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Chapter 15

When a Brave Man Chooses Death

Immediately after the Passover feast with the little band, with all of its hallowed associations, he leaves the inn with the twelve, or rather now with the eleven, for one has slipped out to fulfil his compact with the chief priests. They cross over the little stream to the east of the city to the Mount of Olives.

There is a walled garden here to which the Master and his disciples seem to have been given welcome entrance by its owner, since they have visited it many times for quiet, and sometimes for sleeping at night. It is called Gethsemane, from an old olive press that stands near its entrance. The disciples notice an almost brooding solemnity on the countenance of the Master. Taking three, John, Peter and James, with him, he leaves the others at the garden gate. Going in a short distance he then leaves the three and bids them wait, watch, pray, while he goes a little farther in.

Alone he thinks and prays and seeks the light — the light that he must now follow, for he realises that the hour of decision for him has come. His intuition tells him that the alternative is escape then and there — voluntary on his part and still easy — and survival, or remaining to meet death, death in a very short time. He realises full well why Judas slipped out from the supper they have just had together.

He perceives that one way lie life and all it may still have for him: love, friends, continued even if restricted teaching, success. The other way lie trumped-up charges of blasphemy or sedition, abuse, public dishonour apparent failure, a cruel, torturing death.

There is still time to make his way out of the garden with his followers; slipping down the side of Olivet to the east, before long they could cross the Jordan and be safe. Or, going north, they could soon be again in their own native Galilee, among friends eager to welcome them. By being quiet for a while they would be secure. Which shall it be?

He is young; the urge of life is strong — a joy-filled life, such as his has been up to the last half-dozen days. The love of friends is strong. He knows life. He doesn’t know death. The realisation that has been his, the God-life within, has made life a thrilling adventure. Revealing in his teaching this truth of life to his people so sorely in need of it has but accentuated for him the joy of life. And in this great human service he has tasted true greatness.

Will not the same Father who has led him and cared for him in life, lead him and care for him if it is to be death? To be afraid, then, a coward, were inconceivable. What to do? Again the genius of the Master asserts itself.

How will his truth — the truth that will make men free, the truth which he has sought for three years to bring to his people with all the passion and driving purpose of his life — be affected by his decision? This will be the determining factor. To live for it may be well. To die for it may bring the greater gain. As has been stated, he had a superb intuitive knowledge of human psychology. Hence, ‘And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.’ Hence, spoken within the week: ‘Except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit.’

Or again, was he growing weary, weary that his three years of joyfully given work hadn’t produced more tangible results? Now that his popularity was waning might it be legitimate for him to consider this? Grievances, if desired and countenanced, are many. Deserted first by his own neighbours; at times questioned and misunderstood and to that extent deserted by his family and relatives; questioned and not fully understood by his best friend; deserted now by the crowd; confronted at times by dull-mindedness and contention in the twelve he had chosen and had so much depended upon; betrayed now by one, to be denied by another, and at the last to be abandoned by all (for with a peculiar intuitive sense he had seen this coming and almost within the hour had spoken it before them). In addition he is hounded now and persecuted by the leaders of his people’s religion.

In the face of all this, and other things that might have come to him which he never mentioned, was he growing weary? Will the genius of the man again assert itself?

Or again, was his great enveloping vision, of the Kingdom of God that was to come and rule in the world, too slow of realisation? Was the Kingdom-to-be too slow in coming through the individual? It was the individual, the individual receiving his message of the Kingdom of God within, that must multiply to numbers great enough to make the Kingdom of God here on earth. Did this realisation cause the change that came about in him and result in the choice of death?

And then again — wonderful thought and hope — did he have such faith in the triumph of life over death as he has already intimated? Was it in his mind that he would arise and come again in a power and glory that would bring the establishment of the Kingdom of God here on earth; and that would be far greater than any influence he could have by staying on with this work here? That some such thing
not only might but would occur, and occur shortly, even before the generation then living had passed, he fully believed. Various statements made during these last few days of his life furnish very clear evidence of it.

Whatever he might have thought, and he alone knew all that he thought, the hour for decision has come, and decide he must. One thing that stands out clearly now is this — he is no coward. Every thought and every act of his life up to the present time give clear evidence of this. To know and to do the right thing — that is what earnest, devoted thought, earnest prayer, even the prayer of supplication, are helping him now to find.

The urge of life is strong — ‘Father, all things are possible unto Thee; take away this cup from me. . . .’ The urge and the will to know and to do the right thing for his truth is stronger — ‘Nevertheless not what I will, but what Thou wilt. . . .’

The same urge that has been with him all his life and pushed him on to give his message of life still holds him: I must be about my Father’s business. And my Father’s business, my brother, is to make known to you who and what you are. I and my Father are one. As I am you shall be. There is but one Principle of life. You are a worm of the dust, a poor fallen creature, only as you think you are, or as dogma may work in a stupid or cowardly mind. You are a child of God with the life, the love, the power, the glory of the Eternal in you. Only you must know it and live as such. This is my life message, my gospel, my good news, and it is for you.

By lifting your mind from your lower conception of self to the knowledge of the Divine life within you, I become your saviour, even as I would be the saviour of all men through this my truth — the truth that shall make you and all men free. You are born through this knowledge of the Spirit into the new life. The words that I speak unto you are Spirit and are life. He that heareth my word, and believeth . . .hath passed out of death into life. Through this higher knowledge of life and living in it, the Christ becomes enthroned in you as it has in me. They will kill me for this, for it is not according to their code, and it weakens their hold. . . .

The genius of the Master, so uniformly asserting itself, took his mind always away from himself, that there be no interference with his truth. ‘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.’ To this he was as true as the needle to the pole. `Is he a self-seeker, a weakling, a coward? Will he go, or will he stay? A man really fired by the truth is never a coward, even in face of death.

Here is a man contemplating a series of situations, seeking the light, but a man. As soon as the light breaks clear and strong he will decide. He . . . It breaks. He decides. He arises. He stays. The genius of the man again asserts itself; and we never should have had any doubt as to what his decision would be.

He goes back for the third time to his disciples, some near and some at the entrance to the garden, and finds them still sleeping. It makes but little difference now, for his decision is made.


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