Passing Through the Midst of Them

From the Christian Science Sentinel, May 23, 1914,

When, after the temptation in the wilderness, Jesus returned to Nazareth, and, upon going into the synagogue to read, claimed that the words of the prophet Esaias were that day fulfilled in him, it aroused the wrath of those who heard, that he should claim with so great confidence such mighty things for himself. Was not this the carpenter’s son? Had he not grown up among the other boys of Nazareth? Was he not one of them, and quite as humble in origin, education, and environment? Without “honor in his own country,” and despite the evident resentment of his auditors, Jesus continued to affirm that he was, in truth, the one sent to “heal the broken-hearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised.” Marveling at his gracious words, even though incensed by them, the record tells us that they, with human emotions of jealousy, envy, suspicion, and malice seething in their thoughts because he claimed superiority to them, his own townspeople, “thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.” But we further read that he passed through the midst of them and went his way.

The very simplicity of the latter statement brings with it a sense of power and confidence that gave to the writer, when she read it in connection with one of the Lesson-Sermons, an illuminated perception of the quiet grandeur and dignity of the Nazarene as, saying nothing, fearing nothing, he quietly, steadily, safely went his way, knowing who it was that went before him. Undisturbed by the attempt to destroy him, or the treachery of those who, humanly speaking, should have been his most devoted supporters and friends, he went about his Father’s business, serene in the consciousness that His will would in any case be done, and that there was no other will. Alone with God was this true child of His, absolutely at-one with the power that produced him; hence, he feared neither scorn nor misunderstanding. How often the human cry goes out: “If people only understood me! How can I endure to be so misjudged and misunderstood!” Yet Emerson writes in language clear as crystal: “Is it so bad then to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton . . . To be great is to be misunderstood.”

Jesus came to Capernaum, and wholly unshaken by what would have been a severe ordeal to most men, spoke to the people there with such power that “they were astonished at his doctrine.” Beginning his healing ministry even in the synagogue, in fulfilment of the prophecies which had been made concerning “he that should come,” he went his way without question, and it was the way of gentleness, peace, love, and rightness. Continuing to heal those that were “sick with divers diseases,” what a sense of assurance and courage comes to us as we read the simple unembellished words, “He laid his hands on every one of them, and healed them.” It mattered not to him what the form might be in which evil vaunted itself, or in what manner of man expressed,—it was just a lie, because not of God, without whom nothing was made that was made. The narrative states too that the “devils” as they departed from many, cried out, saying, “Thou art Christ, the Son of God.” They knew (to continue the personification of evil) that he was the Christ, the truth, before whose power they must needs go down. Knowing, therefore, that their time was short, the evils, one by one, left those that they had seemed to hold in such fearful bondage and, sometimes throwing down the one tormented, and sometimes crying “with a loud voice,” they none the less disappeared and “hurt him not.”

Ever passing through trials, persecutions, desertions, “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” yet rejoicing because of the faith that was in him, the glorious, steadfast Master of us all went his way,—”the best man that ever trod this planet” (Science and Health, p. 364),—though that way led him to the cross on Calvary. Even there he trusted the one power by which he had been guided through every troublous situation, to win his victory. Surely a knowledge of the glory to be revealed sustained him in this supreme test of his career, to be revealed not only to him but to all those that believe on him and listen to his earnest bidding,—”I am the way,” “Follow thou me.” No complaints, no regrets, no looking back with a sense of self-pity that he had endured so much, but just “Thy will be done;” and later, free from all thought of the ingratitude, treachery, and jealousy that had brought him where he was, he prayed with sublime self-forgetfulness for those who most needed that for which he prayed, a realization of the infinite, universal fatherhood of God,—”Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” Was there ever such forgiveness, ever such complete setting aside of the human self?

All those who believe on the Master are commanded to follow and obey. Then indeed are absolute consecration and watchfulness demanded, as Mrs. Eddy so well knew, if we are even so much as to touch “the hem of his garment.” Yet listen to the wondrous promises: “Greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” “I have overcome the world.” “Lo, I am with you alway.” Awed by the sublimity of such self-effacement and unchanging love; realizing, even humanly, the recompense and reward so indisputably belonging to such complete renunciation, one likes to look beyond the scene on Calvary to the resurrection morning, when the stone was rolled away and the risen Christ was revealed to those who sought. Also to the glory of the ascension when, every remembrance of materiality left behind, Jesus disappeared from the wistful gaze of those who still saw with imperfect vision; and what a solace it is to read that he said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me”! All men, he said, and he never spoke vainly; so that universal salvation, accomplished by the setting aside in each individual consciousness of all false material beliefs, is to be achieved.

It is something even to have started toward our Father’s house, to know that He comes to meet us when we are a great way off; and that the forgiving love of God is always at hand when we really seek it. Truly we none of us know what we do when, blinded by human opinions, we entertain, if only for a second, a thought of suspicion or condemnation toward a brother man. “Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of,” Jesus once said to his disciples, and it is to awaken mankind to a realization of what they actually are, here and now, as “sons of God” that Christian Science stands. Acting as a leaven, it is steadily working to turn humanity back from the long search for happiness and health in material things, to the deep things of the Spirit. Here alone salvation lies from all the evil doubts and fears that spring from a belief in a power apart from God.

There is, then, a sure rule for him who would follow the Master (forgetting those things that are behind, and turning away from the perishable things of matter to the imperishable things of Spirit), and it is this: Pass through the midst of them and go thy way. Though jealousy, malice, hatred, envy, suspicion, and their kind, raise their heads to hiss and sting and overthrow, still go thy way unscathed. They have no power except as you fear them. In the book of Isaiah these words are found to strengthen us: “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.”

“My presence shall go with thee.” Clearly conscious of that omnipotent presence, one can be cognizant of nothing else; and it goes without saying that what one is not conscious of does not and cannot exist for him. Through the very midst of error, recognizing only spiritual being, for others as well as for himself, one can see false consciousness at the coming of the true, even though it cries out at recognizing its master, vanish utterly, as all lies must when they are no longer believed in.

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