V. DURING THE TRANSFIGURATION
On the mount of transfiguration, the Lord manifested to God and men the highest expression of Himself as a man. The Bible never says that we will be perfect in this life. The Bible only says that God will keep us in a blameless state in this life. It never says that we will be without mistake or without blemish. But our Lord was without blemish in this life. I have spoken once about the Lord on the mount of transfiguration. Many expositors agree that the Lord could have ascended to heaven from there; God would have to receive Him if He had. Mark 4:28-29 says, "The earth bears fruit by itself: first a blade, then an ear, then full grain in the ear. But when the fruit is ripe, immediately he sends forth the sickle, because the harvest has come." The Lord was ripe already, and God had to receive Him. While He was talking to Moses and Elijah, the conversation was concerning the matter of His death, that is, what was about to take place in Jerusalem. After He descended from the mount, His heart was set towards Jerusalem. His face was towards Jerusalem. He chose death. Here we see the Lord making another choice. The reason our Lord was able to choose not to ascend to heaven from the mount of transfiguration and choose the pathway to Jerusalem was that He had tasted of the heavenly butter and honey. The reason the Lord could decline ascending to the Father from the mount and the reason He could descend instead to the cross was that He had tasted of God’s grace and His love. Without God’s grace and His love, He could not have suffered this way. Some children suffer for their parents, but they do so unwillingly. Some parents suffer for their children, but they do so with murmuring. Some students submit to their teachers, but it is not a voluntary action. Only Christ, who had eaten the butter and the honey and tasted the richest and the sweetest, was able to choose the difficult things, that is, the good things, willingly.
VI. ENTERING JERUSALEM
Two events were most glorious in the Lord’s life: the mount of transfiguration and the entrance into Jerusalem. When He entered Jerusalem, many people welcomed Him with palm branches, shouting, "Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel!" This was what the Jews said. Moreover, He had many friends. Lazarus had just resurrected, and some were preparing a feast for Him. A few Gentile Greeks came to Philip and asked to see Him. They all wanted to see Jesus. Even the Lord’s enemies, the Pharisees, said among themselves, "You see that you are not doing anything worthwhile; behold, the world has gone after Him" (John 12:19). At this time, the Lord could have gained anything He wanted. But when Andrew went with Philip to see the Lord, what did He say? He said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (John 12:24). Here was another choice. He could have received His glory and become king at that time. But He only chose one way. What He said here deeply touches my heart. "Unless the grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit."
"Now is My soul troubled; and what shall I say?" (v. 27). This word shows that the Lord’s heart agreed with His mouth. "Father, save Me out of this hour. But for this reason I have come to this hour." The Lord could have asked the Father to save Him out of that hour, but He knew that for this reason He had come to that hour. The Lord was again rejecting the evil and choosing the good. Formerly, when we read this portion, we did not know how He could have made such a choice. But the Bible tells us that it is because He had tasted butter and honey. He had tasted the riches of grace and the sweetness of love. This is why He could choose the good and reject the evil.
VII. IN GETHSEMANE
Finally, in the garden of Gethsemane, the Lord made the greatest choice! There He could have said, "I will not die." He did say, "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me" (v. 39). But immediately following, He said, "Yet not as I will, but as You will." Although He saw the bitterness of the cup, He dared not choose His own will. He was not afraid to die, but He was fearful of the burden of sin. He was not afraid of the cup, but His holy nature was fearful of bearing sin. Before He put the cup and God’s will together, He was still able to say, "If it is possible, let this cup pass from Me." But immediately following, He said, "Yet not as I will, but as You will." Hence, in the garden of Gethsemane, we see that He single-heartedly chose God’s will and single-heartedly rejected everything that was not God’s will. Finally, what did He say to Peter? He said, "The cup which the Father has given Me, shall I not drink it?" (John 18:11). I can tell you that without Gethsemane, there would have been no cross. Without the obedience of Gethsemane, there would not have been the death on the cross. Obedience came before the cross. Our Lord humbled Himself, becoming obedient even unto death, and died the death of a cross (Phil. 2:8). Many people have not taken care of the consecration at Gethsemane properly. This is why they run away when they face the cross. They do not have the power behind them. Our Lord had the butter and the honey. This is why He was able to choose the good and reject the evil.
Brothers and sisters, obedience requires power! If God has not first satisfied your heart, you will never succeed no matter how hard you outwardly try. We have to learn to contact God daily and receive the heavenly butter and honey, so that we can choose the good and reject the evil on earth. I say this to you because I have a deep feeling that the Lord is coming soon, and the kingdom is before us. From now on, temptations will increase, dangers will increase, and seductions will increase. Formerly we rejected the sins. Now we have to reject the joys. Formerly we suffered God’s stripping. Now we have to willingly obey. Formerly we bore the yoke grudgingly. Now we choose the cross willingly. More and more we are seeing that, unless we know to choose the good and reject the evil, all kinds of things will come upon us. Satan will grant us more favor. The world will become kinder to us and give us many things. The circumstances will turn more to our way, and unless we reject them in a definite way, we will not be able to overcome them. How can we overcome the world? If the Lord had not chosen death Himself, it would be possible for us to not die and love our life. But let us pay attention to one thing: we have the ability to choose what is placed before us because we have the heavenly butter and honey. We have to receive daily the butter and honey from heaven, so that we will know what to choose and what to reject. We should not allow our circumstances to make the choices for us.
(Collected Works of Watchman Nee, The (Set 1) Vol. 17: Notes on Scriptural Messages (1), Chapter 12, by Watchman Nee)