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The Jesus of History by T. R. Glover

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against the judgement of the business experts. Slavery meant robbing
the man of every right that Nature gave him; and, as Homer said long
ago, "Farseeing Zeus takes away half a man's manhood, when he brings
the day of slavery upon him."[17] He became a thief, a liar, dirty,
and bad; and with the woman it was still worse. The slave woman was
a little lower than the animal; she might not have offspring. It was
"natural," men said; "Nature had designed certain races to be
slaves; slavery was written in Nature; it was Nature's law." These
were not the thoughts of vulgar people, but of some of the best of
the Greeks--not of all, indeed; but society was organized on the
basis of slavery. It was an accepted axiom of all social and
economic life.

As to the spiritual background, for the present let us postpone the
heathen world and consider the Jews, who represented in some ways
the world's highest at this period. Modern scholarship is shedding
fresh light on the literature and ideas that were prevalent between
the end of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New. But what
uncertainty about God! Why some people should think that it was
easier to believe in God in those days than now, I do not see. Far
less was known of God; the record of his doings was not so long as
it is for us, and it was not so well known. No one could understand
what God meant, if he was quite clear himself. Look at what he did
with the nation. He chose Israel, he established the kingdom of
David. They did not get on very well, and at last were carried away
into Captivity in Babylon. So much he did for his people; and when
he brought them back again to the Promised Land, it was to a very
trying and difficult situation; and worse still followed after
Nehemiah's day. Alexander the Great's conquest of the East left a
Macedonian dynasty ruling those regions, and one of their great
kings, Antiochus Epiphanes, tried to stamp out the religion of
Jehovah altogether. The Book of Daniel is a record of that
persecution about 166 B.C. The Maccabeean brothers delivered Israel,
and rescued the religion of Jehovah; and a kingdom of a sort was
established with them; but the grandsons of the liberators became
tyrants. What did God mean? Out of all the promises to Israel, to
the House of David, this is what comes. Herod follows--a foreign
king and an Edomite; and the Romans are over all, suzerains and

In despair of the present men began to forecast the future. A time
will surely come, they said, when God will give an anointed one, the
Messiah; he will set all Israel free, will make Israel rule the
world instead of the Romans; he will gather together the scattered
of Israel from the four winds, reunite and assemble God's people in
triumph in Palestine. And then, when the prophet paused, a plain man
spoke: "I don't care if he does. My father all his life looked
forward to that. What does it matter now, if God redeems his people,
or if he does not? My father is dead." The answer was, why should
your father not come with the redeemed Israel? But what evidence is
there for that? Does God care for people beyond the grave? Is there
personal immortality?--that became the anxious question.[18]

But is this kingdom of the Messiah to be an earthly or a heavenly
kingdom? Will it be in Jerusalem or in heaven? Are you quite sure
that there is any distinction in the other world between good and
bad, between Jew and Gentile? Some people thought the kingdom would
be in Jerusalem; others said it would be in heaven, and added that
the Jews will look down and see the Gentiles in hell--something
worth seeing at last. But, after all, it was still guesswork--
"perhaps" was the last word.

When the question is asked, "Was Jesus the Messiah?" the obvious
reply is, "Which Messiah?" For there seems to have been no standard
idea of the Messiah. The Messiah was, on the whole, as vague a term
as, in modern politics, Socialism or Tariff Reform. Neither of them
has come; perhaps they never will come, and nobody knows what they
will be till they do come. Jesus is not what they expected. A Jewish
girl, at an American Student Conference a year or two ago, said
about Jesus: "I do not think he is the Messiah, but I do love him."
Of course he was not in her Jewish sense. The term was a vague one.

The main point was that men were uncertain about God. God was
unintelligible. They did not understand his ideas, either for the
nation or for the individual; God's plans miscarried with such
fatality. Or if he had some deeper design, it was still all
guesswork. It seemed likely, or at least right, that he should
achieve somehow the final damnation of the Gentiles--the Romans, and
the rest of us--but nothing was very clear. In the meantime, if God
was going to damn the Gentiles in the next world, why should not the
Jews do it in this? Human nature has only too ready an answer for
such a question--as we can read in too many dark pages of history,
in the stories of wars and religious persecutions.

The uncertainty about God in Judaism reacted on life and made it

Even the virtues of men were difficult; they were apt to be
nerveless and uncertain, because their aim was uncertain, and they
wanted inspiration. Of course there are always kindly hearts; but a
man will never put forth quite his best for an uncertainty. There
was a want of centre about their virtues, a want of faith, and as a
result they were too largely self-directed.[19]

A man was virtuous in order to secure himself in case God should be
awkward. There was no sufficient relation between man and God. God
was judge, no doubt; but his character could be known from his
attitude to the Gentiles. Could a man count on God and how far?
Could he rely on God supporting him, on God wishing to have him in
this world and the next? No, not with any certainty. It comes to a
fundamental unbelief in God, resting, as Jesus saw, on an essential
misconception of God's nature; and this resulted in the spoiling of
life. Men did not use God. "Where your treasure is, there will your
heart be also," Jesus said (Luke 12:34); and it was not in God.
Men's interest and belief were elsewhere.

Now the first thing that Jesus had to do, as a teacher, was to
induce men to rethink God. Men, he saw, do not want precepts; they
do not want ethics, morals or rules; what they do need is to rethink
God, to rediscover him, to re-explore him, to live on the basis of
relation with God. There is one striking difference between
Christianity and the other religions, in that the others start with
the idea that God is known. Christians do not so start. We are still
exploring God on the lines of Jesus Christ--rethinking God all the
time, finding him out. That is what Jesus meant us to do. If Jesus
had merely put before men an ethical code, that would have been to
do what the moralists had done before him--what moralists always do,
with the same naive idea that they are doing a great deal for us.
His object was far more fundamental.

The first thing was to bring people on to the very centre and to get
there at once--to get men away from the accumulation of occasional
and self-directed virtues, from the self-sustained life, from
self-acquired righteousness, and to bring them to face the fact of
God, to realize the seriousness of God and of life, and to see God.
When he preached self-denial, he did not mean the modern virtue of
self-denial with all its pettinesses, but a genuine negation of
self, a total forgetfulness of self by having the mind set entirely
on God and God's purposes, a readjustment of everything with God as
the real centre of all. This is always difficult; it is not less
difficult where the conception of God is, as it was with Jesus,
entirely spiritual. The whole experience of mankind was against the
idea that there could be a religion at all without priest,
sacrifice, altar, temple, and the like. There is a very minimum of
symbol and cult in the teaching of Jesus--so little that the ancient
world thought the Christians were atheists, because they had no
image, no temple, no sacrifice, no ritual, nothing that suggested
religion in the ordinary sense of the word. We shall realize the
difficulty of what Jesus was doing when we grasp that he meant
people to see God independently of all their conventional aids. To
lead them to commit themselves in act to God on such terms was a
still more difficult thing. To believe in God in a general sort of
way, to believe in Providence at large, is a very different thing
from getting yourself crucified in the faith that God cares for you,
and yet somehow wishes you to endure crucifixion. How far will men
commit themselves to God? Jesus means them to commit themselves to
God right up to the hilt--as Bunyan put it, "to hazard all for God
at a clap." Decision for God, obedience to God, that is the prime
thing--action on the basis of God and of God's care for the

His purpose that this shall not be merely the religion of choice
spirits or of those immediately around him, but shall be the one
religion of all the world, makes the task still vaster. He means not
merely to touch the Jews. Whether he says so in explicit terms or
not, it is implied in all that he says and does, that the new
movement should be far wider than anything the world had ever seen;
it was to cover the whole of mankind. He meant that every individual
in all the world should have the centre of gravity of his thinking

Again, he had to think of a re-creation of the language of men, till
God should be a new word. Our constant problem is to give his word
his value, his meaning. He meant that men should learn their
religious vocabulary again, till the words they used should suggest
his meanings to their minds. Something of this was achieved, when
some of his disciples came to him and said: "Teach us to pray, as
John also taught his disciples" (Luke 11:1). Further, he had to
secure that men should begin the rethinking of all life--personal,
social, and national--from the very foundations, on new lines--what
is called a transvaluation of all values. With a new centre,
everything has to be thought out anew into what St. Paul calls the
fullness of Christ (Eph. 4:13). Then finally the question comes, how
to secure continuity? Will the movement outlast his personal
influence? These are his problems--large enough, every one of them.
How does he face them?

The Gospel began with friendship, and we know from common life what
that is, and how it works. Old acquaintance and intimacy are the
heart of it. The mind is on the alert when we meet the
stranger--quick and eager to master his outlook and his ways of
thought, to see who and what he is--it is critical, self-protective,
rather than receptive. But, as time goes on, we notice less, we
study the man less as we see more of him. Yet, in this easier and
more careless intercourse, when the mind is off guard, it is
receiving a host of unnoticed impressions, which in the long run may
have extraordinary influence. Pleasant and easy-going, a perpetual
source of interest and rest of mind, the friendship continues, till
we find to our surprise that we are changed. Stage by stage, as one
comes to know one's friend, by unconscious and freely given
sympathy, one lives the other man's life, sees and feels things as
he does, slips into his language, and, by degrees, into his
thoughts--and then wakes up to find oneself, as it were, remade by
the other's personality, so close has been the identification with
the man we grew to love. This is what we find in our own lives; and
we find it in the Gospels.

A sentence from St. Augustine's Confessions gives us the key to the
whole story. "Sed ex amante alio accenditur alius" ("Confessions",
iv. 14, 911). "One loving spirit sets another on fire." Jesus brings
men to the new exploration of God, to the new commitment of
themselves to God, simply by the ordinary mechanism of friendship
and love. This, in plain English, is after all the idea of
Incarnation--friendship and identification. Jesus has a genius for
friendship, a gift for understanding the feelings of men. Look, for
example, at the quick word to Jairus. As soon as the message comes
to him that his daughter is dead, Jesus wheels round on him at once
with a word of courage (Mark 5:36). This quickness in understanding,
in feeling with people, marks him throughout. An instinctive care
for other people's small necessities is a great mark of friendship,
and Jesus has it. We find him saying to his disciples: "Come ye
yourselves apart privately into a desert place, and rest awhile"
(Mark 6:31). What a beautiful suggestion! He himself, it is clear
from the records, felt the need of privacy, of being by oneself, of
quiet; and he took his quiet hours in the open, in the wild, where
there was solitude and Nature, and there he would take his friends.
There were so many coming and going, that they had no leisure to
eat, and Jesus says to them in his friendly way: "Let us get out of
this--away by ourselves, to a quiet place; what you want is rest."
What a beautiful idea!--to go camping out on the hillside, under the
trees, to rest--and with him to share the quiet of the lonely place.
It is not the only time when he offers to give people rest--"Come
unto Me ... and I will give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). How strange,
when one thinks of the restless activity of Christian people to-day,
with typewriters and conventions, and every modern method of
consuming energy and time! How sympathetic he is!

We may notice again his respect for the reserve of other people. On
the whole, how slowly Jesus comes to work with men! He never
"rushes" the human spirit; he respects men's personalities. Men and
women are never pawns with him. He does not think of them in masses.
The masses appeal to him, but that is because he sees the individual
all the time. To one of his disciples he says, "I have prayed for
thee" (Luke 22:32). What a contrast to the conventional "friend of
man" in the abstract! With all that hangs upon him, he has leisure
to pray intensely, for a single man. It gives us an idea of his
gifts in friendship. His faith in his people is quite remarkable,
when we think of it. He believes in his followers; he shares with
them some of the deepest things in his life; he counts them fit to
share his thought of God. He makes it quite clear to them how he
trusts them. He puts before them the tremendous work that he has to
do--work more appalling in its vastness the more one studies it; and
then he tells them that he is trusting the whole thing with them.
What a faith it implies in their moral capacity! What acceptance of
the dim beginnings of the character that was to be Christian!
Someone has spoken of his "apparently unjustified faith in Peter."
What names he can give to his friends as a result of this faith in
them! "Ye are the light of the world," he says (Matt. 5:14), "the
salt of the earth." When we remind ourselves of his clear vision,
his genius for seeing fact, how much must such praises have meant to
these men!

Think how he gives himself to them in earnest; how he is at their
disposal. He is theirs; they can cross-question him at leisure; they
tell him that the Pharisees did not like what he said (Matt. 15:12),
they doubt with Peter the wisdom of his open speech (Mark 8:32);
they criticize him (Matt. 13:10). If they do not understand his
parable, they ask what he means (Matt. 15:15) and keep on asking
till he makes it plain. He is in no hurry. He is the Master and
their Teacher, and he is at the service of the slowest of them.

But there is another side to friendship; for one great part of it is
taking what our friends do for us, as well as doing things for them.
How he will take what they have to give! He lets them manage the
boat, while he sleeps (Mark 4:38), and go and prepare for him (Luke
9:52), and see to the Passover meal (Mark 14:13). The women, we
read, ministered to him of their substance (Luke 8:3). There is a
very significant phrase in St. Luke (22:28), where he says to them
at the end: "Ye are they that have continued with me in my
temptations." He tells them there that they have helped him. How?
Apparently by being with him. Is not that friendship? In the same
chapter (Luke 22:15) we find an utterance that reveals the depth of
his feeling for his friends: "With desire I have desired (a Greek
rendering of a Semitic intensive) to eat this Passover with you
before I suffer." They are to help him again by being with him, and
he has longed for it, he says. The Gospel of John sums up the whole
story in a beautiful sentence: "Jesus, having loved his own which
were in the world, loved them unto the end" (John 13:1). Augustine
is right. "One loving spirit sets another on fire."

Note again the word which he uses in speaking to them ("Tekna": Mark
2:5, 10:24). It is a diminutive, a little disguised as "children" in
our English version. It reappears in the Fourth Gospel in even more
diminutive forms ("Teknia", 13:33; Paidia, 21:5) with a peculiarly
tender suggestion. The word of Mark answers more closely than
anything I know to "Boys," as we used it in the Canadian
Universities. "Men," or "Undergraduates," is the word in the English
Universities; "Students," in Scotland and in India; in Canada we
said "Boys"; and I think we get nearer, and like one another better,
with that easy name. And it was this friendly, pleasant word, or one
very like it, that he used with them. Nor is it the only one of the
kind. "Fear not, little flock!" he said (Luke 12:32). Do not the
diminutives mean something? Do they not take us into the midst of a
group where friendship is real? And in the centre is the friendliest
figure of all.

Look for a moment at the men who followed him; at the type he calls.
They are simple people in the main--warm hearts and impulsive
natures. The politics of Simon the Zealot might at one time have
been summed up as "the knife and plenty of it," a simple and direct
enough type of political thought, in all conscience, however
hopeless and ineffectual, as history showed; but he gave up his
politics for the friendship of Jesus. Peter, again, is the champion
example of the impulsive nature. Why Jesus called James and John
"the sons of thunder" (Mark 3:17) I am not sure. Dr. Rendel Harris
thinks because they were twins; other people find something of the
thunderstorm in their ideas and outlook. The publican in the group
is of much the same type; he is ready to leave his business and his
custom-house at a word--once more the impulsive nature and the
simple. It is possible that Jesus looked also to another type of
which he gained very little in his lifetime; for he speaks of "the
scribe who has turned disciple again, and brings out of his treasure
things new and old" (Matt. 13:52)--the more complicated type of the
trained scholar, full of old learning, but open to new views. In the
meantime he draws to him people with the warm heart--yes, he says,
but cultivate the cool head (cf. Matt. 10:16). Again and again he
will have men "count the cost" (Luke 14:28)--know what they are
doing, be rid of delusions before they follow him (Mark 8:34). What
did they expect? They had all sorts of dreams of the future. When we
first find them, there is friction among them, which is not
unnatural in a group of men with ambitions (Mark 9:33. 10:37). Even
at the Last Supper their minds run on thrones (Luke 22:24). They are
haunted by taboos. Peter long after boasts that nothing common or
unclean has entered his lips (Acts 10:14). They fail to understand
him. "Are ye also without understanding?" he asks, not without
surprise (Mark 8:17, 21). At the very end they run away.

There, then, is the group. What is to be the method? There is not
much method. As Harnack says about the spread of the early Church,
"A living faith needs no special methods"--a sentence worth
remembering. "Infinite love in ordinary intercourse" is another
phrase of Harnack in describing the life of the early Church. It
began with Jesus. He chose twelve, says Mark (3:14), "that they may
be with him." That is all. And they are with him under all sorts of
circumstances. "The Son of Man hath not where to lay his head" (Luke
9:58). They saw him in privation, fatigued, exhausted. With every
chance to see weaknesses in his character, they did not find much
amiss with him. That is surely significant. They lived with him all
the time, in a genuine human friendship, a real and progressive
intimacy. They were with him in popularity and in unpopularity; they
were with him in danger, when Herod tried to kill him and he went
out of Herod's territory. But friendship depends not only on great
moments; it means companionship in the trivial, too, it means idle
hours together, partnership in commonplace things--meals and
garden--chairs as well as books and crises. Ordinary life, ordinary
talk, gossip, chat, every kind of conversation about Herods and
Roman governors, and the Zealots--custom-house memories, tales of
the fishermen's life on the lake, stories of neighbours and
home--rumours about the Galileans who were murdered by Pilate (Luke
13:1-4)--all the babbling talk of the bazaar is round Jesus and his
group, and some of it breaks in on them; and his attitude to it all
is to these men a constant revelation of character. They are with
him in the play of feelings, with him in the fluxes and refluxes of
his thought--learning his ways of mind without realizing it. They
slip into his mind and mood, by a series of surprises, when they are
imagining no such thing. Anything, everything serves to reveal him.
They tramp all day, and ask some village people to shelter them for
the night. The villagers tell them to go away. The men are hungry
and fatigued. "What a splendid thing it would be, if we could do
like Elijah and burn them up with a word!" So the hot thought rose.
He turned and said, "You know not what manner of spirit you are
of."--What a gentle rebuke! "The Son of Man is not come to destroy
men's lives, but to save them" (Luke 9:51-56). Then follows one of
the wonderful sentences of the Gospel, "they went unto another
village"--very obvious, but very significant. A missionary from
China told me how, thirty years ago or more, he was driven out of
the town where he lived; how the gentlefolk egged on the mob, and
they wrecked his house, and hounded him out of the place. He told me
how it felt--the misery and the indignity of it. Jesus took it
undisturbed. He taught a lesson in it which the Church has never

Their life was full of experiences shared with him. He has his
reserve--his secret; yet, in another sense, he gives himself to them
without reserve; there is prodigality of self-impartation in his
dealings with them. He lets them have everything they can take. He
becomes theirs in a great intimacy, he gives himself to them. Why?
Because he believes, as he put it, in seed. Socrates saw that the
teacher's real work, his only work, is to implant the idea, like a
seed; an idea, like a seed, will look after itself. A king builds a
temple or a palace. The seed of a banyan drifts into a crack, and
grows without asking anyone's leave; there is life in it. In the end
the building comes down, but for what the banyan holds up. The
leaven in the meal is the most powerful thing there. There is very
little of it, but that does not matter; it is alive (Matt. 13:33).
Life is a very little thing but it is the only thing that counts.
That is why the farmer can sow his fields and sleep at nights
without thinking of them; and the crop grows in spite of his
sleeping, and he knows it (Mark 4:26). That is why Jesus believes so
thoroughly in his men, and in his message; God has made the one for
the other, and there is no fear of mischance.

Look at his method of teaching. People "marvelled at his words of
charm" (Luke 4:22)--"hung about him to hear him" (Luke 19:48). He
said that the word is the overflow of the heart. "Out of the
abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matt. 12:34; Luke 6:45).
What a heart, then, his words reveal! How easy and straightforward
his language is! To-day we all use abstract nouns to convey our
meaning; we cannot do without words ending in -ality and -anon. But
there is no recorded saying of Jesus where he uses even
"personality." He does not use abstract nouns. He sticks to plain
words. When he speaks about God he does not say "the Great First
Cause," or "Providence," or any other vague abstract. Still less
does he use an adverb from the abstract, like "providentially." He
says, "your heavenly Father." He does not talk of "humanity"; he
says, "your brethren." He has no jargon, no technical terms, no
scholastic vocabulary. He urges men not to over-study language;
their speech must be simple, the natural, spontaneous overflow of
the heart.[20] Jesus told his disciples not to think out beforehand
what they would say when on trial (Mark 13:11)--it would be "given"
to them. He was perfectly right; and when Christians obeyed him,
they always spoke much better than when they thought out speeches
beforehand. They said much less for one thing, and they said it much
better. Take the case of the martyr--an early and historical
one--whose two speeches were during her trial "Christiana sum" and,
on her condemnation, "Deo gratias".

With this, remark his own gift of arresting phrase; the freshness of
his language, how free it is from quotation, how natural and how
extraordinarily simple. Everything worthwhile can be put in simple
language; and, if the speech is complicated, it is a call to think
again. "As a woman, over-curiously trimmed, is to be mistrusted, so
is a speech," said John Robinson of Leyden, the minister of the
Pilgrim Fathers. The language of Jesus is simple and direct, the
inevitable expression of a rich nature and a habit of truth. You
feel he does not strain after effect--epigram, antithesis, or
alliteration. Of course he uses such things--like all real
speakers--but he does not go out of his way for them. No, and so
much the more significant are such characteristic antitheses as: "Ye
cannot serve God and mammon" (Luke 16:13), and "Whosoever will save
his life shall lose it" (Matt. 16:25), coming with a spontaneous
flash, and answering in their sharpness to the sharp edges of fact.
His words caught the attention, and lived in the memory; they
revealed such a nature; they were so living and unforgettable.

Remark once again his preference for the actual and the ordinary.
There are religions in which holiness involves unusual conditions
and special diet. Some forms of mysticism seem to be incompatible
with married life. But the type of holiness which Jesus teaches can
be achieved with an ordinary diet, and a wife and five children. He
had lived himself in a family of eight or nine. It is perhaps
harder, but it is a richer sanctity, if the real mark of a Saint is,
as we have been told, that he makes it easier for others to believe
in God. In any case the ordinary is always good enough with Jesus.
Only he would have men go deeper, always deeper. Why can you not
think for yourselves? he asks. Signs were what men demanded. He
pictures Dives' mind running on signs even in hell (Luke 16:27).
"What could you do with signs? Look at what you have already. You
read the weather for to-morrow by looking at the sky to-day. The
south wind means heat; the red sky fair weather. Study, look, think"
(Luke 12:55). His animals, as we saw, are all real animals; it is
real observation; real analogy. When he speaks of the lost sheep, it
is not a fictitious joy that he describes or an imaginary one; it is
real. The more we examine his sayings with any touch of his spirit,
the more we wonder. Of course it is possible to handle them in the
wrong way, to miss the real thought and make folly of everything.
Thus, when he says he is the door, the interpreter may stray into
silly detail and make faith the key, and--I don't know what the
panels and hinges could be. That is not the style of Jesus. The soul
of the thing, the great central meaning, the real analogy is his
concern. Seriousness in observation, seriousness in reflection, is
what he teaches. Men and women break down for want of thinking
things out. Many things become possible to those who think
seriously, as he did--and, so to speak, without watertight

Jesus is always urging seriousness in reflection. Seriousness in
action, too, is one of his lessons--an emphasis on doing, but on
_doing_ with a clear sense of what one is about, and why. A part of
action is clear thought; always exactness, accuracy; you must think
the thing out, he says, and then act or let it alone. The artistic
temperament, we all know, is very much in evidence to-day. In "The
Comments of Bagshot" we are told that the drawback is that there is
so much temperament and so little art. Why? Because the artistic
temperament means so little by itself. It is one of the secrets of
Jesus, that it is action that illuminates. What is it that makes the
poem? The poet sees beggar children running races, or little Edward
and the weather-cock, or something greater if you like--the light on
a woman's hair, or a flower; and you say, he has his poem. He has
not. He must work at the thing. When we study the great poets, we
realize how these things are worked out to the point of nerve-strain
and exhaustion. The poet devotes himself heart and soul to the work;
he alters this and that, once and again; he sees a fresh aspect of
the thing, and he alters all again; he writes and rewrites, getting
deeper and deeper into the essential values of the thing all the
time. Where in all this is the artistic temperament? It gave him the
impulse, but something else achieves the work of art. I have a
feeling that the great works of art are achieved by the shopkeeper
virtues in addition to the artistic temperament that sees and feels
them at the beginning. It is action that gives the value of a
thought. Jesus sees that. He says that frankly to his disciples. If
you want to understand in the long run, it is carrying the cross
that will teach you the real values.

I have been treating him almost as if he were an authority on
pedagogy. Fortunately, he never discussed pedagogy, never used the
terms I have been using. But he dealt with men, he taught and he
influenced them, and it is worth our study to understand how he did
it--to master his methods. "One loving spirit sets another on fire."
As for the effects of his words at once, as Seeley put it, they were
"seething effervescence . . . broodings, resolutions, travail of
heart." Men were brought face to face with a new issue; it was a
time of choice; things would not be as they were men must be "with
him or against him"--must accept or reject the new teaching, the new
teacher, the new life. As he said, "I came to send fire on the
earth" (Luke 12:49), to divide families, to divide the individual
soul against itself, till the great choice was made; and so it has
always been, where men have really seen him. We have to notice
further the transformation of the disciples, who definitely accepted
him. "Very wonderful to me," wrote Phillips Brooks, "to see how the
disciples caught his method." The promise was made to them that they
should become fishers of men (Mark 1:17), and it was fulfilled.
Jesus made them strong enough to defy the world and to capture the
world. There is something attractive about them; they have his
secret, something of his charm; they are magnetic with his power. A
new impulse to win men marks them, a new power to do it, a new faith
which grows in significance as you study it--the faith of William
Carey, a hundred years ago, was the same thing--a perfectly
incredible faith, that they actually will win men for God and
Christ. And they did--and along his lines and by his methods of
love--even for Gentiles. "Woe is me, if I preach not the Gospel,"
says St. Paul (1 Cor. 9:16), who to preach the Gospel shipwrecked
his life and suffered the loss of all things (Phil. 3:8). But these
men are sure that it is worthwhile. They have a new passion for men
and women--an interest not merely in the saving of their souls but
in every real human need. The early Church made a point of teaching
men trades when they had none. They learnt all this from him. The
greatest miracle in history seems to me the transformation that
Jesus effected in those men. Everything else in Christian or secular
history, compared to it, seems easy and explicable; and it was
achieved by the love of Jesus.

The Church spread over the world without social machinery. The
Gospel was preached instinctively, naturally. The earliest
Christians were persecuted in Jerusalem, and were driven out. I
picture one of them in flight; on his journey he falls in with a
stranger. Before he knows what he is doing, he is telling his fellow
traveller about Jesus. It follows from his explanation of why he is
on the road; he warms up as he speaks. He never really thought about
the danger of doing so. And the stranger wants to know more; he is
captured by the message, and he too becomes a Christian. And then
this involuntary preacher of the Gospel is embarrassed to learn that
the man is a Gentile; he had not thought of that. I think that is
how it began--so naturally and spontaneously. These people are so
full of love of Jesus that they are bound to speak (Acts 8:4). "One
loving heart sets another on fire."



It is worth taking some trouble to realize how profoundly Jesus has
changed the thinking of mankind about God. "Since Jesus lived," Dr.
Fairbairn wrote, "God has been another and nearer Being to man."
"Jesus," writes Dr. Fosdick, "had the most joyous idea of God that
ever was thought of." That joyous sense of God he has given to his
followers, and it stands in vivid contrast with the feelings men
have toward God in the other religions. Christianity is the religion
of joy. The New Testament is full of it.

We know the general character of Jesus' attitude to God, his feeling
for God, his sense of God's nearness. How immediate his knowledge of
God is, how intimate! Of course, here, as everywhere, his teaching
has such an occasional character--or else the records of it are so
fragmentary--that we must not press the absence of system in it; and
yet, I think, it would be right to say that Jesus puts before us no
system of God, but rather suggests a great exploration, an intimacy
with the slow and sure knowledge that intimacy gives. He has no
definition of God,[21] but he assumes God, lives on the basis of
God, interprets God; and God is discovered in his acts and his
relations. He said to Peter, in effect--for the familiar phrase
comes to this in modern English: "You think like a man; you don't
think like God" (Mark 8:33). Elsewhere he contrasts God's thoughts
with man's--their outlooks are so different "that which is highly
esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15;
the Greek words are very interesting). In other words, he would have
men see all things as God sees them. That we do not so see them,
remains the weak spot in our thinking. What Luther said to Erasmus
is true of most of us: "Your thoughts concerning God are too human."
"Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall _see_ God," said
Jesus (Matt. 5:8), and throughout he emphasizes that the vision of
God depends on likeness to God--it is love and a glowing purity that
give that faculty, rather than any power of intellect apart from
them. Jesus brings men back to the ultimate fact. Our views are too
short and too narrow. He would have us face God, see him and realize
him--think in the terms of God, look at things from God's point of
view, live in God and with God. In modern phrase, he breaks up our
dogmatism and puts us at a universal point of view to see things
over again in a new and true perspective.

How and where did he begin himself? Whence came his consciousness of
God, his gift for recognizing God? We do not know. The story of his
growth, his inward growth, is almost unrevealed to us. We are told
that he learnt "by the things which he suffered" (Heb. 5:8), and
that he "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and
man" (Luke 2:52). Where does anyone begin, who takes us any great
distance? It is very hard to know. Where did our own thoughts of God
begin? What made them? How did they come? There is an inherited
element in them, but how much else? Whence came the inherited
element? How is it that to another man, with the same upbringing as
ours, everything is different, everything means more? Remark, at any
rate, in the teaching of Jesus, that there is no mysticism of the
type so much studied to-day. There is nothing in the least
"psychopathic" about him, nothing abnormal--no mystical vision of
God, no mystical absorption in God, no mystical union with God, no
abstraction, nothing that is the mark of the professed mystic. Yet
he speaks freely of "seeing God"; he lives a life of the closest
union with God; and God is in all his thoughts. A phrase like that
of Clement of Alexandria, "deifying into apathy we become monadic,"
is seas away from anything we find in the speech of Jesus. That is
not the way he preaches God. He is far more natural; and that his
followers accepted this naturalness, and drew him so, and gave his
teaching as he gave it, is a fresh pledge of the truthfulness of the

Again, his knowledge of God is not a matter of quotation, as ours
very often tends to be. He is conscious always of the real nearness
of God. He seems to wonder how it is that man can forget God. We do
forget God. Augustine in his "Confessions" (iv. 12, 18) has to tell
us that "God did not make the world and then go away." The practical
working religion of a great many of us rests on a feeling that God
is a very long way off. Our practical steps betray that we half
think God did go away, when he had made the world. Prayer to us is
not a real thing--it is not intercourse face to face; far too often
it is like conversation over a telephone wire of infinite length
which gets out of order. Even if words travel along that wire, there
is so much "buzzing" that they are hardly recognizable. No, says
Jesus, God is near, God is here--so near, that Jesus never feels
that men have any need of a priesthood to come between, or to help
them to God; God does all that. There is no common concern, no
matter of food or clothing, no mere detail of the ordinary round of
common duty and common life--father and mother, son, wife,
friend--nothing of all that, but God is there; God knows about it;
God is interested in it; God has taken care of it; God is enjoying
it. How is it that men can "reject the counsel of God," refuse God's
plans and ideas (Luke 7:30)? How is it that they forget God
altogether? Jesus is surprised at the dullness of men's minds (Mark
8:17); it is a mystery to him. The rich fool, as we call him, though
it is hard to see why we should call him a fool, when he is so like
ourselves, had forgotten God somehow, and was startled when God
spoke, and spoke to him. That story, seen so often among men,--the
story of the thorns choking the seed (Matt. 13:22)--makes Jesus
remark on the difficulty which a rich man finds in entering into the
kingdom of God.

God knows--that is what Jesus repeats, God cares; and God can do
things; his hands are not tied by impotence. The knowledge of God is
emphasized by Jesus; "Even the very hairs of your head are all
numbered" (Matt. 10:30); "your Father knoweth" (Luke 12:30); "seeth
in secret" (Matt. 6:4); "knoweth your hearts" (Luke 16:15); knows
your struggles, knows your worries, knows your worth; God knows all
about you. And "all things are possible with God" (Matt. 19:26).
There is nothing that he cannot do, nothing that he will not do, for
his children. Will a father refuse his child bread; will God not
give what is good? (Matt. 7:11). Is it too big a thing for the Giver
of Life to give food--which is the more difficult thing to give?
(Luke 12:23). Look at God, as Jesus draws him--interested in
flowers; God takes care of them, and thinks about their colours, so
that even "Solomon in all his glory" is not equal to them (Matt.
6:30). God knows the birds in the nest--knows there is one fewer
there to-day than there was yesterday (Matt. 10:29). God cares for
them; how much more will he care for you (Matt. 6:26)? "Ye are of
more value than many sparrows" (Matt. 10:31). And God thinks out
man's life in all its relations, and provides for it. Society moves
on lines he laid down for it; his plans underlie all. Thus, when
Jesus is challenged on the question of marriage and divorce, with
that clear thought and eye of his, he goes right back to God's
intent--not to man's usage, not to the common law and practice of
nations, but to God's intent and God's meaning. God ordained
marriage; he thought it out (Matt. 19:4). Marriages will be better,
if we think of them in this way. God gave men their food, does
still, and all things that he gives are clean (Luke 11:41). We
cannot have taboos at our Father's table.

Over all is God's throne (Matt. 23:22). That idea, it seems to me,
lapses somehow from our minds to-day. When Luther had to face the
hostility of the Kaiser, the Emperor Charles V., he wrote to one of
his friends: "Christ comes and sits at the right hand--not of the
Kaiser, for in that case we should have perished long ago--but at
the right hand of God. This is a great and incredible thing; but I
enjoy it, incredible as it is; some day I mean to die in it. Why
should I not live in it?" So Luther wrote--in not quite our modern
vein. We hardly calculate on God as a factor; we omit him. Jesus did
not. God's rule is over all; and in all our perplexity, doubt, and
fear, Jesus reminds us that the first thing is faith in God. The
fact is that "Thine is the Kingdom" means peace; it is a joyous
reminder. For if he speaks of the Kingdom of God, the King is more
than the Kingdom. It is the Kingdom, the rule, of the God whom Jesus
teaches us to trust and to love. The Father is supreme. But that has
more aspects than one. If our Father is supreme for us, he is
supreme over us. Jesus emphasizes the will of God--God's commandment
against man's tradition, God's will against man's notions (Mark
7:8). What a source of rest and peace to him is the thought of God's
will! When Dante writes: "And His will is our peace," it is the
thought of Jesus. And at the same time God's judgements are as real
to Jesus' mind. "I will tell you," he says, "whom to fear, God--yes,
fear him!" (Luke 12:5). He feels the tenderness and the awfulness of
God at once.

In speaking of God, it is noticeable that Jesus chiefly emphasizes
God's interest in the individual, as giving the real clue to God's
nature. On the whole, there is very little even implied, still less
explicit, in the Gospels, about God as the great architect of
Nature--hardly anything on the lines familiar to us in the Psalms
and in Isaiah--"The sea is his, and he made it; and his hands formed
the dry land" (Psalm 95:5)--"He taketh up the isles as a very little
thing" (Isaiah 40:15). There is little of this in the Gospels; yet
it is implied in the affair of the storm (Matt. 8:26). The disciples
in their anxiety wake him. He does not understand their fear. Whose
sea is it? Whose wind is it? Whose children are you? Cannot you
trust your Father to control his wind and his sea? Of course it is
possible that he said more about God as the Author of Nature than
our fragmentary reports give us; but it may be that it is because
the emphasis on God's care and love for the individual is hardest to
believe, and at the same time best, gives the real value of God,
that Jesus uses it so much. Perhaps the Great Artificer is too far
away for our minds. He is too busy, we think; and yet, after all, if
God is so great, why should he be so busy? If he is a real Father,
why should not he be at leisure for his children? He is, says Jesus;
a friend has leisure for his friends, and a father for his children;
and God, Jesus suggests, always has leisure for you.

The great emphasis with Jesus falls on the love of God. Thus he
tells the story of the impossible creditor with two debtors (Luke
7:42). One owed him ten pounds, and the other a hundred. When they
had nothing to pay, they both came to him and told him so. The
ordinary creditor, at the very best, would say: "Well, I suppose I
must put it down as a bad debt." Jesus says that this creditor took
up quite another attitude. He smiled and said to his two troubled
friends: "Is that all? Don't let anything like that worry you. What
is that between you and me?" He forgave them the debt with such a
charm ("echarisato"), Jesus says, that they both loved him. One
feels that the end of the story must be, that they both paid him and
loved him all the more for taking the money. What a delightful story
of charm, and friendship and forgiveness! And it is a true picture
of God, Jesus would have us believe, of God's forgiveness and the
response it wakes in men.

If we do not definitely set our minds to assimilate the ideas of
Jesus, we shall make too little of the heart of God. With Jesus this
is the central and crucial reality. He emphasizes the generosity of
God. God makes his sun rise on the good and on the bad; he sends
rain on the just and the unjust (Matt. 5:45). God's flowers are just
as beautiful in the bad man's garden. God knows what his child
needs, and gives it, whether it is a very good child or a very bad
one. The Father is the same great wise Friend in either case. The
peacemakers are recognized as the children of God, because of their
family likeness to God (Matt. 5:9). They come among people, and find
them in discord with one another, and their presence stills that; or
they come into a man's life, when it is all in disorder and pain,
and they bring peace there. They may not quite know it, but they do
these things almost without meaning to do them. And Jesus says that
this is a family likeness by which men know they are God's children.
But it is not every teacher, pagan or Christian, who lays such
stress on God's gift of peace, or is so sure of it. He uses Hosea's
great saying about God--"I will have mercy and not sacrifice" (Hosea
6:6), as giving the truth about God. Matthew represents him as
quoting it twice (Matt. 9:13, 12:7); and we can well believe that he
found in it the real spirit of God and often referred to it. His own
heart has taken him to the tenderest of the utterances of the Old
Testament spoken by the most suffering of the Prophets. "Love your
enemies," he says (Matt. 5:44); yes, for then you will be the real
children of God. Or he speaks of the great patience of God, how God
gives every man all the time and all the chance that he
needs--sometimes, he half suggests, even a little more. Look at the
parable of the fig tree, how the gardener pleads for the tree, begs
and obtains another chance for it (Luke 13:8); that is like God,
says Jesus.

It is easy enough to talk in a vague way about the love of God. But
the love of God implies surely the individual; love has little
content indeed if its object is merely a collective noun, an
abstract, a concept. But that God loves individual men is very
difficult for us to believe in earnest. The real crux comes when the
question rises in a man's own heart, "Does God love me?" Jesus says
that he does, but it is very hard to believe, except in the company
of Jesus and under his influence. Jesus throughout asserts and
reasserts the value of the individual to God. Look, for example, at
the picture he draws, when he tells of the recovery of the Lost
Sheep, and brings out the analogy. At the end of the Book of Job
(ch. 38) the poet carries his reader back to the first sight of a
world new-made, and tells how God, like the real artist and
creator--we might not have thought of all this, but the poet
did--loves his work so much that he must have his friends sharing it
with him. He calls them; he shows them the world he has made--"the
beauty, and the wonder, and the power," as Browning says. The poet
tells us that what followed was that "the morning stars sang
together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy." The sight was so
good that song and shout came instinctively, almost involuntarily.
Is it not the same picture which Jesus draws of "joy in heaven in
the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth"?
We can believe in such joy when God made the world; but can we
believe that there was the same joy in the presence of God yesterday
when a coolie gave his heart to God? Jesus does. That is the central
thing, it seems to me, in his teaching about God--that God cares for
the individual to an extent far beyond anything we could think
possible. If we can wrestle with that central thought and assimilate
it, or, as the old divines said, "appropriate" it, make it our own,
the rest of the Gospel is easy. But one can never manage it except
with the help, and in the company, of Jesus.

Jesus goes a step further, and believes in the possibility of a man
loving God and God enjoying that too. If he speaks of prayer, must
we not think he means that God wants it as much as his child can
want it? How much is involved in the name "Father," which Jesus so
uniformly gives to God? Something less than the word carries in the
case of a human father, or more? What is the attitude of a father to
his child? Jesus, as we have seen, uses this illustration to bring
out God's care for the actual needs of his children. But is that
all? What is the innermost thing in a father's relation to his
children? Surely something more than the bird's instinct to feed her
young, or to gather them under her wings (Luke 13:34). Is not one of
the most real features of parenthood enjoyment of the child? Do not
men and women frankly enjoy the grappling of the little mind with
big things? Is there not a charm, as says one of the Christian
Fathers (Minucius Felix), about the "half-words" that a child uses,
as he learns to talk and wrestles with a grown-up vocabulary? About
the extraordinary pictures he will draw of ships or cows--the quaint
stories he will invent--the odd ways in which his gratitude and his
affection express themselves? Is it a real fatherhood where such
things do not appeal? Jesus' language about God, his whole attitude
to God, implies throughout that God is as real a Father as anybody,
and it suggests that God loves his children the more because they
are real; because they are not very clever; because they do make
such queer and imperfect prayers; because, in short, they need him;
and because they fill a place in his heart.

We have to remark how firmly Jesus believes in his Gospel of God and
man needing each other and finding each other--his "good news," as
he calls it. He bases all on his faith in what has been called
"Man's incurable religious instinct"--that instinct in the human
heart that must have God--and in God's response to that instinct
which he himself implanted, and which is no accident found here and
missing there, but a genuine God-given characteristic of every man,
whatever his temperament or his range in emotions may be, his
swiftness or slowness of mind. The repeated parables of seed and
leaven--the parables of vitality--again and again suggest his faith
in his message, his conviction that God must have man and man must
have God--that, as St. Augustine puts it, "Thou hast made us for
Thyself, and our heart knows no rest till it rests in Thee" (Conf.,
i. 1). That is the essence of the Gospel.

How this union of the soul with God comes about, Jesus does not
directly say, but there are many hints in his teaching that bear
upon it. "The Kingdom of Heaven cometh not with observation," he
said (Luke 17:20). Religious truth is not reached by "quick turns of
self-applauding intellect," nor by demonstrations. It comes another
way. The quiet familiarity with the deep true things of life, till
on a sudden they are transfigured in the light of God, and truth is
a new and glowing thing, independent of arguments and the strange
evidence of thaumaturgy--this is the normal way; and Jesus holds by
it. The great people, men of law and learning, want more; they want
something to substantiate God's messages from without. If Jesus
comes to them with a word from God, can he not prove its
authenticity preferably with "a sign from the sky" (Mark 8:11)? For
the signs he gives, and the evidence he suggests, are
unsatisfactory. "And he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, `Why
doth this generation seek after a sign? Verily I say unto you, there
shall no sign be given unto this generation.' So he left them and
went up into the ship again and went away." That scene is drawn from

But why no sign? In the parallel passage we read: "`The wicked
generation and adulterous seeketh a sign, but there shall no sign be
given it, but the sign of the prophet Jonah'; so he left them and
departed" (Matt. 16:4). The real explanation of this reference to
Jonah is given by Luke (11:32), and missed or misdeveloped in
Matthew (Matt. 12:40). Nineveh recognized instinctively the inherent
truth of Jonah's message, and repented. Truth is its own
evidence--like leaven in the meal, like seed in the field, it does
its work, and its life reveals it. God is known that way. When the
chief priests demand of Jesus to be told plainly what is his
authority (Mark 11:27), he carries the matter a stage further: Was
the baptism of John, he asks, from heaven, i.e. from God, or was it
of men? Does God make His message clear, does He properly
authenticate Himself? And the uneasy weighing of alternatives,
summarized by the evangelist, leads to the answer that they could
not tell whence it was; and Jesus rejoins that he has nothing to say
to them about his authority. He had taken what we might call an easy
case--where it was evident that God had spoken; and this was all
they made of it--they "could not tell." It was plain, then, either
that these men did not recognize the obvious message of God ("the
word of God came upon John," Luke 3:9,), or that, if they did
recognize it, they thought it did not matter. For the insincere and
the trivial there is no message from God, no truth of God--how
should there be?

If we pursue this line of thought, we can see how, in Jesus'
opinion, a man may be sure of God and of God's word for him. If a
man be candid with himself, if he face the common facts of life with
seriousness and in the doing of duty, perplexities vanish. Such a
man is prepared for the Great Fact, by faithfulness to the little
facts, and then God dawns on him in them. This is put directly in
the Fourth Gospel (7:17), and in parable in the Synoptists. The
leaven works, till the whole is leavened; the uneasy process is over
and the result achieved. Or, it comes more quietly still--the seed
grows while the farmer sleeps and rises, night and day; the blade
springs up and the ear forms on the blade, the seed grows in the
ear; and the end is reached and God's Kingdom is a reality. Or, the
knowledge of God comes like a lightning flash--sudden, illuminative,
decisive. "The Son reveals" God to the simple, Jesus said (Matt.
11:27). The Son of Man may be a disputable figure--"Whosoever
speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him"
(Matt. 12:32)--but there is no forgiveness in this world, or in any
possible real world where God counts at all, for the refusal of the
spirit of Truth. So he taught, and all history shows he was
right--the refusal of truth is fatal. "Jesus," wrote Matthew Arnold,
"never touches theory, but bases himself invariably upon
experience." It is to experience that Jesus goes to authenticate his
message. The real facts of life lead you to God, as the red sky, and
the south wind, teach you to foretell the weather (Matt. 16:2; Luke

"Eyes and ears," said the Greek thinker, Heraclitus, long before,
"are bad witnesses for such as have barbarian souls." The Pharisees
discredited Jesus--he "cast out devils by Beelzebub." Did he, he
asked, or was it "by the finger of God" (Luke 11:20)? Is there no
evidence of God in restored sanity? But the strength of his position
lies in the good news for the poor (Matt. 11:5), for those who
labour and are heavy--laden (Matt. 11:28)--news of rest and
refreshment--as if the intuition of God, with the peace it brings,
were its own proof. Truth is reached less by ingenuity than by
intensity. To the simple mind, to the true heart, to the pure soul
(Matt. 5:8), to those whose gift is peace, Truth comes flooding
in--new light on old fact, and new light from old fact--and God is
evident. So Jesus judged; and here again, before we decide for or
against his view, we have to make sure that we know his meaning, and
realize the experience by which he reached his thought. And then,
perhaps, God will be more evident to us in our turn. "The Kingdom of
God cometh not with observation" (Luke 17:20)--it is "within" (Luke
17:21); so quietly it comes, that we may not guess how in any
particular instance the realization of God came to a soul; but if we
are candid and truth-loving we can know it when it has come to
ourselves, and we can recognize it when it comes to another. We can
recognize it in its power and peace, we can see the greatness of the
new knowledge in the new man it makes, in the new life, the man of
the great spirit, of the great action, the man of the great quiet,
the man who has the peace of God.

What does the discovery of God mean? Jesus himself speaks of a man
turning right about, being converted (Matt. 18:3); of the revision
of all ideas, of all standards, of all values. He gives us two
beautiful pictures to illustrate what it means; and it repays us to
linger over them. First, there is the Treasure Finder. He is in the
country, digging perhaps in another man's field, or idling in the
open; and by accident he stumbles on a buried treasure. Palestine
was like Belgium--a land with a long history of wars fought on its
soil by foreigners, Babylon or Assyria against Egypt, Ptolemies
against Seleucids. It was the only available route for attack either
on Egypt by land, or on Syria or Mesopotamia or Babylon from the
Southern Mediterranean. In such a land when the foreign army marched
through, a man had best hide his treasure and hope to find it again
in better times, and again and again the secret of its place of
burial died with him. The Treasure Finder had no lord of the manor
to think of, no Treasury department. He made a great discovery, and
made it initially for himself, and his own--"and for joy thereof he
goeth and selleth all that he hath and buyeth that field." We can
see him full of his discovery, full of eagerness and trying to hide
his inner joy, as he realizes every penny he can manage, and
achieves the great transaction which gives him the field and the
treasure. The salient points are a sudden and great joy, an instant
resolution, a complete sacrifice of everything, and a life
unexpectedly and infinitely enriched. And so it is, says Jesus, with
the Kingdom of God (Matt. 13:44).

The Pearl Merchant is a more interesting figure. Perhaps we may
picture him middle-aged, a trifle worn, somewhat silent, a man of
keen eyes. He has been in his trade for years, and he is a master at
it. By now he has a knowledge which years give to a man in
earnest--a knowledge more like instinct than anything acquired. A
glance at pearls on a table--this, and this, and this he will take
the other, perhaps; he would look at that one--the rest? he shook
his head and did not look at them--he saw without looking. One day
he is told of a pearl--a good one. He is not surprised, for pearls
are always good when they are offered for sale. But again a glance
is enough. The price? Yes, it is high, but he will take the pearl,
but he must be allowed till evening to get the money. He goes away
and sells his stock--the little collection of pearls in his wallet,
representing "the experience of a life-time," all of them good, as
he very well knows; and he sells them for what he can get--at a
loss, if it must be. Yesterday's bargainer cuts down his price for
this and that pearl, and he is taken up; he never expected to do so
well against the old dealer, and he laughs. But the merchant is
content, too; he has sold all his pearls for what they would
fetch--lost money on them, yes, and been laughed at behind his back.
But he owns the one pearl of great price; it is his, and he is
satisfied. There is no reference to joy here or exultation; but
there is the same instant recognition of the opportunity, the same
resolve, the same sacrifice, and the same great acquisition (Matt.

Both parables begin with a reference to the Kingdom of God--to that
Rule and Kingship of God, the knowledge of which makes all the
difference to a man. A small grammatical difference points us beyond
minutiae to the common experience of the two men. Each makes a great
discovery, and takes action in a great and urgent resolve; and they
are both repaid. If we are to understand the two parables in the
sense intended by Jesus, the term "God" must become alive to us with
all the life and power and love that the name implies for him. Then
to grasp that this Father of Jesus is King--that the God of his
thoughts, of his faith, with all the tenderness and the power
combined that Jesus teaches us to see in Him--rules the universe,
controls our destiny and loves us--this is the experience that Jesus
compares with that of the Treasure Finder and the Pearl
Merchant--worth, he suggests, everything a man has, and more than

In passing, we may notice that these stories suggest that this
experience may be reached in different ways. In the parables of the
seed and the leaven he indicates a natural, quiet and unconscious
growth, a story without crisis, though full of change. To the
Treasure Finder the discovery is a surprise--how came Jesus so far
into the minds of men as to know what a surprise God can be, and how
joyful a surprise? The Pearl Merchant, on the other hand, has lived
in the region where he makes his discovery. He is the type that
lives and moves in the atmosphere of high and true thought, that
knows whatsoever things are pure and lovely and of good report, of
help and use; he is no stranger to great and inspiring ideas. And
one day, in no strange way, by no accident, but in the ordinary
round of life, he comes on something that transcends all he has been
seeking, all he has known--the One thing worth all. There is little
surprise about it, no wild elation, but nothing is allowed to stand
in the way of an instant entrance into the great experience--and the
great experience is, Jesus says, God.

To see God, to know God--that is what Jesus means--to get away from
"all the fuss and trouble" of life into the presence of God, to know
he is ours, to see him smile, to realize that he wants us to stay
there, that he is a real Father with a father's heart, that his love
is on the same wonderful scale as every one of his attributes, and
in reality far more intelligible than any of them. That is the
picture Jesus draws. The sheer incredible love of God, the wonderful
change it means for all life--that is his teaching, and he
encourages us, in the words of the Shorter Catechism, "to enjoy God
for ever," as Jesus himself does. Those who learn his secret enjoy
God in reality. Wherever they see God with the eyes of Jesus, it is
joy and peace. And they realize with deepening emotion that this
also is God's gift, as Jesus said (Luke 8:10; 12:39).

Jesus entirely recast mankind's common ideas of holiness. It is no
longer asceticism, no longer the mystical trance, no longer the
"fussiness," with which the early Christian reproached the Jew,
which still haunts all the religions of taboo and merit, and even
Christianity in some forms. Where men think of holiness as freedom
from sin, the negative conception reacts on life. They begin at the
wrong end. Solomon Schechter, the great Jewish scholar, once said of
Oxford, that "they practice fastidiousness there, and call it
holiness." Unfortunately Oxford has no monopoly of that type of
holiness. But with Jesus holiness is a much simpler and more natural
thing--as natural as the happy, easy life of father and child, and
it rests on mutual faith. It is Theocentric, positive, active rather
than passive--not a state, but a relation and a force. Holiness with
him is a living relation with the living God. That is why the first
feature in it that strikes us is Courage. "Be of good cheer; be not
afraid"; that note rings through the Gospels, and how much it means,
and has meant, in sweet temper and cheerfulness in the very
chequered history of the Church! His is the great voice of Hope in
the world. "The Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Hope," Paul said (1
Tim. 1:1). Even on the Cross, according to one text, Jesus said to
the penitent thief: "Courage! To-day thou shalt be with me in
paradise" (Luke 23:43). We may not know where or what paradise is,
but the rest is intelligible and splendid: "Courage; to-day thou
shalt be with me." Look at the brave hearts the Gospel has made in
every age; how venturesome they are! and we find the same
venturesomeness in Jesus--for instance, as a German scholar
emphasizes, in that episode of the daughter of Jairus. The messenger
comes and says she is dead. Anybody else would stop, but Jesus goes
on. That is a great piece of interpretation. Look again at his
venturesomeness in trusting the Gospel to the twelve and to us--and
in facing the Cross. "It was his knowledge of God," says Professor
Peabody, "that gave him his tranquillity of mind."[22]

"Jesus," says Dr. Cairns, "said that no one ever trusted God enough,
and that was the source of all the sin and tragedy." Look at his
emphasis again and again on faith; and the language is not that of
guesswork; they are the words of the great Son of Fact, who based
himself on experience. "Have faith in God" (Mark 11:22). "Be not
afraid, only believe" (Mark 5:36). "All things are possible to him
that believeth" (Mark 9:23). When he criticizes his disciples, it is
on the score of their want of faith--"O ye of little faith"--it has
been taken as almost a nickname for them. In the hour of trial and
danger they may trust to "the Spirit of your Father" (Matt. 10:20).
It is remarkable what value he attaches to faith even of the
slightest--"faith as a grain of mustard seed" (Matt. 17:90)--it is
little, but it is of the seed order, a living thing of the most
immense vitality with the promise of growth and usefulness in it.

This brings us to the question of Prayer. Some of us, of course, do
not believe very much in prayer for certain philosophical reasons,
which perhaps, as a matter of fact, are not quite as sound as we
think, because our definition of prayer is a wrong one, resting on
insufficient experience and insufficient reflection. What is prayer?

We shall agree that it is the act by which man definitely tries to
relate his soul and life to God. What Jesus then teaches on prayer
will illuminate what he means by God; and conversely his conception
of God will throw new light upon the whole problem of prayer. It is
plain history that Jesus, the great Son of Fact, believed in prayer,
told men to pray, and prayed himself. The Gospels and the Epistle to
the Hebrews lay emphasis on his practice. Early in the morning he
withdrew to the desert (Mark 1:35), late at night he remained on the
hillside for prayer (Mark 6:46). Wearied by the crowds that thronged
him, he kept apart and continued in prayer. He prays before he
chooses the disciples (Luke 6:12). He gives thanks to God on the
return of the seventy from their missionary journey (Luke 10:21).
Prayer is associated with the confession of Caesarea Philippi (Luke
9:18), with the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:29), with
Gethsemane (Luke 22:41). The writer to the Hebrews speaks of his
"strong crying and tears" (Heb. 5:7) in prayer. The Gospels even
mention what we should call his unanswered prayers. The prayer
before the calling of the Twelve does not exclude Judas; and the cup
does not pass in spite of the prayer in Gethsemane. It is as if we
had something to learn from the unanswered prayers of our Master.
Certainly the content of the Gospel for us would have been poorer if
they had been answered in our sense of the word; and this fact,
taken with his own teaching on prayer, and his own submission to the
Father's will, may help us over some of our difficulties. But Jesus
had no doubt or fear about prayer being answered. "Ask, and it shall
be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened
unto you" (Luke 11:9)--are not ambiguous statements in the least;
and they come from one "who based himself on experience." It is
worth thinking out that the experience of Jesus lies behind his
recommendation of prayer. All his clear-eyed knowledge of God speaks
in these plain sentences.

"As he was praying, they ask him, Teach us to pray, as John also
taught his disciples" (Luke 11:1). It looks as if at times his
disciples caught him at prayer or even overheard him, and felt that
here was prayer that took them out beyond all they had ever known of
prayer. There were men whom John had taught to pray; was it they who
asked Jesus to teach them over again? There may have been some of
them who had learnt the Pharisee's way in prayer, and some who stuck
to the simpler way they had been taught in childhood. In each case
the old ways were outgrown.

We can put together what he taught them. In the first place, the
thing must be real and individual--the first requirement always with
Jesus. The public prayer of ostentation is out of the reckoning; it
is nothing. Jesus chooses the quiet and solitary place for his
intercourse with his Father. The real prayer is to the Father in
secret--His affair. And it will be earnest beyond what most of us
think. We are so familiar with Gospel and parable that we do not
take in the strenuousness of Jesus' way in prayer. The importunate
widow (Luke 18:2) and the friend at midnight (Luke 11:5) are his
types of insistent and incessant earnestness. Do you, he asks, pray
with anything like their determination to be heard? The knock at the
door and the pleading voice continue till the request is granted--in
each case by a reluctant giver. But God is not reluctant, Jesus
says, though God, too, will choose his own time to answer (Luke
18:7). It does not mean the mechanical reiteration of the heathen
(Matt. 6:7)--not at all, that is not the business of praying; but
the steady earnest concentration on the purpose, with the deeper and
deeper clarification of the thought as we press home into God's
presence till we get there. It was so that he prayed, we may be
sure. It is not idly that prayer has been called "the greatest task
of the Christian man"; it will not be an easy thing, but a

One part of the difficulty of prayer is recognized by Jesus over and
over again. Men do not really quite believe that they will be
answered--they are "of little faith." But he tells them with
emphasis, in one form of words and another, driving it home into
them, that "all things are possible with God" (Mark 10:27)--"have
faith in God" (Mark 11:22). One can imagine how he fixes them with
the familiar steady gaze, pauses, and then with the full weight of
his personality in his words, and meaning them to give to his words
the full value he intends, says: "Have faith in God." To see him and
to hear him must have given that faith of itself. If the friend in
the house to your knowledge has the loaves, you will knock till you
get them; and has not God the gifts for you that you need? Is he
short of the power to help, or is it the will to help that is
wanting in God?

Once more the vital thing is Jesus' conception of God. Here, as
elsewhere, we sacrifice far more than we dream by our lazy way of
using his words without making the effort to give them his
connotation. To turn again to passages already quoted, will a father
give his son a serpent instead of the fish for which he asks, a
stone for bread? It is unthinkable; God--will God do less? It all
goes back again to the relation of father and child, to the love of
God; only into the thought, Jesus puts a significance which we have
not character or love enough to grasp. "Your Father knoweth that ye
have need of these things," he says about the matters that weigh
heaviest with us (Luke 12:30). Even if we suppose Luke's reference
to the Father giving the Holy Spirit to those who ask (Luke 11:13),
to owe something to the editor's hand--it was an editor with some
Christian experience--it is clear that Jesus steadily implies that
the heavenly Father has better things than food and clothing for his
children. How much of a human father is available for his children?
Then will not the heavenly Father, Jesus suggests, give on a larger
scale, and give Himself; in short, be available for the least
significant of His own children in all His fullness and all His
Fatherhood? And even if they do not ask, because they do not know
their need, will he not answer the prayers that others, who do know,
make for them? Jesus at all events made a practice of
intercession--"I prayed for thee," he said to Peter (Luke
22:32)--and the writers of the New Testament feel that it is only
natural for Jesus, Risen, Ascended, and Glorified, to make
intercession for us still (Rom. 8:34; Heb. 7:25).

We have again to think out what God's Fatherhood implies and carries
with it for Jesus.

"The recurrence of the sweet and deep name, Father, unveils the
secret of his being. His heart is at rest in God."[23] Rest in God
is the very note of all his being, of all his teaching--the keynote
of all prayer in his thought. "Our Father, who art in heaven," our
prayers are to begin--and perhaps they are not to go on till we
realize what we are saying in that great form of speech. It is
certain that as these words grow for us into the full stature of
their meaning for Jesus, we shall understand in a more intimate way
what the whole Gospel is in reality.

The writer to the Hebrews has here an interesting suggestion for us.
Using the symbolism of the Hebrew religion and its tabernacle, he
compares Jesus to the High Priest, but Jesus, he says, does not
enter into the holiest alone. "Having therefore, brethren, boldness
to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living
way, which he hath consecrated for us ... let us draw near with a
true heart in full assurance of faith" (Heb. 10:19). In the previous
chapter he discards the symbol and "speaks things"--"Christ is not
entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures
of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence
of God for us" (Heb. 9:24). There he touches what has been the faith
of the Church throughout--that in Christ we reach the presence of
God. Without saying so much in so many words, Jesus implies this in
all his attitude to prayer. God is there, and God loves you, and
loves to have you speak with him. No one has ever believed this very
much outside the radius of Christ's person and influence. It is,
when we give the words full weight, an essentially Christian faith,
and it depends on our relation to Jesus Christ.

Jesus was quite explicit with his friends in telling them they did
not know what to ask, but he showed them himself what they should
ask. "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness" (Matt.
6:33), he says, and tells us to pray for the forgiveness of our sins
and for deliverance from evil. Pray, too, "Thy kingdom come." "Pray
ye the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into
his harvest" (Matt. 9:38). This is perhaps the only place where he
asked his disciples to pray for his great work. Identification with
God's purposes--identification with the individual needs of those we
love and those we ought to love--identification with the world's sin
and misery--these seem to be his canons of prayer for us, as for
himself. For both in what he teaches others and in what he does
himself, he makes it a definite prerequisite of all prayer that we
say: "Thy will be done." Prayer is essentially dedication, deeper
and fuller as we use it more and come more into the presence of God.
Obedience goes with it; "we must cease to pray or cease to disobey,"
one or the other. If we are half-surrendered, we are not very bright
about our prayers, because we do not quite believe that God will
really look after the things about which we are anxious. We must
indeed go back to what Jesus said about God; we had better even
leave off praying for a moment till we see what he says, and then
begin again with a clearer mind.

"Ask, and ye shall receive," he says; and if we have no obedience,
or love, or faith, or any of the great things that make prayer
possible, he suggests that we can ask for them and have them. The
Gospel gives us an illustration in the man who prayed: "Lord, I
believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24). But it is plain we
have to understand that we are asking for great things, and it is to
them rather than to the obvious little things that Jesus directs our
thoughts. Not away from the little things, for if God is a real
Father he will wish to have his children talk them over with
him--"little things please little minds," yes, and great minds when
the little minds are dear to them--but not little things all the
time. There is a variant to the saying about seeking first the
Kingdom of Heaven, which Clement of Alexandria preserves. Perhaps it
is a mere slip, but God, it has been said, can use misquotations;
and Clement's quotation, or misquotation, certainly represents the
thought of Jesus, and it may give us a hint for our own practice:
"Ask," saith he, "the great things, and the little things will be
added unto you" (Strom. i. 158).

The object of Jesus was to induce men to base all life on God.
Short-range thinking, like the rich fool's, may lead to our
forgetting God; but Jesus incessantly lays the emphasis on the
thought-out life; and that, in the long run, means a new reckoning
with God. That is what Jesus urges--that we should think life out,
that we should come face to face with God and see him for what he
is, and accept him. He means us to live a life utterly and
absolutely based on God--life on God's lines of peacemaking and
ministry, the "denial of self," a complete forgetfulness of self in
surrender to God, obedience to God, faith in God, and the acceptance
of the sunshine of God's Fatherhood. He means us to go about things
in God's way--forgiving our enemies, cherishing kind thoughts about
those who hate us or despise us or use us badly (Matt. 5:44),
praying for them. This takes us right back into the common world,
where we have to live in any case; and it is there that he means us
to live with God--not in trance, but at work, in the family, in
business, shop, and street, doing all the little things and all the
great things that God wants us to do, and glad to do them just
because we are his children and he is our Father. Above all, he
would have us "think like God" (Mark 8:33); and to reach this habit
of "thinking like God," we have to live in the atmosphere of Jesus,
"with him" (Mark 3:14). All this new life he made possible for us by
being what he was--once again a challenge to re-explore Jesus. "The
way to faith in God and to love for man," said Dr. Cairns at Mohonk,
"is, as of old, to come nearer to the living Jesus."



When, on his last journey, Jesus came in sight of Jerusalem, Luke
tells us that he wept (Luke 19:41). There is an obvious explanation
of this in the extreme tension under which he was living--everything
turned upon the next few days, and everything would be decided at
Jerusalem; but while he must have felt this, it cannot have been the
cause of his weeping. Nor should we look for it altogether in the
appeal which a great city makes to emotion.

Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty.

Yet it was not the architecture that so deeply moved Jesus; the
temple, which was full in view, was comparatively new and foreign.
There is little suggestion in the Gospels that Art meant anything to
him, perhaps it meant little to the writers. As for the temple, he
found it "a den of thieves" (Luke 19:46); and he prophesied that it
would be demolished, and of all its splendid buildings, its goodly
stones and votive offerings, which so much impressed his disciples,
not one stone would be left upon another stone (Mark 13:9; Luke
21:5). But the traditions of Jerusalem wakened thoughts in him of
the story of his people, thoughts with a tragic colour. Jerusalem
was the place where prophets were killed (Luke 13:34), the scene and
centre, at once, of Israel's deepest emotions, highest hopes, and
most awful failures. "O Jerusalem! Jerusalem!" he had said in
sadness as he thought of Israel's holy city, "which killest the
prophets and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I
have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood
under her wings, and ye would not!" (Luke 13:34).

And now he is in sight of Jerusalem. The city and the temple
suddenly meet his view, as he reaches the height, and he is deeply
moved. Any reflective mind might well have been stirred by the
thought of the masses of men gathered there. Nothing is so futile as
an arithmetical numbering of people, for after a certain point
figures paralyse the imagination, and after that they tell the mind
little or nothing. But here was actually assembled the Jewish
people, coming in swarms from all the world, for the feast; here was
Judaism at its most pious; here was the pilgrim centre with all it
meant of aspiration and blindness, of simple folly and gross sin.
The sight of the city--the doomed city, as he foresaw--the thought
of his people, their zeal for God and their alienation from God--it
all comes over him at once, and, with a sudden rush of feeling, he
apostrophizes Jerusalem--"If thou hadst known, even thou, at least
in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now
they are hid from thine eyes . . . . Thou knewest not the time of
thy visitation!" (Luke 19:42-44).

It is quite plain from the Gospels that crowds had always an appeal
for Jesus. At times he avoided them; but when they came about him,
they claimed him and possessed him. Over and over again, we read of
his pity for them--"he saw a great multitude and was moved with
compassion toward them" (Matt. 14:14)--of his thought for their
weariness and hunger, his reflection that they might "faint by the
way" on their long homeward journeys (Mark 8:3), and his solicitude
about their food. Whatever modern criticism makes of the story of
his feeding multitudes, it remains that he was markedly sensitive to
the idea of hunger. Jairus is reminded that his little girl will be
the better for food (Mark 5:43). The rich are urged to make feasts
for the poor, the maimed and the blind (Luke 14:12). The owner of
the vineyard, in the parable, pays a day's wage for an hour's work,
when an hour was all the chance that the unemployed labourer could
find (Matt. 20:9). No sanctity could condone for the devouring of
widows' houses (Matt. 23:14).

The great hungry multitudes haunt his mind. The story of the rich
young ruler shows this (Mark 10:17-22). Here was a man of birth and
education, whose face and whose speech told of a good heart and
conscience--a man of charm, of the impulsive type that appealed to
Jesus. Jesus "looked on him," we read. The words recall Plato's
picture of Socrates looking at the jailer, how "he looked up at him
in his peculiar way, like a bull"--the old man's prominent eyes were
fixed on the fellow, glaring through the brows above them, and
Socrates' friends saw them and remembered them when they thought of
the scene. As Jesus' eyes rested steadily on this young man, the
disciples saw in them an expression they knew--"Jesus, looking on
him, loved him." Their talk was of eternal life; and, no doubt to
his surprise, Jesus asked the youth if he had kept the commandments;
how did he stand as regarded murder, theft, adultery? The steady
gaze followed the youth's impetuous answer, and then came the
recommendation to sell all that he had and give to the poor--"and,
Come! Follow me!" At this, we read in a fragment of the "Gospel
according to the Hebrews" (preserved by Origen), "the rich man began
to scratch his head, and it did not please him. And the Lord said to
him, `How sayest thou, "The law I have kept and the prophets?" For
it is written in the law, "thou shalt love thy neighbour as
thyself"; and behold! many who are thy brethren, sons of Abraham,
are clad in filth and dying of hunger, and thy house is full of many
good things, and nothing at all goes out from it to them.' And he
turned and said to Simon, his disciple, who was sitting beside him:
`Simon, son of John, it is easier for a camel to go through a
needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of
Heaven.'" We need not altogether reject this variant of the story.

But it was more than the physical needs of the multitude that
appealed to Jesus. "Man's Unhappiness, as I construe," says
Teufelsdroeckh in "Sartor Resartus", "comes of his Greatness, it is
because there is an Infinite in him, which with all his cunning he
cannot quite bury under the Finite. Will the whole Finance Ministers
and Upholsterers and Confectioners of modern Europe undertake, in
joint-stock company, to make one Shoeblack happy?" We read in a
passage, which it is true, is largely symbolic, that one of Jesus'
quotations from the Old Testament was that "Man shall not live by
bread alone" (Luke 4:4). Hunger is a real thing--horribly real; but
it is comparatively easy to deal with, and man has deeper needs. The
Shoeblack, according to Teufelsdroeckh, wants "God's infinite
universe altogether to himself." In the simpler words of Jesus, he
is never happy till he says, "I will arise and go to my Father"
(Luke 15:18).

This craving for the Father the men of Jesus' day tried to fill with
the law; and, when the law failed to satisfy it, they had nothing
further to suggest, except their fixed idea that "God heareth not
sinners" (John 9:31). They despaired of the great masses and left
them alone. They did not realize, as Jesus did, that the Father also
craves for his children. When Jesus saw the simpler folk thus
forsaken, the picture rose in his mind of sheep, worried by dogs or
wolves, till they fell, worn out--sheep without a shepherd (Matt.
9:36). Every one remembers the shepherd of the parable who sought
the one lost sheep until he found it, and how he brought it home on
his shoulders (Luke 15:5). But there is another parable, we might
almost say, of ninety and nine lost sheep--a parable, not developed,
but implied in the passage of Matthew, and it is as significant as
the other, for our Good Shepherd has to ask his friends to help him
in this case. The appeal that lay in the sheer misery and
helplessness of masses of men was one of the foundations of the
Christian Church. (The Good Shepherd, by the way, is a phrase from
the Fourth Gospel (John 10:11), but we think most often of the Good
Shepherd as carrying the sheep, and that comes from Luke, and is in
all likelihood nearer the parable of Jesus.)

It is worth noticing that Jesus stands alone in refusing to despair
of the greater part of mankind. Contempt was in his eyes the
unpardonable sin (Matt. 5:22). How swift and decisive is his anger
with those who make others stumble! (Luke 17:2). The parable of the
lost sheep reveals what he held to be God's feeling for the hopeless
man; and, as we have seen, his constant aim is to lead men to "think
like God." The lost soul matters to God. He sums up his own work in
the world in much the same language as he uses about the shepherd in
the parable: "The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which
is lost" (Luke 19:10). The taunt that he was the "friend of
publicans and sinners" really described what he was and wished to be
(Luke 7:34). God was their Heavenly Father. The sight, then, of the
masses of his countrymen, like worried sheep, worn, scattered, lost,
and hopeless, waked in him no shade of doubt--on the contrary, it
was further proof to him of the soundness of his message. Changing
his simile, he told his disciples that the harvest was great, but
the labourers few, and he asked them to pray the Lord of the harvest
to thrust forth labourers into His harvest (Matt. 9:38). The very
name "Lord of the harvest" implies faith in God's competence and
understanding. From the first, he seems to have held up before his
followers that this wide service was to be their work--"Come ye
after me," he said, "and I will make you to become fishers of men"
(Mark 1:17)--men, who should really "catch men" (Luke 5:10).

Like all for whom the world has had a meaning, Jesus, as we have
seen, accepted the necessary conditions of man's life. Human misery
and need were widespread, but God's Fatherhood was of compass fully
as wide, and Jesus relied upon it. "Your heavenly Father knows," he
said (Matt. 6:32), and "with God all things are possible" (Mark
10:27). The very miseries of the oppressed and hopeless people added
grounds to his confidence. People who had touched bottom in sounding
the human spirit's capacity for misery, were for him the "ripe
harvest" (Matt. 9:37), only needing to be gathered (Mark 4:29). He
understood them, and he knew that he had the healing for all their
troubles. With full assurance of the truth of his words, he cried:
"Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will
give you rest" (Matt. 11:28). He spoke of a rest which careless
familiarity obscures for us. What understanding and sympathy he
shows, when he adds: "My yoke is easy, and my burden is light!"
Misery, poverty and hunger, he had found, taught men to see
realities. The hungry, at least, were not likely to mistake a stone
for bread--they had a ready test for it, on which they could rely.
Poverty threw open the road to the Kingdom of God. The clearing away
of all temporary satisfactions, of all that cloaked the soul's
deepest needs, prepared men for real relations with the greatest
Reality--with God. So that Jesus boldly said: "Blessed are ye poor";
"Blessed are ye that hunger now"; "Blessed are ye that weep now"
(Luke 6:20, 21); but he had no idea that they were always to weep.
If it was his to care for men's hunger, it was not likely that he
would have no comfort for their tears--"Ye shall find rest unto your
souls" (Matt. 11:29)--"They shall be comforted" (Matt. 5:4).

It was in large part upon the happiness which he was to bring to the
poor that Jesus based his claim to be heard. There is little
reasonable ground for doubt that he healed diseases. Of course we
cannot definitely pronounce upon any individual case reported; the
diagnosis might be too hasty, and the trouble other than was
supposed; but it is well known that such healings do occur--and that
they occurred in Jesus' ministry, we can well believe. So when he
was challenged as to his credentials, he pointed to misery relieved;
and the culmination of everything, the crowning feature of his work,
he found in his "good news for the poor." The phrase he borrowed
from Isaiah (61:1), but he made it his own--the splendid promises in
Isaiah for "the poor, the broken-hearted, captives, blind and
bruised," appealed to him. Time has laid its hand upon his word, and
dulled its freshness. "Gospel" and "evangelical" are no longer words
of sheer happiness like Jesus' "good news"--they are technical
terms, used in handbooks and in controversy; while for Jesus the
"good news for the poor" was a new word of delight and inspiration.

The centre in all the thoughts of Jesus, as we have to remind
ourselves again and again, is God. If, as Dr. D. S. Cairns puts it,
"Jesus Christ is the great believer in man," it is--if we are
reading him aright at all--because God believes in man. Let us
remind ourselves often of that. "Thou hast made us for Thyself,"
said Augustine in the famous sentence, of which we are apt to
emphasize the latter half, "and our heart knows no rest till it
rests in Thee" (Confessions, i. 1). Jesus would have us emphasize
the former clause as well, and believe it. The keynote of his whole
story is God's love; the Father is a real father--strange that one
should have to write the small f to get the meaning! All that Jesus
has taught us of God, we must bring to bear on man. For it is hard
to believe in man--"What is man that thou shouldest magnify him? and
that thou shouldest set thine heart upon him?" quotes the author of
"Job" in a great ironical passage (Job 7:17; from Psalm 8:4). The
elements and the stars come over us, as they came over George Fox in
the Vale of Beavor; what is man? Can one out of fifteen hundred
millions of human beings living on one planet matter to God, when
there are so many planets and stars, and there have been so many
generations? Can he matter? It all depends on how we conceive of
God. Here it is essential to give all the meaning to the term "God"
that Jesus gave to it, to believe in God as Jesus believed in God,
if we are to understand the fullness of Jesus' "good news." It all
depends on God--on whether Jesus was right about God; and after all
on Jesus himself. "A thing of price is man," wrote Synesius about
410 A.D., "because for him Christ died." The two things go
together--Jesus' death and Jesus' Theocentric thought of man.

It is a familiar criticism of idealists and other young hearts, that
it is easy to idealize what one does not know. "Omne ignotum pro
magnifico" is the old epigram of Tacitus. It is not every believer
in man, nor every "Friend of man," who knows men as Jesus did. Like
Burns and Carlyle and others who have interpreted man to us to some
purpose, he grew up in the home of labouring people. He was a
working man himself, a carpenter. He must have learnt his carpentry
exactly as every boy learns it, by hammering his fingers instead of
the nail, sawing his own skin instead of the wood--and not doing it
again. He knew what it was to have an aching back and sweat on the
face; how hard money is to earn, and how quickly it goes. He makes
it clear that money is a temptation to men, and a great danger; but
he never joins the moralists and cranks in denouncing it. He always
talks sense--if the expression is not too lowly to apply to him. He
sees what can be done with money, what a tool it can be in a wise
man's hands--how he can make friends "by means of the mammon of
unrighteousness" (Luke 16:9), for example, by giving unexpectedly
generous wages to men who missed their chances (Matt. 20:15), by
feeding Lazarus at the gate, and perhaps by having his sores
properly attended to (Luke 16:20). That he understood how pitifully
the loss of a coin may affect a household of working people, one of
his most beautiful parables bears witness (Luke 15:8-10). With work
he had no quarrel. He draws many of his parables from labour, and he
implies throughout that it is the natural and right thing for man.
To be holy in his sense, a man need not leave his work. Clement of
Alexandria, in his famous saying about the ploughman continuing to
plough, and knowing God as he ploughs, and the seafaring man,
sticking to his ship and calling on the heavenly pilot as he sails,
is in the vein of Jesus.[24] There were those whom he called to
leave all, to distribute their wealth, and to follow him; but he
chose them (Mark 3:13, 14); it was not his one command for all men
(cf. Mark 5:19). But, as we shall shortly see, it is implied by his
judgements of men that he believed in work and liked men who "put
their backs into it"--their backs, eyes, and their brains too.

Pain, the constant problem of man, and perhaps more, of woman--of
unmarried woman more especially--he never discussed as modern people
discuss it. He never made light of pain any more than of poverty; he
understood physical as well as moral distress. Nor did he, like some
of his contemporaries and some modern people, exaggerate the place
of pain in human experience. He shared pain, he sympathized with
suffering; and his understanding of pain, and, above all, his choice
of pain, taught men to reconsider it and to understand it, and
altered the attitude of the world toward it. His tenderness for the
suffering of others taught mankind a new sympathy, and the
"nosokomeion", the hospital for the sick, was one of the first of
Christian institutions to rise, when persecution stopped and
Christians could build. "And the blind and the lame came to him in
the temple, and he healed them," says Matthew (21:14) in a memorable
phrase. I have heard it suggested that it was irregular for them to
come into the temple courts; but they gravitated naturally to Jesus.

The mystic is never quite at leisure for other people's feelings and
sufferings; he is essentially an individualist; he must have his own
intercourse with God, and other people's affairs are apt to be an
interruption, an impertinence. "I have not been thinking of the
community; I have been thinking of Christ," said a Bengali to me,
who was wavering between the Brahmo Samaj and Christianity. The
blessed Angela of Foligno was rather glad to be relieved of her
husband and children, who died and left her leisure to enjoy the
love of God. All this is quite unlike the real spirit of the
historical Jesus. "Himself took our infirmities and bare our
sicknesses," was a phrase of Isaiah that came instinctively to the
minds of his followers (Matt. 8:17, roughly after Isaiah 53:4).
Perhaps when we begin to understand what is meant by the
Incarnation, we may find that omnipotence has a great deal more to
do than we have supposed with natural sympathy and the genius for
entering into the sorrows and sufferings of other people.

One side of the work of Jesus must never be forgotten. His attitude
to woman has altered her position in the world. No one can study
society in classical antiquity or in non-Christian lands with any
intimacy and not realize this. Widowhood in Hinduism, marriage among
Muslims--they are proverbs for the misery of women. Even the Jew
still prays: "Blessed art thou, O Lord our God! King of the
Universe, who hast not made me a woman." The Jewish woman has to be
grateful to God, because He "hath made me according to His will"--a
thanksgiving with a different note, as the modern Jewess, Amy Levy,
emphasized in her brilliant novel, where her heroine, very like
herself, corrected her prayerbook to make it more explicit "cursed
art Thou, O Lord our God! Who hast made me a woman." Paul must have
known these Jewish prayers, for he emphasized that in Christ there
is neither male nor female (Gal. 3:28). Paul had his views--the
familiar old ways of Tarsus inspired them[25]--as to woman's dress
and deportment, especially the veil; but he struck the real
Christian note here, and laid stress on the fact of what Jesus had
done and is doing for women. There is no reference made by Jesus to
woman that is not respectful and sympathetic; he never warns men
against women. Even the most degraded women find in him an amazing
sympathy; for he has the secret of being pure and kind at the same
time--his purity has not to be protected; it is itself a purifying
force. He draws some of his most delightful parables from woman's
work, as we have seen. It is recorded how, when he spoke of the
coming disaster of Jerusalem, he paused to pity poor pregnant women
and mothers with little babies in those bad times (Luke 21:23; Matt.
24:19). Critics have remarked on the place of woman in Luke's
Gospel, and some have played with fancies as to the feminine sources
whence he drew his knowledge--did the women who ministered to Jesus,
Joanna, for instance, the wife of Chuza (Luke 8:3), tell him these
illuminative stories of the Master? In any case Jesus' new attitude
to woman is in the record; and it has so reshaped the thought of
mankind, and made it so hard to imagine anything else, that we do
not readily grasp what a revolution he made--here as always by
referring men's thoughts back to the standard of God's thoughts, and
supporting what he taught by what he was.

Mark has given us one of our most familiar pictures of Jesus sitting
with a little child on his knee and "in the crook of his arm." (The
Greek participle which gives this in Mark 9:36 and 10:16 is worth
remembering--it is vivid enough.) Mothers brought their children to
him, "that he should put his hands on them and pray" (Matt. 19:13).
Matthew (21:15) says that children took part in the Triumphal Entry;
and Jesus, clear as he was how little the Hosannas of the grown
people meant, seems to have enjoyed the children's part in the
strange scene. Classical literature, and Christian literature of
those ages, offer no parallel to his interest in children. The
beautiful words, "suffer little children to come unto me," are his,
and they are characteristic of him (Matt. 19:14); and he speaks of
God's interest in children (Matt. 18:14)--once more a reference of
everything to God to get it in its true perspective. How Jesus likes
children!--for their simplicity (Luke 18:17), their intuition, their
teachableness, we say. But was it not, perhaps, for far simpler and
more natural reasons just because they were children, and little,
and delightful? We forget his little brothers and sisters, or we
eliminate them for theological purposes.

Jesus lays quite an unexpected emphasis on sheer tenderness--on
kindness to neighbour and stranger, the instinctive humanity that
helps men, if it be only by the swift offer of a cup of cold water
(Matt. 10:42). The Good Samaritan came as a surprise to some of his
hearers (Luke 10:30). "It is our religion," said a Hindu to a
missionary, to explain why he and other Hindus did not help to
rescue a fainting man from the railway tracks, nor even offer water
to restore him, when the missionary had hauled him on to the
platform unaided. Not so the religion of Jesus--"bear ye one
another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ," wrote Paul
(Gal. 6:2)--"pursue hospitality" (Rom. 12:13; the very word runs
through the Epistles of the New Testament). And, as we shall see in
a later chapter, the Last Judgement itself turns on whether a man
has kindly instincts or not. Matthew quotes (12:20) to describe
Jesus' own tenderness the impressive phrase of Isaiah (42:3), "A
bruised reed shall he not break."

If it is urged that such things are natural to man--"do not even the
publicans the same?" (Matt. 5:46)--Jesus carries the matter a long
way further. "Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him
twain" (Matt. 5:41). The man who would use such compulsion would be
the alien soldier, the hireling of Herod or of Rome; and who would
wish to cart him and his goods even one mile? "Go two miles," says
Jesus--or, if the Syriac translation preserves the right reading,
"Go two _extra_." Why? Well, the soldier is a man after all, and by
such unsolicited kindness you may make a friend even of a government
official--not always an easy thing to do--at any rate you can help
him; God helps him; "be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father
which is in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). Ordinary kindness and
tenderness could hardly be urged beyond that point; and yet Jesus
goes further still. He would have us _pray_ for those that
despitefully use us (Matt. 5:44)--and in no Pharisaic way, but with
the same instinctive love and friendliness that he always used
himself. "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do"
(Luke 23:34). There are religions which inculcate the tolerance of
wrong aiming at equanimity of mind or acquisition of merit. But
Jesus implies on the contrary that in all this also the Christian
_denies_ himself, does not seek even in this way to save his own
soul, but forgets all about it in the service of others, though he
finds by and by, with a start, that he has saved it far more
effectually than he could have expected (Mark 8:35; Matt. 25:37,
40). The emphasis falls on our duty of kindness and tenderness to
all men and women, because we and they are alike God's children.

With his emphasis on tenderness we may group his teaching on
forgiveness. He makes the forgiving spirit an antecedent of
prayer--"when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have aught against
any; that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your
trespasses" (Mark 11:25). "If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and
there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave
there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way, first be reconciled
to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift" (Matt. 5:23, 24).
The parable of the king and his debtor (Matt. 18:23), painfully true
to human nature, brings out the whole matter of our forgiveness of
one another into the light; we are shown it from God's outlook. The
teaching as ever is Theocentric. To Peter, Jesus says that a man
should be prepared to forgive his brother to seventy times seven--if
anybody can keep count so far (Matt. 18:21-35). He sees how quarrels
injure life, and alienate a man from God. Hence comes the famous
saying: "Resist not evil; but whosoever shall smite thee on thy
right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matt. 5:39). He would have
men even avoid criticism of one another (Matt. 7:1-5). Epigrams are
seductive, and there is a fascination in the dissection of
character; but there is always a danger that a clever
characterization, a witty label, may conclude the matter, that a
possible friendship may be lost through the very ingenuity with
which the man has been labelled, who might have been a friend. It is
not a small matter in Jesus' eyes, he puts his view very strongly
(Matt. 5:22); and, as we must always remember, he bases himself on
fact. We may lose a great deal more than we think by letting our
labels stand between us and his words, by our habit of calling them
paradoxes and letting them go at that.

It is worth while to look at the type of character that he admires.
Modern painters have often pictured Jesus as something of a dreamer,
a longhaired, sleepy, abstract kind of person. What a contrast we
find in the energy of the real Jesus--in the straight and powerful
language which he uses to men, in the sweep and range of his mind,
in the profundity of his insight, the drive and compulsiveness of
his thinking, in the venturesomeness of his actions. How many of the
parables turn on energy? The real trouble with men, he seems to say,
is again and again sheer slackness; they will not put their minds to
the thing before them, whether it be thought or action. Thus, for
instance, the parable of the talents turns on energetic thinking and
decisive action; and these are the things that Jesus admires--in the
widow who will have justice (Luke 18:21)--in the virgins who thought
ahead and brought extra oil (Matt. 25:4)--in the vigorous man who
found the treasure and made sure of it (Matt. 13:44)--in the friend
at midnight, who hammered, hammered, hammered, till he got his
loaves (Luke 11:8)--in the "violent," who "take the Kingdom of
Heaven by force" (Matt. 11:12; Luke 16:16)--in the man who will hack
off his hand to enter into life (Mark 9:43). Even the bad steward he
commends, because he definitely put his mind on his situation (Luke
16:8). As we shall see later on, indecision is one of the things
that in his judgement will keep a man outside the Kingdom of God,
that make him unfit for it. The matter deserves more study than we
commonly give it. You must have a righteousness, he says, which
exceeds the righteousness of the Pharisees (Matt. 5:20)--and the
Pharisees were professionals in righteousness. His tests of
discipleship illumine his ideal of character--Theocentric
thinking--negation of self--the thought-out life. He will have his
disciples count the cost, reckon their forces, calculate quietly the
risks before them--right up to the cross (Luke 14:27-33)--like John
Bunyan in Bedford Gaol, where he thought things out to the pillory
and thence to the gallows, so that, if it came to the gallows, he
should be ready, as he says, to leap off the ladder blindfold into
eternity. That is the energy of mind that Jesus asks of men, that he
admires in men.

On the other side, he is always against the life of drift, the
half-thought-out life. There they were, he says, in the days of
Noah, eating and drinking, marrying, dreaming--and the floods came
and destroyed them (Luke 17:27). So ran the old familiar story, and,
says Jesus, it is always true; men will drift and dream for ever,
heedless of fact, heedless of God--and then ruin, life gone, the
soul lost, the Son of Man come, and "you yourselves thrust out"
(Luke 13:28, with Matt. 25:10-13). It is quite striking with what a
variety of impressive pictures Jesus drives home his lesson. There
is the person who everlastingly says and does not do (Matt.
23:3)--who promises to work and does not work (Matt. 21:28)--who
receives a new idea with enthusiasm, but has not depth enough of
nature for it to root itself (Mark 4:6)--who builds on sand, the
"Mr. Anything" of Bunyan's allegory; nor these alone, for Jesus is
as plain on the unpunctual (Luke 13:25), the easy-going (Luke
12:47), the sort that compromises, that tries to serve God and
Mammon (Matt. 6:24)--all the practical half-and-half people that
take their bills quickly and write fifty, that offer God and man
about half what they owe them of thought and character and action,
and bid others do the same, and count themselves men of the world
for their acuteness (Luke 16:1-8). And to do them justice, Jesus
commends them; they have taken the exact measure of things "in their
generation." Their mistake lies in their equation of the fugitive
and the eternal; and it is the final and fatal mistake according to
Jesus, and a very common one--forgetfulness of God in fact (Luke
12:20), a mistake that comes from _not_ thinking things out. Jesus
will have men think everything out to the very end. "He never says:
Come unto me, all ye who are too lazy to think for yourselves" (H.
S. Coffin). It is energy of mind that he calls for--either with me
or against me. He does not recognize neutrals in his war--"he that
is not against us is for us" (Luke 9:50)--"he that is not with me is
against me" (Matt. 12:30).

Where does a man's _Will_ point him? That is the question. "Out of
the abundance, the overflow, of the heart, the mouth speaketh"
(Matt. 12:34). What is it that a man _wills_, purity or impurity
(Matt. 5:28)? It is the inner energy that makes a man; what he says
and does is an overflow from what is within--an overflow, it is
true, with a reaction. It is what a man _chooses_, and what he
_wills_, that Jesus always emphasizes; "God knoweth your hearts"
(Luke 16:15). Very well then; does a man choose God? That is the
vital issue. Does he choose God without reserve, and in a way that
God, knowing his heart, will call a whole-hearted choice?

St. Augustine, in a very interesting passage ("Confessions", viii.
9, 21), remarks upon the fact that, when the mind commands the body,
obedience is instantaneous, but that when it commands itself, it
meets with resistance. "The mind commands that the mind shall
will--it is one and the same mind, and it does not obey." He finds
the reason; the mind does not absolutely and entirely ("ex toto")
will the thing, and so it does not absolutely and entirely command
it. "There is nothing strange after all in this," he says, "partly
to will, partly not to will; but it is a weakness of the mind that
it does not arise in its entirety, uplifted by truth, because it is
borne down by habit. Thus there are two Wills, because one of them
is not complete."

The same thought is to be traced in the teaching of Jesus. It is
implied in what he says about prayer. There is a want of faith, a
half-heartedness about men's prayers; they pray as Augustine says he
himself did: "Give me chastity and continence, but not now" (Conf,
viii. 7, 17). That is not what Jesus means by prayer--the utterance
of the half-Will. Nor is it this sort of surrender to God that Jesus
calls for--no, the question is, how thoroughly is a man going to put
himself into God's hands? Does he mean to be God's up to the cross
and beyond? Does he enlist absolutely on God's terms without a
bargain with God, prepared to accept God's will, whatever it is,
whether it squares with his liking or not? (cf. Luke 17:7-10). Are
his own desires finally out of the reckoning? Does he, in fact,
deny--negate--himself (Mark 8:34)? Jesus calls for disciples, with
questions so penetrating on his lips. What a demand to make of men!
What faith, too, in men it shows, that he can ask all this with no
hint of diminished seriousness!

Jesus is the great believer in men, as we saw in the choice of his
twelve. To that group of disciples he trusts the supremest task men
ever had assigned to them. Not many wise, not many mighty, Paul
found at Corinth (1 Cor. 1:26); and it has always been so. Is it not
still the gist of the Gospel that Jesus believes in the writer and
the reader of these lines--trusts them with the propagation of God's
Kingdom, incredible commission? Jesus was always at leisure for
individuals; this was the natural outcome of his faith in men. What
else is the meaning of his readiness to spend himself in giving the
utmost spiritual truth--no easy task, as experience shows us--even
to a solitary listener? If we accept what he tells us of God, we can
believe that the individual is worth all that Jesus did and does for
him, but hardly otherwise. His gift of discovering interest in
uninteresting people, says Phillips Brooks, was an intellectual
habit that he gave to his disciples. We think too much "like men";
he would have us "think like God," and think better of odd units and
items of humanity than statesmen and statisticians are apt to do. It
has been pointed out lately how fierce he is about the man who puts
a stumbling-block in the way of even "a little one"--"better for him
that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into
the sea"; no mere phrase--for when he draws a picture, he sees it;
he sees this scene, and "better so--for him too!" is his comment
(Mark 9:42). There was, we may remember, a view current in antiquity
that when a man was drowned, his soul perished with his body, though
I do not know if the Jews held this opinion. It is not likely that
Jesus did. What is God's mind, God's conduct, toward those people
whom men think they can afford to despise? "Be ye therefore perfect,
even as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matt. 5:48). And to whom
did he say this? To the most ordinary people--to Peter and James and
John; for all sorts of people he held up this impossible ideal of a
perfection like God's. What a faith in man it implies! "All things
are possible to him that believes" (Mark 9:9.3). Why should not
_you_ believe? he says.

His faith in the soul's possibilities is boundless, and in marked
contrast with what men think of themselves. A man, for instance,
will say that he has done his best; but nine times out of ten it
means mere fatigue; he is not going to trouble to do any more. How
_can_ a man know that he has done his best? The Gospel of Jesus
comes with its message of the grace of God, and the power of God, to
people who are stupid and middle-aged, who are absolutely settled in
life, who are conscious of their limitations, who know they are
living in a rut and propose to stick to it for the remainder of
their days; and Jesus tells them in effect that he means to give
them a new life altogether, that he means to have from them service,
perfectly incredible to them. No man, he suggests, need be so inured
to the stupidity of middle age but there may be a miraculous change
in him. A great many people need re-conversion at forty, however
Christian they have been before. This belief of his in the
individual man and in the worth of the individual is the very
charter of democracy. The original writings of William Tyndale, who
first translated the New Testament from Greek into English, contain
the essential ideas of democracy already in 1526--the outcome of
familiar study of the Gospel. Jesus himself said of Herod: "Go and
tell that fox" (Luke 13:32). Herod was a king, but he was not above
criticism; and Christians have not failed at times to make the
criticism of the great that truth requires.

Jesus had no illusions about men; he sees the weak spots; he
recognizes the "whited sepulchre" (Matt. 23:27). He is astonished at
the unbelief of men and women (Mark 6:6). He does not understand why
they cannot think (Mark 8:21), but he notes how they see and yet do
not see, hear and do not understand (Matt. 13:13). He is impressed
by their falsity, even in religion (Matt. 15:8). He knows perfectly
well the evil of which the human heart is capable (Matt. 15:19). A
man who steadily looks forward to being crucified by the people he
is trying to help is hardly one of the absent-minded enthusiasts,
mis-called idealists. There never was, we feel, one who so
thoroughly looked through his friends, who loved them so much and
yet without a shade of illusion. This brings us to the subject of
the next chapter.

In the meantime let us recall what he makes of the wasted life. "In
thinking of the case," said Seeley. "they had forgotten the
woman"--a common occurrence with those who deal in "cases." It was
once severely said of the Head of a College that "if he would leave
off caring for his students' souls and care for them, he would do
better." Jesus does not forget the man in caring for his soul--he
likes him. He is "the friend of publicans and sinners" (Luke 7:34);
he eats and drinks with them (Mark 2:14). Let us remember again that
these were taunts and were meant to sting; they were not
conventional phrases. See how he can enter into the life of a poor
creature. There is the wretched little publican, Zacchaeus (Luke
19:1-10)--a squalid little figure of a man, whom people despised. He
was used to contempt--it was the portion of the tax-collector
enlisted in Roman service against his own people. Jesus comes and
sees him up in the tree; he instantly realizes what is happening and
invites himself to the house of Zacchaeus as a guest; something
passes between them without spoken word. The little man slides down
the tree--not a proceeding that makes for dignity; and then, with
all his inches, he stands up before the whole town, that knew him so
well, in a new moral grandeur that adds cubits to his stature. "Half
my goods," he says, "I give to the poor. If I have taken anything
from any man by false accusation, he shall have it back fourfold."
That man belonged to the despised classes. Jesus came into his life;
the man became a new man, a pioneer of Christian generosity. Again,
there is the woman with the alabaster box, the mere possession of
which stamped her for what she was. It was simply a case of the
wasted life. I have long wondered if she meant to give him only some
of the ointment. A little of it would have been a great gift. But
perhaps the lid of the box jammed, and she realized in a moment that
it was to be all or nothing--she drew off her sandal and smashed the
box to pieces. However she broke it, and whatever her reasons,
Mark's words mean that it was thoroughly and finally shivered (Mark
14:3). Something had happened which made this woman the pioneer of
the Christian habit of giving all for Jesus. The disciples said they
had done so (Matt. 19:27), but they were looking for thrones in
exchange (Mark 10:37); she was not. The thief on the cross himself
becomes a pioneer for mankind in the Christian way of prayer.
"Jesus, remember me!" he says (Luke 23:42). How is it that Jesus
comes into the wasted life and makes it new? "One loving heart sets
another on fire."

With all his wide outlook on mankind, his great purpose to capture
all men, Jesus is remarkable for his omission to devise machinery or
organization for the accomplishment of his ends. The tares are left
to grow with the wheat (Matt. 13:30)--as if Jesus trusted the wheat
a good deal more than we do. Alive as he is to the evil in human
nature, he never tries to scare men from it, and he seems to have
been very little afraid of it. He believed in the power of
good--because, after all, God is "Lord of the Harvest" (Matt. 9:38).
He invents no special methods--a loving heart will hit the method
needed in the particular case; the Holy Spirit will teach this as
well as other things (Matt. 10:19, 20). How far he even organized
his church, or left it to organize itself if it so wished, students
may discuss. Would he have trusted even the best organized church as
such? Does not what we mean by the Incarnation imply putting
everything in the long run on the individual, quickened into new
life by a new relation with God and taught a new love of men by
Jesus himself? The heart of friendship and the heart of the
Incarnation are in essence the same thing--giving oneself in
frankness and love to him who will accept, and by them winning him
who refuses. Has not this been the secret of the spread of the
Gospel? The simplicity of the whole thing, and the power of it, grow
upon us as we study them. But after all, as Tertullian said,
simplicity and power are the constant marks of God's
work--simplicity in method, power in effect ("de Baptismo", 2).



"For clear-thinking ethical natures," writes a modern scholar, "for
natures such as those of Jesus and St. Paul, it is a downright
necessity to separate heaven and hell as distinctly as possible. It
is only ethically worthless speculations that have always tried to
minimize this distinction. Carlyle is an instance in our times of
how men even to-day once more enthusiastically welcome the
conception of hell as soon as the distinction between good and bad
becomes all-important to them."[26]

Here in strong terms a challenge is put to many of our current
ideas. Is not this to revert to an outworn view of the Christian

Book of the day: