Authority and Submission, by Watchman Nee


A rod signifies human position, while budding signifies the resurrection life. As far as position is concerned, the twelve leaders of the twelve tribes occupied a position of leadership. Aaron represented the tribe of Levi and was no different than the others in his representation of his own tribe. Aaron could not serve God based on his position, because his position was the same as all the others. In fact, this was why the other tribes objected to his leadership. But what did God do? He ordered that twelve rods be placed in the tent of meeting before the ark for a night. The rod of the one whom God had chosen would bud. This is resurrection. Resurrection is the mark that God recognizes. He only recognizes those who have passed through death and resurrection as His servants. Hence, the mark of ministry is resurrection. A man cannot base his service to God on his position. He must base it on God’s selection. After God caused Aaron’s rod to bud, blossom, and bear fruit, the tribes saw it, and they had nothing more to say.

Authority is not something that one can fight for. It is something established by God. It has nothing to do with our position of leadership. Whether or not we are an authority depends on whether we have passed through death and resurrection. There is nothing in ourselves that sets us apart as a spiritual authority. Everything depends on grace, selection, and resurrection. A man has to degrade to a great depth of darkness and blindness before he can be proud. According to ourselves, no rod will bud even if it is left to itself for a lifetime. The problem today is that it is hard to find a person who will bow down and confess that he is the same as everyone else.


When the Lord Jesus went into Jerusalem on a colt, the people cried, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Mark 11:9). When the colt heard the people shouting “Hosanna” and saw them spreading branches before the Lord, it could have turned around and asked the Lord, “Are they shouting to You or to me?” It could even have turned to its own mother and said, “I am better than you are after all.” If the colt had done this, it would not have known the One who was riding on it. Many servants of God are often this foolish. The colt was no different than other colts. The difference was the Lord who was on the colt. It was not the colt who was being praised, but the Lord who was on the colt. When others cry “Hosanna,” they are not crying to you. The branches and garments on the ground are not laid for you. Only a foolish person would say that he is better than others.

When Aaron saw his rod budding, would he not be the first one to be taken by surprise, and would he not bow down in tears and worship the Lord, saying, “Why has my rod budded? Is not my rod the same as the rods of all the others? Why is such great glory and power bestowed upon me? By itself, my rod would never bud.” That which is of the flesh will always be the flesh. Aaron was the same as all the other people of God. After this experience, others could still be deceived, but not Aaron. He should have realized that all spiritual authority is from God. Today we need to realize also that there is no ground whatsoever for us to be proud. We have mercy because God is willing to grant us mercy. We are not sufficient in ourselves to undertake this ministry; our sufficiency is from God (2 Cor. 3:5). It is a strange thing that a man can claim to live before the Lord and yet not be humbled. What extreme self-confidence and foolishness would the colt have had if it assumed on that day that the praises were directed towards it! The day will come when we will realize how shameful this is. Even if we crave for glory, our glory lies in the future, not in the present.

All young brothers and sisters have to learn humility. You have to realize that it is not you who is able to go on. Do not think that just because you have learned some spiritual lessons, you are different from others. Everything depends on God’s grace, and everything is from God. We can do nothing in ourselves. Aaron knew that God caused the rod to bud; it was the work of supernatural power. Through the budding God spoke to the Israelites, and He also spoke to Aaron. From that day on, Aaron knew that service was based on budding, not on oneself. If we want to serve the Lord today, we must also realize that our service is based on resurrection, and resurrection is based on God, not on us.

(Authority and Submission, Chapter 15, by Watchman Nee)