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Chapter 8

I am a Man as You are’

Joyfully the Master trod the highways, with a deep-set faith and a burning zeal in the pursuit of his mission: the good news of the Kingdom which, if men would hear and recognise, would not only save them from their sins, but would lead them into a knowledge of the fuller, richer life that he would have them attain.

Sometimes it was to an individual he spoke, sometimes to a little group, sometimes to a great throng of persons who pressed hard in their eagerness one upon another. Always confident, knowing the source of the truth which he proclaimed, confident always of his power through a complete reliance upon the divine power within that he realised and that he taught, he nevertheless never allowed an inflated ego, that vice of fools, to manifest itself in him. He was always humble. Numbers of times and in various circumstances he took pains to make this plain.

‘As he was going forth into the way, there ran one to him, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life ? And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? None is good save one, that is God.’ (Mark x, 17-28.)

On another occasion while he was teaching a group that had gathered around him, one old fellow, it is related, got so enthusiastic, or so emotional, that he fell down and began to worship him.

Seeing him, that same sense of per.sntlpl hum~ity, combined perhaps with amusement, or pity, prompted the Master to say in substance: ‘No, no, don’t do that. Get up. Don’t do that. I am a man as you are. And how clear-cut but how telling is his insight and his teaching along this same line!

‘When thou art bidden of any man to a marriage feast, sit not down in the chief seat; lest haply a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him, and he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and then thou begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest place; that when he that hath bidden thee cometh, he may say to thee, Friend, go up higher; then shalt thou have glory in the presence of all that sit at meat with thee. For every one that exalteth himself shall be humbled; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted. (Luke xiv. 8-11.)

Again the personal. simplicity of the Master is shown.

‘Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.’ (Matt, xi. 29.)

Another interesting lesson in simplicity and humility and their significance, in a little different light, is pointed by him.

‘Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week; I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for every one that exalteth him self shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.’ (Luke xviii. 10-14.)

The verse immediately preceding the Master’s words reads: ‘And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others.’

And still again, along this same general line, how universally applicable and how simple and how clear-cut his statement:

‘Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdeset thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye. Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.’ (Matt. vii. 1-5.)

There was something supremely refreshing and simple in the mind of the Master as far as the personal self is concerned. When it came, though, to the great truth he had realised and felt he embodied and endeavoured so eagerly to reveal to others, we have something of a different tone — something to which he would have all men give attention. He then becomes the voice, the advocate. of God with his Gospel, his good news - ‘my Father’s business.’

Ascending from the personal. Jesus to the full realisation of the Christ, he speaks with a sense of the power which that realisation gives. He changes the expression that he so generally applied to himself, son of man, to the form, son of God. He makes clear, however, the basis of it: ‘Of myself I can do nothing; it is the Father that worketh in me, my Father works and I work.’

The Christ consciousness — ‘I and my Father are one’ — now assumes complete mastery; and dedicating his life to the proposition as he states it, ‘as I am you shall be,’ and enlisting at once the attention of men, he sets forth his claims and his authority for them:

‘To this end have I been born, and to this end am I come into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.” (John xviii. 37.)

‘I came to cast fire upon the earth; and how I would that it were already kindled.’ (Luke xii. 49.)

‘I do nothing of myself, but as the Father taught me, I speak these things.’ (John viii. 28.)

‘My teaching is not mine, but his that sent me. If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it be of God, or whether I speak from myself. He that speaketh from himself seeketh his own glory; but he that seeketh the glory of him that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.’ (John vii. 16-18.)

‘I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that be-lieveth on me shall never thirst.’ (John vi. 35.)

‘Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.’ (Matt. xi. 28-30.)

‘If ye abide in my word, then are ye truly my disciples; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.’ (John viii. 31-32.)

‘I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and belicveth in me shall never die.’ (John xi. 25-26.)

‘He that heareth my word, and believeth hath passed out of death into life.’ (John v. 24.)

‘The words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John vi. 63.)

Every word, every parable, every teaching of the Way-shower had for its ultimate purpose the bringing of his message of God into the troubled lives of his hearers. He was the door through which they could enter. He was the light that would light their consciousness to this Kingdom within.

One day as he taught, there was a commotion and he stopped to listen, while a smile perhaps played over the faces of his audience. A certain woman of the company lifted up her voice and said unto him: ‘Blcssed is the womb that bore thee, and the paps which thou hast sucked.’ But he said: ‘Yea rather, blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it.’ (Luke xi. 27-28.) A friendly interchange, perhaps, but a genuine earnestness on the part of both.

Practically everything centred around his great fundamental message, his Gospel, his good news of the consciousness of God in the minds, the hearts, the souls of men: the finding of this Kingdom within and the results that would follow.

He was not so much a teacher of morality as he was a prophet, an adventurer in truth, who was bringing to the world a new truth, so to speak, a truth so fundamental that when actually received and acted upon it would touch, modify, and direct every act and phase of life. It would bring a positive gain and security, while unbelief resulting in its rejection would bring loss or even desolation.

So convinced is he of this fact that he boldly proclaims:

‘Everyone that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them, shall be likened unto a wise man, who built his house upon the rock: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon the rock. And everyone that heareth these words of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand: and the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and smote upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall thereof.’ (Matt. vii. 24-27.)

‘Work not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of man shall give unto you.’ (John vi. 27.)

And how simply and clearly he points out the gain in the better and more abiding things of life!

‘Lay not up for yourselves treasurcs upon the earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth consume, and where thieves do not break through and steal: for where thy treasure is, there will thy heart be also. The lamp of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is the darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.’ (Matt. vi. 19-24.)

A certain steadfastness and moral fibre is required, he says.

‘No man having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God. (Luke ix. 62.)

His injunction to any who would be his follower is to put first things first.

‘He said unto a certain man, Follow me. But he said, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father. But he said unto him, Leave the dead to bury their own dead; but go thou and publish abroad the Kingdom of God.’ (Luke ix. 59-60.)

Men must be not only receivers but must be doers of the word. They must not only enter into this new consciousness, this new birth, but they must let it have an unceasing grip on their lives. They must not only believe, but they must do. They must not only receive the truth, but they must live the life. If the truth take real hold of the life, it will push the life out into action, he affirms.

‘Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it. For what shall it profit a man if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?’ (Mark viii. 34-37.)

He had great confidence not only in the redeeming power but in the endurance of the truth that he brings.

‘Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. (Mark xiii. 31.)

He felt that the truth he had realised and was bringing to the world had a timeless element. He felt that this truth was so fundamental and was so practical in its elevating and helpful power in the individual life, and also in the collective life of the people, that he was willing even to give his life for it; and as events proved, when the final clash came with the entrenched organisation of privilege and enervating dogma, he did die for it. There can be no greater evidence of his mastering belief as to how helpful and valuable the truth he brought might be in the lives of men and women everywhere.

It would not only be of help in the everyday problems and affairs of life, but it would redeem them from their misconceptions and sins and errors of life.

To repent and then to believe and to follow his truth meant forgiveness and the beginning of a new life. Their sins were thereby forgiven, and they should be forgotten; even the recollection of them with its benumbing, beclouding, and enervating influence was to cease and to give place to the joy that his living truth would bring. It was simply to turn and to follow the truth, which would become as a light to their heretofore stumbling feet.

To turn also from the blind leaders of the blind, the ecclesiastical peddlers of a lifeless system of form and inconsequential observances, and to follow this truth, this light of life that he brought, would make their redemption complete. There was no scheme of salvation; rather, he bitterly condemned those who would make a pretence of such — especially as the perquisites of any institution.

‘Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees . . .for ye shut the Kingdom of Heaven against men: for ye enter not in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering in to enter.’ (Man. xxiii. I3.)

‘Ye blind guides,’ he said of those he had just described and warned against; ‘ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel.’

That, a man’s life, even in his wanderings away from the Father’s fold, is a matter between him and his Father, and that his return brings joy not only to himself and all whom his life touches, but primarily to the Father, he sets forth simply and beautifully in his parable as related by Luke:

‘What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.’ (Luke xv. 4-7.)

No less significant and interesting, as he states it, is the truth in the parable that immediately follows:

‘Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth. (Luke xv. 8-10.)

A friend, a man of great interests, very observant and understanding, believes that the sole purpose of life is experience. It is one of his cardinal beliefs — quite as basic as is his belief in reincarnation, which in turn has to do with experience. Its real personal value lies, of course, in what one chooses to make of each experience.

The Master throws many a light for guidance here - in The Way.


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