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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Three - The Second Initiation - The Baptism in Jordan
At initiation two things happen: the initiate discovers his fellow initiates, those with whom he can associate, and he finds out also the mission to which he is called. He becomes aware of his divinity in a new and factual sense, not just as a deeply spiritual hope, an intriguing hypothetical possibility and his heart's desire. He knows himself to be a son of God, therefore recognition is accorded to him. This was strikingly the case with Jesus Christ. His task emerged in its dread implications before His eyes, and this must surely have been the reason why He was driven into the wilderness. The urge to solitude, the search for that quiet where reflection and determination can strengthen each other, was the natural outcome of this recognition. He saw what He had to do - to serve, to suffer and to found the kingdom of God. The expansion of consciousness was immediate and deep. Dr. Schweitzer says in this connection:

"About Jesus' earlier development we know nothing. All lies in the dark. Only this is sure: at his baptism the secret of his existence was disclosed to him - namely, that he was the One whom God had destined to be the Messiah. With this revelation he was complete, and underwent no further development. For now he is assured that, until the near coming of the messianic age which was to reveal his glorious dignity, he was to labor for the Kingdom as the unrecognized and hidden Messiah, and must prove and purify himself together with his friends in the final Affliction."
- The Mystery of the Kingdom of God, by Albert Schweitzer, p. 354.

To the man Jesus this was probably a staggering disclosure. Dim anticipations of the path which He might have to tread must at times have entered His mind, but the full implications, and the picture of the way which lay ahead of Him could not have dawned upon His consciousness in their fullness until after the second initiation was undergone, when His purification was complete. He then faced the life of service and the difficulties which attend the path of every conscious son of God. The same writer says:

"In Jesus' messianic consciousness the thought of suffering acquired [103] now, as applied to himself, a mysterious significance. The Messiahship which he became aware of at his baptism was not a possession, nor a mere object of expectation; but in the eschatological conception, it was implied as a matter of course that through the trial of suffering he must become what God had destined him to be. His messianic consciousness was never without the thought of the Passion. Suffering is the way to the revelation of Messiahship!"
- Ibid., p. 223.

Christ's entire life was one long via dolorosa, but it was illumined always by the light of His soul and by the recognition of the Father. Though, as recorded in the New Testament, it was divided into definite periods and cycles, and though obviously the detail of what He had to do was only progressively revealed to Him, His life constituted one great sacrifice, one great experience and one definite purpose. This definiteness of objective, and this consecration of the whole man to an ideal are conditions indicative of the state of initiation. All life's happenings are related to the carrying forward of the life task. Life takes on true significance. This is a lesson which all of us, uninitiate and aspiring, can now learn. We can begin to say, "Life to me, as I look back on it, is not a succession of experiences but one great experience illumined here and there by moments of revelation."
- A Pilgrim's Quest for the Absolute, by Lord Conway of Allington, p. 8.

This illumination grows more constant as time goes on. The ancient Hindu teacher, Patanjali, taught that illumination is sevenfold, progressing by successive stages. (The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Book II, 27.) It is as though he were dealing in thought with the seven illuminations which come to all the sons of God who are in process of awakening to their divine opportunities: the illumination which comes when we decide to tread the Path of probation, and to prepare ourselves for initiation. Then the light is shed on the distant vision, and we catch a fleeting glimpse of our goal. Next the light is shed upon ourselves, and we get a vision of what we are, and what we can be, and enter [104] upon the Path of discipleship, or - in the terminology of the Bible - we begin the long journey to Bethlehem. Then there are the five initiations which we are studying, each of which marks an increase of light which shines upon our way and develops that inner radiance which enables all God's children to say, with Christ: "I am the Light of the World," (St. John, VIII, 12.) and to obey His command wherein He tells us to "let your light so shine before men that they may see." (St. Matt., V, 16.) This light, in its seven stages, reveals God - God in nature, God in Christ, God in man. It is the cause of the mystical vision about which so much has been written and taught, and to which the lives of God's saints in both hemispheres have ever testified.

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