We have made the statement that Jesus did unusual things, but that he did them on account of, or rather by virtue of, his unusual insight into and understanding of the laws whereby they could be done. His understanding of the powers of the mind and spirit was intuitive and very great. As an evidence of this were his numerous cases of healing the sick and the afflicted.
Intuitively he perceived the existence and the nature of the subjective mind, and in connection with it the tremendous powers of suggestion. Intuitively he was able to read, to diagnose the particular ailment and the cause of the ailment before him. His thought was so poised that it was energized by a subtle and peculiar spiritual power. Such confidence did his personality and his power inspire in others that he was able to an unusual degree to reach and to arouse the slumbering subconscious mind of the sufferer and to arouse into action its own slumbering powers whereby the life force of the body could transcend and remold its error-ridden and error-stamped condition.
In all these cases he worked through the operation of law—it is exactly what we know of the laws of suggestion today. The remarkable cases of healing that are being accomplished here and there among us today are done unquestionably through the understanding and use of the same laws that Jesus was the supreme master of.
By virtue of his superior insight—his understanding of the laws of the mind and spirit—he was able to use them so fully and so effectively that he did in many cases eliminate the element of time in his healing ministrations. But even he was dependent in practically all cases, upon the mental cooperation of the one who would be healed. Where this was full and complete he succeeded; where it was not he failed. Such at least again and again is the statement in the accounts that we have of these facts in connection with his life and work. There were places where we are told he could do none of his mighty works on account of their unbelief, and he departed from these places and went elsewhere. Many times his question was: "Believe ye that I am able to do this?" Then: "According to your faith be it unto you," and the healing was accomplished.
The laws of mental and spiritual therapeutics are identically the same today as they were in the days of Jesus and his disciples, who made the healing of sick bodies a part of their ministration. It is but fair to presume from the accounts that we have that in the early Church of the Disciples, and for well on to two hundred years after Jesus' time, the healing of the sick and the afflicted went hand in hand with the preaching and the teaching of the Kingdom. There are those who believe that it never should have been abandoned. As a well-known writer has said: "Healing is the outward and practical attestation of the power and genuineness of spiritual religion, and ought not to have dropped out of the Church." Recent sincere efforts to re-establish it in church practice, following thereby the Master's injunction, is indicative of the thought that is alive in connection with the matter today. From the accounts that we have Jesus seems to have engaged in works of healing more during his early than during his later ministry. He may have used it as a means to an end. On account of his great love and sympathy for the physical sufferer as well as for the moral sufferer, it is but reasonable to suppose that it was an integral part of his announced purpose—the saving of the life, of the entire life, for usefulness, for service, for happiness.
And so we have this young Galilean prophet, coming from an hitherto unknown Jewish family in the obscure little village of Nazareth, giving obedience in common with his four brothers and his sisters to his father and his mother; but by virtue of a supreme aptitude for and an irresistible call to the things of the spirit—made irresistible through his overwhelming love for the things of the spirit—he is early absorbed by the realization of the truth that God is his father and that all men are brothers.
The thought that God is his father and that he bears a unique and filial relationship to God so possesses him that he is filled, permeated with the burning desire to make this newborn message of truth and thereby of righteousness known to the world.
His own native religion, once vibrating through the souls of the prophets as the voice of God, has become so obscured, so hedged about, so killed by dogma, by ceremony, by outward observances, that it has become a mean and pitiable thing, and produces mean and pitiable conditions in the lives of his people. The institution has become so overgrown that the spirit has gone. But God finds another prophet, clearly and supremely open to His spirit, and Jesus comes as the Messiah, the Divine Son of God, the Divine Son of Man, bringing to the earth a new Dispensation. It is the message of the Divine Fatherhood of God, God whose controlling character is love, and with it the Divine sonship of man. An integral part of it is—all men are brothers.
He comes as the teacher of a new, a higher righteousness. He brings the message and he expounds the message of the Kingdom of God. All men he teaches must repent and turn from their sins, and must henceforth live in this Kingdom. It is an inner kingdom. Men shall not say: Behold it is here or it is there; for, behold, it is within you. God is your father and God longs for your acknowledgment of Him as your father; He longs for your love even as He loves you. You are children of God, but you are not true Sons of God until through desire the Divine rule and life becomes supreme in your minds and hearts. It is thus that you will find the Kingdom of God. When you do, then your every act will show forth in accordance with this Divine ideal and guide, and the supreme law of conduct in your lives will be love for your neighbor, for all mankind. Through this there will then in time become actualized the Kingdom of Heaven on the earth.
He comes in no special garb, no millinery, no brass bands, no formulas, no dogmas, no organization other than the Kingdom, to uphold and become a slave to, and in turn be absorbed by, as was the organization that he found strangling all religion in the lives of his people and which he so bitterly condemned. What he brought was something infinitely transcending this—the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, to which all men were heirs—equal heirs—and thereby redemption from their sins, therefore salvation, the saving of their lives, would be the inevitable result of their acknowledgment of and allegiance to the Divine rule.
How he embraced all—such human sympathy—coming not to destroy but to fulfil; not to judge the world but to save the world. How he loved the children! How he loved to have them about him! How he loved their simplicity, and native integrity of mind and heart! Hear him as he says: "Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the Kingdom of God as a little child, he shall not enter therein"; and again: "Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not; for of such is the Kingdom of God." The makers of dogma, in evolving some three hundred years later on the dogma of the inherent sinfulness and degradation of the human life and soul, could certainly find not the slightest trace of any basis for it again in these words and acts of Jesus.
We find him sympathizing with and mingling with and seeking to draw unto the way of his own life the poor, the outcast, the sinner, the same as the well-to-do and those of station and influence—seeking to draw all through love and knowledge to the Father.
There is a sense of justice and righteousness in his soul, however, that balks at oppression, injustice, and hypocrisy. He therefore condemns and in scathing terms those and only those who would seek to place any barrier between the free soul of any man and his God, who would bind either the mind or the conscience of man to any prescribed formulas or dogmas. Honoring, therefore the forms that his intelligence and his conscience allowed him to honor, he disregarded those that they did not.
Like other good Jewish rabbis, for he was looked upon during his ministry and often addressed as Rabbi, he taught in the synagogues of his people; but oftener out on the hillsides and by the lake-side, under the blue sky and the stars of heaven. Giving due reverence to the Law and the Prophets—the religion of his people and his own early religion—but in spirit and in discriminating thought so far transcending them, that the people marveled at his teachings and said—surely this a prophet come from God; no man ever spoke to us as he speaks. By the ineffable beauty of his life and the love and the winsomeness of his personality, and by the power of the truths that he taught, he won the hearts of the common people. They followed him and his following continually increased.
Through it all, however, he incurred the increasing hostility and the increasing hatred of the leaders, the hierarchy of the existing religious organization. They were animated by a double motive, that of protecting themselves, and that of protecting their established religion. But in their slavery to the organization, and because unable to see that it was the spirit of true religion that he brought and taught, they cruelly put him to death—the same as the organization established later on in his name, put numbers of God's true prophets, Jesus' truest disciples to death, and essentially for the same reasons.
Jesus' quick and almost unerring perception enabled him to foresee this. It did not deter him from going forward with his message, standing resolutely and superbly by his revelation, and at the last almost courting death—feeling undoubtedly that the sealing of his revelation and message with his very life blood would but serve to give it its greatest power and endurance. Heroically he met the fate that he perceived was conspiring to end his career, to wreck his teachings and his influence. He went forth to die clear-sighted and unafraid.
He died for the sake of the truth of the message that he lived and so diligently and heroically labored for—the message of the ineffable love of God for all His children and the bringing of them into the Father's Kingdom. And we must believe from his whole life's teaching, not to save their souls from some future punishment; not through any demand of satisfaction on the part of God; not as any substitutionary sacrifice to appease the demands of an angry God—for it was the exact opposite of this that his whole life teaching endeavored to make known. It was supremely the love of the Father and His longing for the love and allegiance, therefore the complete life and service of His children. It was the beauty of holiness—the beauty of wholeness—the wholeness of life, the saving of the whole life from the sin and sordidness of self and thereby giving supreme satisfaction to God. It was love, not fear. If not, then almost in a moment he changed the entire purpose and content, the entire intent of all his previous life work. This is unthinkable.
In his last act he did not abrogate his own expressed statement, that the very essence of his message was expressed, as love to God and love to one's neighbor. He did not abrogate his continually repeated declaration that it was the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, which brings man's life into right relations with God and into right relations with his fellow-men, that it was his purpose to reveal and to draw all men to, thereby aiding God's eternal purpose—to establish in this world a state which he designated the Kingdom of Heaven wherein a social order of brotherliness and justice, wrought and maintained through the potency of love, would prevail. In doing this he revealed the character of God by being himself an embodiment of it.
It was the power of a truth that was to save the life that he was always concerned with. Therefore his statement that the Son of Man has come that men might have life and might have it more abundantly—to save men from sin and from failure, and secondarily from their consequences; to make them true Sons of God and fit subjects and fit workers in His Kingdom. Conversion according to Jesus is the fact of this Divine rule in the mind and heart whereby the life is saved—the saving of the soul follows. It is the direct concomitant of the saved life.
In his death he sealed his own statement: "The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it." Through his death he sealed the message of his life when putting it in another form he said: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word and believeth on Him that sent me hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation: but is passed from death unto life."
In this majestic life divinity and humanity meet. Here is the incarnation. The first of the race consciously, vividly, and fully to realize that God incarnates Himself and has His abode in the hearts and the lives of men, the first therefore to realize his Divine Sonship and become able thereby to reveal and to teach the Divine Fatherhood of God and the Divine Sonship of Man.
In this majestic life is the atonement, the realization of the at-one-ment of the Divine in the human, made manifest in his own life and in the way that he taught, sealed then by his own blood.
In this majestic life we have the mediator, the medium or connector of the Divine and the human. In it we have the Savior, the very incarnation of the truth that he taught, and that lifts the minds and thereby the lives of men up to their Divine ideal and pattern, that redeems their lives from the sordidness and selfishness and sin of the hitherto purely material self, and that being thereby saved, makes them fit subjects for the Father's Kingdom.
In this majestic life is the full embodiment of the beauty of holiness—whose words have gone forth and whose spirit is ceaselessly at work in the world, drawing men and women up to their divine ideal, and that will continue so to draw all in proportion as his words of truth and his life are lifted up throughout the world.