The Crucified Christ, by Witness Lee

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First, we need to spend time specifically to pray that the saints would have more of a heart for the Lord. This means that we have to pray to the Lord that the saints would have a heart that is sufficiently inclined toward the Lord and that every one of them would love the Lord. We should not only pray that they would be saved and participate in the church life but that they would also be touched by the Lord and have a heart for Him—not just any heart but a heart sufficiently inclined toward Him. The first issue concerning man is his heart. Today educators regard man as an animal of thought, but there is a part in man—his heart—which is more subjective and which better represents him than his mind.

For three and a half years our Lord Jesus was on the earth with the disciples every day, leading and teaching them. The most important matter that the Lord focused on was the matter of touching their hearts. Although we cannot find such a word in the Gospels, we can draw the conclusion that the Lord was touching their hearts. The Lord touched James’s heart, Peter’s heart, and Andrew’s heart; He touched the hearts of all twelve disciples. What the Lord paid attention to in those three and a half years was their hearts. Why was this? This was because if they had not inclined their hearts toward God and had not fixed their hearts on the Lord, they would have had no future in spiritual matters, and the Lord would not have been able to do anything.

The Lord became flesh that He might work through the disciples, but if the disciples had not had a heart for the Lord, how could the Lord have done anything? Suppose James, Peter, John, and Andrew had no heart for the Lord and had simply gone fishing. Suppose they had been saved and blessed yet had no heart for the Lord’s work. How could the Lord have worked through them? If the Lord had been unable to bring the disciples to the upper room in Jerusalem, the day of Pentecost could have come and the Holy Spirit could have been outpoured, but there would have been no vessel on the earth to receive the leading of the Holy Spirit. However, on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended, there were a hundred and twenty people whose hearts were ready and were for the Lord. Hence, when the Holy Spirit descended, He was able to find one hundred and twenty people on the earth whose hearts were for the Lord and were sufficiently inclined toward the Lord.

When the Lord appeared to the disciples in the Gospels, He appeared as the lovely One. We see in the Gospels that the Lord manifested His power, but we also see that the Lord showed His loveliness. One woman anointed Him with precious ointment and kissed His feet (Luke 7:37-38). This shows us how lovely the Lord was and how sweet and precious He was among His disciples. He did not compel the disciples; rather, He drew them with His grace, His love, His sweetness, and His glory. Which part of the disciples did He draw? He drew their hearts. The Lord touched the disciples’ hearts with His loveliness.

The Lord touched people’s hearts with His loveliness to the extent that they did not care for anything. Two of the sisters—Mary the Magdalene and Mary of Bethany—forsook everything to love the Lord. Why? It was because the Lord was lovely and precious to them. Thus, they forsook everything to love and seek the Lord absolutely. However, after the Lord’s death the brothers, such as Peter, were still weak, even though they knew that the Lord had resurrected. Peter took the lead to go fishing, and the rest of the disciples went with him. That night they caught nothing. As soon as the morning broke, the Lord appeared in their midst. Did the Lord rebuke them? No. The Lord came to them, was gentle before them, and cared for them. The Lord asked them on the shore, “You do not have any fish to eat, do you?” How lovely the Lord was, and how caring He was toward them! After Peter heard that voice, he disregarded everything, forsaking the boat and the fish, and threw himself into the sea. At that time did the Lord rebuke him? No. The Lord did not rebuke him; rather, He asked Peter gently and sympathetically, “Do you love Me more than these?” What the Lord meant was, “Do you love Me more than the sea? Do you love Me more than the world? Do you love Me more than your boat? Do you love Me more than your occupation? Do you love Me more than your fishing skill? Do you love Me more than your capability? Do you love Me more than your companions? Do you love Me more than the one hundred and fifty-three fish? Do you love Me more than these?”

Instead of rebuking and blaming Peter, the Lord simply asked him, “Do you love Me more than these?” How did Peter reply? Peter answered, “Lord, You know that I love You.” Then the Lord asked him again, “Simon, do you love Me?” Peter did not know how to answer, so he simply told the Lord, “You know that I love You.” The Lord did not ask him this only once or twice but asked him three times. This is recorded in John 21. The sole emphasis and purpose of the Lord’s work in those three and a half years was to touch the disciples’ hearts and lead them to love Him.

(The Crucified Christ, Chapter 7, by Witness Lee)