Brief Notes

God Gives
the Growth (7):
The Example of
Christ Himself

9 April 2024

Christ showed us
by His own life that, to be
truly pleasing to the Father
and do His will, we must
wait for His time and
His way

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.
— 1 Corinthians 3:6

Just as Ruth had to prepare herself and present herself to Boaz, but then wait for Boaz to arise, we also, on the one hand, must take care of our responsibility to seek the Lord, but on the other, still wait for Him until He rises up to fulfill His purpose, whether in our own life or for the sake of His testimony. (See “God Gives the Growth” • 5: Waiting for Boaz.) And quite often, He may wait for a time that is far beyond anything we might expect.

The Lord Himself is, as always, the best example of this.

When He came to the earth, He might have done so much on God’s behalf; instead, He lived most of His life as a simple, unknown carpenter. And even after He came forth to serve, His life on earth did not end with a great success, but with His death on the cross. All this was because His focus was not on doing a great work, but on pleasing the Father (John 8:29) and doing His will (John 5:30), for the Father’s glory. He did not seek to do His own will for the sake of glorifying Himself (John 7:18).

Even the apostles could not understand why the Lord would take such a way. After the Lord told them of His coming death and resurrection, Peter would not agree:

Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, God be merciful to You, Lord! This will not happen to You!

So, the Lord had to rebuke him in the strongest way:

But He turned and said to Peter, Get yourself behind Me, Satan! You are an offense unto Me, for you are not minding the things of God, but the things of men.
— Matthew 16:21-23

Eventually, the Lord did indeed end His life as nothing more than a little seed that was sown into the ground to die. As He Himself said,

Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.
— John 12:24

Many who were there at the time, and at one point even Jesus Himself, felt the Father had left Him completely alone (Matt. 27:39-46), for He did not save Him from such a fate.

The result was that, compared to what He might have done, the man Jesus appeared to accomplish very little, with only a few followers after His death to show for all He had done. But of course, the actual result of His work, through His death and resurrection, was far beyond anything the apostles, or we ourselves, could ever have imagined.

Throughout the history of the church, this path of waiting for the Lord, by taking the way of death and resurrection, is how the Lord’s true followers have always served Him (cf. John 12:26). And it is the only way to produce a genuine harvest for the Lord.

Watchman Nee (1900-1972) had a very profound experience along these lines. He wrote, in one of his hymns,

When we see the ripened harvest
Of the golden countryside,
We may know that many seeds have
Fallen to the earth and died.
Ere the fruit of life may blossom,
We must surely suffer death;
If with Christ we’ve not been buried,
We’ll not feel the Spirit’s breath.
— Verse 5 of
“Through the Cross, O Lord, I Pray”

In the next Note in this series we will consider some examples of this, and their result, from fairly recent church history.

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— 9 April 2024 —