The reason that He could work miracles was that His flesh bore the authority of God, was the flesh in which God’s Spirit was clothed. He possessed this authority because of the Spirit of God, and it did not mean that He was not a flesh. Healing the sick and casting out demons was the work that He needed to perform in His ministry, an expression of His divinity hidden in His humanity, and no matter what signs He showed or how He demonstrated His authority, He still lived in normal humanity and was still a normal flesh. Up to the point that He was resurrected after dying upon the cross, He dwelt within a normal flesh. Bestowing grace, healing the sick, and casting out demons were all part of His ministry, were all work He performed in His normal flesh. Before He went to the cross, He never departed from His normal human flesh, regardless of what He was doing. He was God Himself, doing God’s own work, yet because He was the incarnate flesh of God, He ate food and wore clothing, had normal human needs, had normal human reason and a normal human mind. All of this was proof that He was a normal man, which proved that God’s incarnate flesh was a flesh with normal humanity, not a supernatural one. His job was to complete the work of God’s first incarnation, to fulfill the ministry of the first incarnation. The significance of incarnation is that an ordinary, normal man performs the work of God Himself; that is, that God performs His divine work in humanity and thereby vanquishes Satan. means that God’s Spirit becomes a flesh, that is, God becomes flesh; the work that He does in the flesh is the work of the Spirit, which is realized in the flesh, expressed by the flesh. No one except God’s flesh can fulfill the ministry of the incarnate God; that is, only God’s incarnate flesh, this normal humanity—and no one else—can express the divine work. If, during His first coming, God had not had the normal humanity before the age of twenty-nine—if as soon as He was born He could work miracles, if as soon as He learned to speak He could speak the language of heaven, if the moment He first set foot upon the earth He could apprehend all worldly matters, discern every person’s thoughts and intentions—then He could not have been called a normal man, and His flesh could not have been called human flesh. If this had been the case with Christ, then the meaning and the essence of God’s incarnation would have been lost. That He possessed normal humanity proves that He was God incarnated in the flesh; the fact that He underwent a normal human growth process further demonstrates that He was a normal flesh; and moreover, His work is sufficient proof that He was God’s Word, God’s Spirit, becoming flesh. God becomes flesh because of the needs of the work; in other words, this stage of work needs to be done in the flesh, done in normal humanity. This is the prerequisite for “the Word becoming flesh,” for “the Word appearing in the flesh,” and is the true story behind God’s two incarnations. People may believe that Jesus’ entire life was accompanied by wonders, that up until the end of His work on earth He did not manifest normal humanity, that He did not have normal human needs or weaknesses or human emotions, did not require the basic necessities of life or entertain normal human thoughts. They simply imagine Him to have a superhuman mind, a transcendent humanity. They believe that since He is God, He should not think and live as normal humans do, that only a normal person, a bona fide human being, can think normal human thoughts and live a normal human life. These are all man’s ideas, and man’s notions, which run counter to the original intentions of God’s work. Normal human thinking sustains normal human reason and normal humanity; normal humanity sustains the normal functions of the flesh; and the normal functions of the flesh enable the normal life of the flesh in its entirety. Only by working in such flesh can God fulfill the purpose of His incarnation. If the incarnate God possessed only the outer shell of the flesh, but did not think normal human thoughts, then this flesh would not possess human reason, much less bona fide humanity. How could a flesh like this, without humanity, fulfill the ministry that the incarnate God ought to perform? Normal mind sustains all aspects of human life; without a normal mind, one would not be human. In other words, a person who does not think normal thoughts is mentally ill. And a Christ who has no humanity but only divinity cannot be said to be God’s incarnate flesh. So, how could God’s incarnate flesh have no normal humanity? Is it not blasphemy to say that Christ has no humanity? All activities that normal humans engage in rely on the functioning of a normal human mind. Without it, humans would behave aberrantly; they would even be unable to tell the difference between black and white, good and evil; and they would have no human ethics and moral principles. Similarly, if the incarnate God did not think like a normal human, then He would not be a bona fide flesh, a normal flesh. Such non-thinking flesh would not be able to take on the divine work. He would not be able to engage in the normal activities of the flesh, much less live together with humans on earth. And so the significance of God’s incarnation, the very essence of God’s coming into the flesh, would have been lost. The humanity of God incarnate exists to maintain the normal divine work in the flesh; His normal human thinking sustains His normal humanity and all His normal corporeal activities. One could say that His normal human thinking exists in order to sustain all the work of God in the flesh. If this flesh did not possess a normal human mind, then God could not work in the flesh, and what He needs to do in the flesh could never be accomplished. Though the incarnate God possesses a normal human mind, His work is not adulterated by human thought; He undertakes the work in the humanity with a normal mind, under the precondition that He possesses the humanity with a mind, not by the exercise of normal human thought. No matter how lofty the thoughts of His flesh are, His work does not bear the stamp of logic or thinking. In other words, His work is not conceived by the mind of His flesh, but is a direct expression of the divine work in His humanity. All of His work is the ministry He needs to fulfill, and none of it is conceived by His brain. For example, healing the sick, casting out demons, and the crucifixion were not products of His human mind, could not have been achieved by any man with a human mind. Likewise, the conquering work of today is a ministry that must be performed by the incarnate God, but it is not the work of a human will, it is the work His divinity should do, work of which no fleshly human is capable. So the incarnate God must possess a normal human mind, must possess normal humanity, because He must perform His work in the humanity with a normal mind. This is the essence of the work of the incarnate God, the very essence of the incarnate God.