OUR NEED FOR CHRIST AS LIFE
In Genesis 1 we see man with God’s image and God’s dominion. Then in Genesis 2 there is the tree of life (v. 9). By reading through the Bible we know that the tree of life is a symbol of Christ. Christ is the tree of life. John 1:4a says, "In Him was life," and 10:10b says, "I have come that they may have life and may have it abundantly." In John 14:6a the Lord said, "I am...the life." Also, in John 15 He said that He is the vine tree. Christ is the tree and the life. Therefore, Christ is the tree of life.
Thus, besides these two words image and dominion, we have another crucial word—life. In order to do anything, we need the proper life. A dog barks because it has the dog life, which is a barking life. A cat is capable in catching mice because of the capacity in the cat life, but we do not have this capacity. Likewise, if we want to express God and exercise God’s authority, we need the life to do it. The human life is good neither for expressing God nor for exercising God’s authority. But the human life is good to receive another life that is capable of expressing God and representing God. All the animal lives, such as the dog life, the cat life, or the bird life, are not good for receiving another life. God did not create them in this way. But God did create us in a way that we can receive another life. This life is the eternal life of God Himself, which is Christ.
God created us with a human spirit as the receiving organ to receive God Himself into us as our very life. The human life is not capable of expressing God and not good for exercising God’s authority. But the human life is good for one thing, that is, for receiving the life which is capable—the eternal life (1 John 1:2). "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life" (5:12). This is the unique life signified by the tree of life.
Christ came and presented Himself to His disciples as life. He told the people that He came that they might have life and might have it abundantly (John 10:10b). In Matthew the message was: "Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near" (3:2). But in John the message was: "Unless one is born anew, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (3:3). Matthew and John both deal with the kingdom. Matthew deals with the kingdom as a kind of requirement or demand on us. If we seek to have the kingdom of the heavens, we have to fulfill its requirements. When we read Matthew 5—7, we may want to give up, because what the Lord says here is impossible for us to carry out by our human life. When someone slaps you on your cheek, would you be willing to turn to him your other cheek (Matt. 5:39)? I am afraid you would fight back right away. This means you are not in Matthew but in the law of Moses (v. 38).
After Matthew we must come to the Gospel of John. John also deals with the kingdom, not with its requirement but with the fulfillment of its requirement. The fulfillment of the requirement of the kingdom is Christ as life. You cannot make it, but when Christ comes into you, He will make it. Matthew requires and demands, whereas John affords and supplies. If you have never come to know how much Matthew requires of you for the kingdom, you will never appreciate how much John affords you to meet the requirement of the kingdom. Matthew comes first and then John follows. Matthew requires so much of us, causing all of us to be disappointed. But John comes and says to us, "Don’t be disappointed. I am here. I can give you the supply to meet Matthew’s demand on you. Whatever Matthew requires of you, I can make it for you."
(The Life for the Preaching of the High Gospel, Chapter 4, by Witness Lee)