Christ versus Religion, by Witness Lee

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Now notice what the Lord said to Mary. "Go unto my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God" (20:17). The Lord did not speak much with her; He gave her no long message. There was absolutely nothing religious in that contact. Suppose we were Jesus: we would probably say, "Mary, let us bow our heads and pray. Then let us sing a hymn and open to Psalm 16, where I will show you how I should rise from the dead." Then surely we would say, "Now Mary, since you have learned everything, go and tell my disciples. I will stand with you. I will pray for you. God be with you." But Jesus never did anything like this. He said one or two sentences that’s all. No prayer, no singing, no Bible reading, no message, no promises of standing with you. This was what happened early in the morning.

Then in the evening of the same day, the disciples were in an extremely unsettled condition. Some like Mary had seen the Lord after His resurrection and had brought the news to the others. Some had seen the Lord during the day on the road to Emmaus. They came together not knowing where to turn or what to expect next. Suddenly the Lord Jesus was there. All the doors were shut, but Jesus suddenly appeared. There was nothing formal, nothing religious, nothing arranged, nothing scheduled. It simply says that Jesus came and stood in the midst and said unto them, "Peace be unto you." Again there was no prayer, no singing, no Bible reading, no God bless you, no "I’m standing with you"—no such thing. Just "Peace be unto you." After saying this, He did a very foolish thing to our natural mind. He breathed upon them. Jesus breathed into His disciples and said unto them, "Receive ye the Holy Spirit [or we may say, as in Greek, the Holy Breath]" (v. 22). Then, after breathing upon them, He said that they would be authorized either to forgive people or hold them sinful. That was all—that was absolutely all! What is this? It is certainly nothing religious. And there is no record that Jesus left. The record only says that Jesus came in when the doors were shut; it does not mention His leaving.

Then we read that after eight days, the disciples were together again and Jesus was in the midst (v. 26). Jesus came in again and again. The Bible records His coming in, but not His leaving. It is marvelous! What does all this mean? There was a meeting, in a sense, but never a dismissal. There was no one who said, "Let us be dismissed." We just read of the coming of the Lord Jesus, not His leaving. I believe the Lord is revealing something to us which is absolutely different from today’s Christianity.

Do you not believe that what is recorded of those two evenings in John 20 were meetings, real meetings? They were undoubtedly meetings of the disciples with the resurrected Jesus. But according to our present realization there was no prayer there, no singing of hymns, no Bible reading, no message, and no dismissal. There was the coming in of Jesus, but not the going out. There was the start, but not the ending. Hallelujah!

(Christ versus Religion, Chapter 9, by Witness Lee)