THREE FORMS OF CHRIST
There are three major problems that needed to be taken care of. How could our sins be taken away? How could Satan be destroyed? How could God’s life be ours?
In the first twelve chapters of John these problems are fully resolved. Christ is portrayed in three different ways. These three pictures are of three different aspects of His death.
In John 1:29 Christ is “the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world.” Christ died first as the redeeming Lamb. On the cross He died for our sins and redeemed us by His blood. His death has taken away our sins.
The Brass Serpent
In 3:14 the Lord, referring to Himself, tells us that “as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up.” In the eyes of God, when Christ was lifted up on the cross, He was in the form of a brass serpent, that is, in the likeness of the flesh of sin (Rom. 8:3). Why was He in this form? It was “that through death He might destroy him who has the might of death, that is, the Devil” (Heb. 2:14). By the death of the cross He judged Satan and destroyed him. Christians appreciate Christ’s dying for us as the Lamb of God, but few have ever heard that He died also in the form of a brass serpent.
The story of the brass serpent is recounted in Numbers 21:5-9. Two kinds of serpents are described. The first kind was the fiery serpents that bit and poisoned the children of Israel as a punishment for their complaining. The second kind was the serpent of brass which Moses made at the Lord’s command and put upon a pole; anyone who was bitten and looked at this serpent was healed.
Christ was like that serpent of brass. He was lifted up on the cross so that “every one who believes in Him may have eternal life” (John 3:15). Because the Devil was judged and destroyed by Christ’s death, we may have eternal life by believing in Him.
The Grain of Wheat
In 12:24 the Lord likened Himself to a grain of wheat. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it abides alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Christ died in the form of a grain of wheat in order to release the divine life and impart it to us. Originally life is only in the single grain. But through death the life in this grain is released and imparted into many grains. We are those grains of wheat!
CHRIST AVAILABLE TO US
Have you seen these three aspects of the death of Christ? It is because of all three that we are able to receive of Christ. We were sinners, under the dark power of Satan and without the divine life. Through His death as the Lamb, Christ bore away our sins; as the brass serpent, He destroyed Satan; as the grain of wheat, He imparted the divine life into us. Our sins are gone! The Devil is destroyed! God’s life in Christ is available to us! There is no longer any hindrance for us to receive all things of God. We have boldness through the blood of Christ to enter the Holy of Holies to receive mercy and grace for timely help.
Whatever you need of Christ you may receive. Right now if you need refreshing, you can turn to Him and declare, “Hallelujah! My sins have been taken away, the Devil has been destroyed, and life has been imparted into me!” You will be refreshed by Him! If you ask me what my need is, I will reply that my need right now is for utterance. While I am speaking, I am looking to the Lord for power, for impact, for utterance. I need a fresh, instant utterance to gain you for the Lord. As I speak, I am praying, “Lord, gain Scandinavia! Gain Sweden! Norway! Denmark! Finland!” I am hungry for this! I need the Lord to satisfy my hunger! You too can have your hunger and thirst satisfied. To be hungry for Him indicates that you are pursuing Him. How is it that you can pursue Him? It is because on the cross He took away your sins and destroyed Satan. The Devil is under your feet. Sins and Satan are on the negative side; on the positive side, the divine life has been imparted into you, making you a child of God.
GRAINS FOR A LOAF
John 1:12-13 reveals that we are God’s children. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave authority to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” How is it that we human beings can be children of God? It is because God’s life has come into us. This came about because a grain of wheat fell into the ground and died. The life in that grain has been released into many grains. We are those many grains, God’s children possessing His life.
What are the grains of wheat used for? They are to make a loaf of bread. We who are many are one bread, one Body (1 Cor. 10:17). The many sons of God are the members of Christ for Him to have a living Body.
REPAIRING THE DAMAGE
What we have covered in this message is part of John’s mending ministry. Even in our time this matter of the many grains possessing the divine life that Christ may have a Body is almost entirely overlooked by the vast majority of Christians. This item was damaged. John stepped in to repair the damage. The other Gospels do not cover this. It is John who tells us that our Christ was God; that He became a man to bring us reality and grace; that for us to receive Him He died on the cross—as the Lamb of God to take away our sins; as the brass serpent to destroy the Devil; and as the grain of wheat to release the divine life into many grains, children of God for the Body of Christ.
This is the first main point of John’s mending ministry. Paul’s ministry had completed the word of God a quarter of a century earlier. In the years after that, many damaging teachings found their way into the church. Because of this damage, John wrote his Gospel, his Epistles, and the Revelation. These writings were to repair the torn fabric of the church. How much we owe to his mending ministry!
(The Mending Ministry of John, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)