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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Five - The Fourth Initiation - The Crucifixion

The Fourth Initiation - The Crucifixion


A fire-mist and a planet,
A crystal and a cell,
A jelly-fish and a saurian,
And caves where the cave-men dwell;
Then a sense of law and beauty,
And a face turned from the clod -
Some call it Evolution,
And others call it God.

Like tides on a crescent sea-beach
When the moon is new and thin,
Into our hearts high yearnings
Come welling and surging in:
Come from the mystic ocean
Whose rim no foot has trod -
Some of us call it Longing,
And others call it God.

A picket frozen on duty,
A mother starved for her brood,
Socrates drinking the hemlock,
And Jesus on the rood;
And millions who, humble and nameless,
The straight, hard pathway plod -
Some call it Consecration,
And others call it God.

William Herbert Carruth. [175]


We now come to the central mystery of Christianity, and to the climaxing initiation to which men, as human beings, can aspire. Of the next initiation, the Resurrection, and of the Ascension connected with it, we know practically nothing, beyond the fact that Christ rose from the dead. The Resurrection initiation is veiled in silence. All that is recorded is the reaction of those who knew and loved the Lord, and the after effects upon the history of the Christian Church. But the Crucifixion has always been the outstanding, dramatic episode upon which the entire structure of Christian theology has been founded. Upon this has the emphasis been laid. Millions of words have been written about it, and thousands of books and commentaries have attempted to elucidate its meaning and to explain the significance of its mystery. Down the ages a myriad points of view have been presented for the consideration of men. There has been much misinterpretation, but much also that is divinely real has been expressed. God has been misrepresented many times, and the interpretation of what Christ did has been travestied in terms of men's small views. The wonder of the happening on Mount Calvary has been unveiled through the illumined experiences of the believer and the knower.

A new world order came into being when Christ came to earth, and from that time on we have moved steadily forward towards a new age wherein men inevitably will live as brothers because Christ died, and the true nature of the kingdom of God will find expression on earth. Of this, past [176] progress is the guarantee. The immediacy of this happening is already faintly understood by those who, as Christ has said, have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. Inevitably we are moving forward towards greatness, and Christ emphasized this in His life and work. We have not yet achieved this greatness, but the signs of it can be seen. Already there are indications of the coming of this new era, and the dim outlines of a new and more nearly ideal social structure, based on perfected humanity, are discernible. It is this perfection which is of importance.

One of the first things that it seems essential to recognize is the fact, the definite fact, that Christ's Crucifixion must be lifted out of the realm of its purely individual application, into the realm of the universal and the whole. It may perhaps cause some consternation when we emphasize the necessity of realizing that the death of the historical Christ upon the Cross was not primarily concerned with each individual man who claims to profit by it. It was a great cosmic event. Its implications and its results concern the masses of humanity, and do not concern specifically the individual. We are so apt to take to ourselves, as a personal affair, the many implications of Christ's sacrifice. The selfishness of the spiritual aspirant is often very real.

It is surely evident, if one approaches the subject intelligently, that Christ did not die in order that you and I might go to heaven. He died as the result of the very nature of the service which He rendered, of the note which He struck, and because He inaugurated a new age and told men how to live as sons of God.

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