THE TREE OF LIFE BEING GOD IN CHRIST AS LIFE IN THE FORM OF FOOD
Having the image of God and the authority of God are mainly objective. Subjectively, man still needed the life of God. Man had the image of God, and he also had the dominion of God, but he still did not have the life of God, which is God Himself. Therefore, God put man in front of the tree of life in the midst of the garden (Gen. 2:8-9), indicating by this that man should partake of it. The tree of life signifies God Himself as life to man in the form of food. Later, the Bible indicates to us that God in Christ is the tree of life (John 1:4; 10:10; 14:6; 15:1). Genesis 2:9 says, “And out of the ground Jehovah God caused to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, as well as the tree of life in the middle of the garden.” Then when Jesus came, He said, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall by no means hunger, and he who believes into Me shall by no means ever thirst.…I am the living bread which came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he shall live forever.…As the living Father has sent Me and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me” (John 6:35, 51, 57).
GOD’S COMMANDMENT CONCERNING MAN’S EATING
According to Genesis 2:9, the tree of knowledge was next to the tree of life. God put man in front of the tree of life so that he would take the tree of life, and He also warned man not to take of the tree of knowledge. Genesis 2:16-17 says, “And Jehovah God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden you may eat freely, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, of it you shall not eat; for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” The tree of knowledge is the tree of the knowledge not only of evil but of good and evil. Both good and evil are versus life. God’s intention was that Adam would take the tree of life and have nothing to do with the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
After man’s creation, God gave Adam almost no commandments. He did not say, “Adam, first, you have to realize that you must worship Me. I am the Creator and you are the creature. Second, you have to glorify Me. Third, I made a wife for you, and you have to love her. Fourth, you have to be kind, humble, and patient. Last, I will give you some children, and you have to take care of them.” Such commandments are not found in Genesis 2. God told man very little of what to do and what not to do. God only told him to be careful about the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. In other words, God seemed to say, “Adam, just take care of your eating. If you eat the right things, you will be okay, but if you eat the wrong things, you will die.” God did not tell Adam to do anything. He did not give him ten commandments nor even two commandments. He simply warned Adam to eat rightly, to be careful concerning the two trees which were in front of him. We all must realize that God’s intention is not that we do this or that. God’s intention is that we eat of Him and take Him as our life.
TAKING GOD AS LIFE BY EATING JESUS
God’s intention was that He would be Adam’s life, that is, that Adam would take God as his life. We may illustrate the way to take God as life with American produce. How can a chicken become life to us? If we only carry the chicken around, it is still a whole chicken; it is not life to us. The only way for the chicken to be life to us is for us to slaughter it, cook it, serve it on the dining table, and eat it. Then after a few hours of digestion and assimilation, the chicken will become us. It is only in this way that something outside of us can become life to us. We have the saying, “You are what you eat.” I may see a chicken at your home in the morning, but in the evening it may be gone. Where is the chicken? It is now in you; after eating the chicken, you become the chicken.
Few if any in Christianity have heard that God’s intention is that man would take God by eating Him. Many have never heard a message that told them that man has to eat God. During a conference in Taiwan in 1958 I gave a strong message on John 6, telling the saints that Jesus is eatable and that we all have to eat Him. After the meeting, an educated brother came to me in a very nice but purposeful way, saying, “Brother Lee, your message tonight was wonderful. Only one thing bothered me. You said that we can eat Jesus. To say this is too wild.” I replied, “Brother, if I am wild, I am not the first one to be wild. The Lord Jesus Himself was wild because He said in John 6:57, ‘He who eats Me, he also shall live because of Me.’ This is not my invention; this is my quotation. Don’t blame me for being wild. Go to the Lord Jesus and blame Him.”
Actually, it is not a matter of being wild. Thoughts like these come from the human and religious concepts. Whenever we talk about God, we always consider that God is so great, so high, and so dignified, sitting on the throne, and that we have to bow down before Him. This is our natural, religious concept. When someone says that we can eat Jesus, we wonder how Jesus can be eaten. In John 6 the Lord Jesus performed a miracle by feeding five thousand people with five barley loaves. The Jewish people saw that miracle and, considering that Jesus was someone great, wanted to make Him a king. Eventually, the Lord Jesus withdrew from them because He did not want to be their king outwardly. The next day when He came back, He told the people, “I am the bread of life. I have no intention to be something great. My intention is to be your food. Don’t make Me a king. Rather, take Me as food and eat Me.”
To kneel down quietly before the Lord as the bread on the table is too religious. The Lord Jesus may say, “Silly ones. I don’t want to see you bowing down. Get up and eat. I don’t want your religious worship. It is not that I am short of your worship; it is that you are short of Me. You have to take Me in by eating Me.”
(Enjoying the Riches of Christ for the Building Up of the Church as the Body of Christ, Chapter 5, by Witness Lee)