The Kingdom, by Witness Lee

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Let us consider the case in Matthew 12:1-8. While the religious people were keeping the Sabbath in the temple, synagogues, or homes, the Lord Jesus brought His disciples to the wheat field to gather wheat. The Pharisees saw them picking and eating the grains. How did it happen that the Pharisees were there? They were the "Sabbath patrol," out on patrol, trying to find the Lord Jesus and His disciples breaking the Sabbath law. Eventually, they caught the Lord and His disciples. (For more details, read Christ versus Religion.) Those poor religious Pharisees would prefer to keep people hungry in order to observe the Sabbath. The real meaning of the Sabbath is rest. To keep the Sabbath is to have rest. Even if you are suffering from hunger, the religious people would force you to observe the Sabbath regulations. If you were hungry, and the religious people compelled you to keep the Sabbath laws, would that be a rest or a suffering? No doubt it would be a suffering. But the religious ones do not care about the suffering; they only care for the Sabbath regulations. To keep these regulations is to make yourself heavily burdened. Now we can understand the word of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 11:28: "Come to Me all who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest." Not only were the disciples hungry on that Sabbath day, but the men on the Sabbath patrol were also hungry. But they dared not to eat. They kept the Sabbath, yet they were suffering. This means they were heavily burdened.

The Lord Jesus wants the heavily burdened ones to come to Him so that He can give them rest. How will He give them rest? By breaking the Sabbath! He will give them rest by breaking the laws that cause them to be heavily burdened. This is the way to find rest. Many Christians quote Matthew 11:28-30 without connecting them to the previous verses or to the following verses. When they preach the gospel they use these verses, telling the hearers that they are heavily burdened with sins. Strictly speaking, however, to be "heavily burdened" in this verse is not to be heavily burdened with sins, but with religion, regulations, rules, rituals, and laws. You need to be unloaded. You need to be emancipated and released. To be released is to be in the kingdom of God. The kingdom is not enslavement; it is emancipation. The kingdom of Satan is slavery; the kingdom of the heavens is emancipation. When you enter into the kingdom of the heavens, you will be completely unloaded. You will be fully released, liberated, and emancipated. You will enjoy the Person of Christ. No longer will you be enslaved to regulations. In the kingdom we have the living Lord Jesus without any regulations. Truly this is our emancipation. As kingdom people, how many regulations do we have? We must be able to say, "We have no regulations, but we do have the living Christ." What a release this is to us!

Suppose the brothers living in a brothers’ house compiled a list of twenty-four regulations and posted it on the wall. If a young brother came to live in that house, he would feel a heavy burden to keep all the regulations. He would have to memorize them and recite them and attempt to keep them. I do not expect to see any such list in the brothers’ house. I do not like to see regulations. I like to see a living Person, Christ. In the brothers’ house there should be only one living Person—no regulations.

(The Kingdom, Chapter 23, by Witness Lee)