"And he said unto them, Is a candle brought to be put under a bushel, or under a bed? and not to be put on the candlestick?
“For there is nothing hid, which shall not be manifested; neither was anything kept secret, but that it should come abroad.
"If any man have ears to hear, let him hear."
—Mark IV. 21, 22, 23
You will perceive that the sayings of Jesus recorded in the above verses are in marked contrast with the ideas and opinions of many theologians of the present time, who declare that there are certain mysteries that are unfathomable to the mind of man and we should not seek to understand them. Jesus declared that every hidden thing must be made manifest; and that every secret thing should come to light. “If any man have ears to hear, let him hear."
One of the greatest mysteries to be found in the New Testament is the Crucifixion; and if we have eyes to see and ears to hear, new light may come to our souls out of this mystery of the past. We may discern a greater truth and arrive at truer and holier interpretations. If the heart is dead to spiritual things, if the ear is dulled so that the Voice of the Highest cannot be heard, if the eye is dimmed so that there is lack of spiritual perception, we will see and know of nothing but he crucifixion of a body similar to hundreds — yes, thousands—of other bodies that were crucified thirty years later at the siege of Jerusalem. How few among those claiming to be followers of Jesus get any other thought save that of a physical crucifixion. How few there are who see that everything made manifest in the visible world has its counterpart in mental or spiritual realms of thought. Everything made manifest in the visible is no more nor less than a type or symbol of the invisible. We worship the letter of things, and we miss the spirit. It is not possible to worship both. If we are steeped in a worship of form and ceremonial, we lose sight of all true spirituality; we are alive to the letter, but we are dead to the spirit.
In order to arrive at the true meaning of the Crucifixion, we must thoroughly understand all the things that lead up to it. Again, it is necessary to understand things from a spiritual point of vantage, and through the insight thus acquired, be better able to discern how things were made manifest outwardly.
Very little was known of Jesus as a child; little more is known of him as a youth. There is but one incident recorded of his life, and that is, that when a youth of twelve years he disputed with the elders in the temple, asking and answering questions. There is much that comes to us through legend; there is much more that we might surmise of that period of his life from childhood to manhood; but it would be only speculation at best. It is with Jesus as a man that we first come to know and understand him. I say understand. Do we understand him? This only can be done truly when we are imbued by the same spirit.
His baptism by John was the first notable event. This baptism by water, which seems to have been an old Jewish rite, signifying cleansing or purifying, was the outward symbol of an inward process. Jesus himself never instituted any forms or ordinances whatever. At times, we find him complying with Jewish rites and ordinances, but never instituting them. Strictly speaking, there are no Christian rites nor ceremonies.
Even the last, known as the Lord's Supper, was but the observance of the Jewish feast of the Passover.
The second great event in the life of Jesus, was his being led by the Spirit into the Wilder- ness to be tempted of the devil. — Just a word in reference to this devil. In the original Greek we find three words used to designate the devil; translated into English, those words mean enemy, tempter y adversary. This enemy — this tempter — is within man, and is not a personality outside him. It is something that appeals to man through his lower nature to gratify his selfish desires. The enemy is ever at war with all that is spiritual and true in the soul of man. This adversary comes in different guises, appealing to the lower, but never to the higher nature of man.
Under one of three heads comes every temptation that presents itself to man in this life: the gratification of the purely animal man ; the praise of men ; the desire for riches and power. Jesus met the enemy there in the Wilderness, and the final defeat of the enemy was the result of that great battle in the Wilder- ness. Many seem to think that the enemy never returned to Jesus; but throughout his mission on earth he was tempted and tried like as we are. The Scripture says: "And when the devil had ended all the temptations, he departed from him or a season.” The Crucifixion that ended on Calvary had its beginning in the Wilderness. It was the struggle of the soul to overcome the lower desires of the human nature through a recognition of the Divine.
The only enemy we have to contend with in life is the carnal mind, which is ever at enmity against God, which is ever in opposition to the Will of God in the soul of man. This is the adversary that is to be met and overcome. We must crucify this mortal self, these vain and untrue desires that present themselves at every step in life. The old man — the man of sin — must be crucified so that the new man may become manifest.
We come now to the next phase in the life of Jesus: the preaching of his gospel of glad tidings — the gospel of peace and good-will to all men, wherein he teaches: "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do you even so unto them." A more unselfish doctrine has never been preached. None of the world's great teachers has ever revealed a gospel to man- kind which contains within it more joy and hope, more peace and good-will, more health and strength, more life and love, than that contained in the gospel of the lowly Nazarene. It is a gospel that breathes with blessings. But O, how we have misinterpreted it in the past! God grant that we may better understand it in the present. It is a gospel of being and doing ; it is a gospel of self-forgetfulness; it is a gospel that teaches that only as we lose our lives in thinking and caring for others, will joy and peace flow into our souls, making our lives complete. He disclosed one great truth in his gospel that had never been shown by any other Biblical teacher: namely, that the kingdom of heaven is within one; that the Father must be sought and found within; that this outer personality is of very little importance; and that the spirit is the quickening power in every soul. Jesus, in his meekness and lowliness, refuses to accept any honor or glory for his own personality. Over and over again we hear him saying, "I can of mine own self do nothing." "The Father working within me, He doeth the works." In no way does he seek to attract attention to his own personality, but declares that the words that he is speaking will bring life and liberty to those who entertain them; that freedom comes through knowing the truth, then being one with the truth, and acting in accord with it; that it does not and cannot come through a worship of personality, but through a worship of God in spirit and in truth. His whole life, when rightly viewed, is a protest against materialism, and against forms and ceremonies that had become meaningless. In turn, through materialism, his physical body was to be crucified.
Had Jesus enjoined upon the people an observance of all the Mosaic laws and rites, he would have suffered little from the priesthood. But because he saw that the soul was superior to any law that had ever been made by anyone to guide it, he came in direct conflict with them. His law was the law of truth; it was the law of righteous- ness, transcending any Mosaic law. His authority rested on the Word of God, as it was made manifest in his own consciousness. It was not necessary that he should quote Moses as an authority. "He did not speak to the people as the Scribes or Pharisees, but as one having authority." ‘The law may say what it pleases, but what I say unto you is superior to law."
While the priesthood observed the law outwardly, they had lost all spiritual conception of it. They had their ritualism, their external creeds, or laws, but that was all. Now ritualism and creed will eventually do one of two things for man. When, through discerning the inner meaning of them, he comes to see their emptiness, they will cause him to reach beyond them for spiritual food that will satisfy the longing of a hungry soul ; or they will cause him to become an infidel or an atheist. If, seeing their hollowness, he yet tries to conform to them, something worse than atheism and infidelity enters the soul — rank hypocrisy; and this last was the condition of the priesthood when Jesus appeared on earth. This hypocrisy was what he had to contend with among the spiritual leaders of the people; and it was this that eventually crucified his mortal body.
The thing in the life of Jesus that appeals most to man, is his utter unselfishness. All his time, all his thought, all his energy, Jesus spent in caring for others: relieving their suffering, comforting them in their sorrow, scattering blessings wherever he went. He left such a record behind him that if not a page of his life had been written, yet the account of his doings would have descended by word of mouth from generation to generation, and would shine as brightly in the present time as then. His whole life is an example of what man should be and should do. Man may become Christ-like — he may be like Jesus, do as Jesus did, if he will but crucify his lower self; if he will die to his own weak selfish will, and allow the Will of God to become the supreme motive power in his being.
Another great event in the life of Jesus was his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, where he was received with the acclamation of the people who believed he had come as their temporal ruler. But his kingdom was not of this world, and the people that hailed him as king on that day, on the morrow joined with the priests and rabble in the mad cry, “Crucify him, crucify him."
The end was rapidly nearing, one event following another in quick succession; the Last Supper with his disciples, the sorrow that must have filled his heart because he was about to be betrayed by one who had been with him, listening to his teachings, being his follower in name, at least; the prayer in the Garden where he gave utterance to the one thing that ever had been uppermost in his life: "Abba, Father, all things are possible unto thee ; take away this cup from me: nevertheless not what I will, but what thou wilt." This had ever been, and continued to be the thought of his life — Not my will, but the Will of the Father be done.
Next came his betrayal, followed by the examination before Pilate; the dispersal of his disciples; the indignities heaped upon him by the Roman soldiers; the crown of thorns, the mockery of those who hailed him as "King of the Jews," and last of all, his crucifixion on the cross. Even in that last hour his thoughts were not so much centered upon himself but that he could think of his mother.
Though nailed to the cross, yet he saw, not far from him, the disciple whom he dearly loved, standing with Mary, his mother. "He saith unto his mother, Woman, behold thy son! Then saith he to the disciple, Behold thy mother! And from that hour that disciple took her unto his own home."
But even those who were his enemies were not forgotten in that hour. The command that he had given years before to his disciples and the people: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good unto them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you," he himself fulfilled in that last hour; for he prayed, "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."
For one brief moment of time — only a moment — ere soul and body parted, showing that even yet human feeling had not died in his soul, that it had not passed from under the spell of the things of this world, he uttered in his final agony, " My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" But it was a momentary thought only, and was quickly followed by, “It is finished. Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit."
Yes, the struggle with the world had ended; and the soul that had been tempted and tried like as we are, had passed from death unto life. The veil of the temple was rent. No more should the priest enter in to offer up sacrifices for the people. Jesus, the Christ, had shown a new and a living way; a way that, if followed, would bring man out from under the bondage of his lower selfhood; a way that alone disclosed life and immortality. The temple might be destroyed, the veil rent, but the Word of God, as it is written in the soul of man, shall live forever.
"And of his fullness have we all received, and grace for grace."
"Life is the victory of the grave, Christ is Lord of the Lord of Death."
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More from Charles Brodie Patterson
- Canadian New Thought author
- Born in Nova Scotia in 1854 and died on June, 22nd 1917