The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, by Witness Lee

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When the Lord Jesus was on the cross, He spoke seven words. Three of these words are recorded in chapter nineteen of the Gospel of John; the other four are recorded in the synoptic Gospels, in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. If we study this matter, we shall see the difference between the words recorded in the Gospel of John and those recorded in the other Gospels. The four words recorded in the synoptic Gospels are recorded for the purpose of indicating redemption. Before we consider the sign of the fourth word spoken by the Lord Jesus, let us consider the words recorded in the synoptic Gospels.

In Luke 23:34 we have the first of the words spoken by the Lord on the cross: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” This word is a prayer offered for sinners. The second word uttered by the Lord was, “To-day shalt thou be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). The third was, “Woman, behold your son.…Behold, your mother” (John 19:26-27). These three words were spoken during the first three hours of the Lord’s crucifixion. During the second period of three hours, He spoke four other words: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matt. 27:46); “I thirst” (John 19:28); “It is finished” (19:30); and, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

As we consider these words, we see that those recorded in the synoptic Gospels indicate redemption. First, the Lord prayed that the Father would forgive sinners. Then He told the thief who believed in Him that he would be with Him in Paradise. This is a word of grace for salvation. When the Lord cried out concerning God’s forsaking Him, this was an indication that He was our Substitute bearing our sins. The seventh word, when the Lord committed His spirit into the hands of the Father, is also related to redemption.

The three words recorded in the Gospel of John, the third, the fifth, and the sixth, are related not mainly to redemption, but to the purpose of the Lord’s death emphasized in the Gospel of John. This is true with respect to the Lord’s word first to His mother and then to one of His disciples: “Woman, behold your son.…Behold, your mother.” Many readers of this Gospel think that the Lord was simply telling the disciple to take care of His mother. However, there is a much deeper thought here. We need to find the extract of this word spoken by the Lord.

How could the Lord’s mother have one of His disciples as a son, and how could this disciple become the son of the Lord’s mother? This requires a union in life through the imparting of the divine life into the believers. It is by this life that the disciple could become one with Him and become the son of His mother, and she could become the mother of this disciple.

The deep significance of the Lord’s word here is that through His death the divine life within Him was released and imparted to His believers. Now through the life imparted to them the believers have an organic union with Him. Because the Lord’s disciples are one with Him in the divine life, His mother can become the mother of His disciple, and His disciple can become His mother’s son. The Lord’s word in 19:26 and 27 indicates the organic union through the impartation of resurrection life. The emphasis of this word is not on redemption; the emphasis is on the imparting of life. It is very important for us to see this.

Toward the end of His hours on the cross, when the Lord Jesus realized that everything was finished, He said, “I thirst” (19:28). This word indicates that while the Lord Jesus was dying on the cross, He was working. In this regard His death was different from that of any other person. Through His death the Lord did a great work. While this work was taking place, He did not drink anything. Usually one who is working faithfully will not want to drink anything until he is finished. When we are working desperately on a matter, we do not have the time to say, “I am thirsty, and I would like a drink. Would you please serve me a drink?” The Lord Jesus indicated His thirst and need of a drink because He knew that “all things had now been accomplished.”

John 19:29 and 30 say, “A vessel full of vinegar was lying there; so they put a sponge full of vinegar on hyssop and brought it to His mouth. When Jesus then had taken the vinegar, He said, It is finished! And He bowed His head and gave up the spirit.” Those who offered the vinegar to the Lord were mocking Him.

(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 57, by Witness Lee)