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From Bethlehem to Calvary - Chapter Five - The Fourth Initiation - The Crucifixion
Only one more Word of Power came forth from the darkness which shrouded the dying Christ. The moment of His death was prefaced by the words, "Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit." His first word and His last begin with the appeal: "Father" - for ever we are the children of God, and "If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together" (Romans, VIII, 17.); joint heirs of glory, but also joint heirs in the suffering which must be ours if the world is to be saved and humanity as a whole is to pass into the kingdom. The kingdom is in existence. Through the work of Christ and His living Presence in all of us there exists today, subjective as yet, but awaiting immediate tangible expression...

"One body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." (Eph., IV, 4, 5, 6.)

Furthermore, in words later used by Christ, the psalmist says, "Into thine hand I commit my spirit, for thou hast redeemed me." (Psalm XXXI, 5.) The implication here is clear. It is the spirit of life in Christ and in us which makes us sons of God, and it is that sonship (with its quality of divinity) which is the guarantee of our final accomplishment and entrance into the kingdom of spirit. The sign given is expressed in the words: "Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom." (St. Matt., XXVII, 51.) Access to God was established, and the inner spiritual forces could pass out without hindrance into manifestation. This was an act of God, a stupendous recognition by the Father of what His [225] Son had done. Spirit and matter were now one. All separating barriers were abolished, and man and God could meet and hold intercourse.

In an ancient scripture of India we read these words, spoken thousands of years ago, yet capable of being applied in a most significant manner to this act of Christ, which linked Him up not only with ourselves and all past believers prior to His advent, but with the Cosmic Christ, so unmistakably speaking here:

"Brahma, the self-effulgent meditated. He considered... Come, let me sacrifice myself in living things and all living things in Myself... He thus acquired greatness, self-effulgence, lordship and mastery."

In concluding this chapter upon the Crucifixion, let us consider what really was the purpose of Christ's sacrifice. Why did He die? We are told why most clearly in St. John's Gospel, and yet very little emphasis has been laid upon the statement. Only today are we beginning to understand the meaning of what He did. Only today is the wonder of His sacrifice beginning to dawn upon the minds of those whose intuition is awakened. He came primarily to do two things, upon both of which we have already touched: first of all, He came to found, or to materialize upon the earth, the kingdom of God; secondly, to show us what the love of God signified and how it expressed itself in service and in the eternal sacrifice of divinity upon the cross of matter. Christ stood as a symbol and also as an example. He revealed to us God's Mind, and showed us the pattern upon which we should mould our lives.

The kingdom and the service! These are the keynotes which today have in them that rallying power which the believers of the world demand. Christ shared with us, as a human being, the path of world experience. He mounted the Cross and showed us in His sacrifice and example what we had to do. He shared with us the way of life, because there was nothing else for Him to do, as He was a human [226] being. But He threw upon this life experience the radiant light of divinity itself, telling us also to "let our light shine." (St. Matt., V, 16.) He proclaimed Himself Man, and then told us that we were the children of God. He was with us then, and He is with us now, for He is in us all the time, although very often unrecognized and unapproached.

The outstanding lesson with which we are confronted is the fact that "...human nature as we know it can neither attain happiness without suffering, nor perfection without the sacrifice of itself." (Mirage and Truth, by M. B. D'Arcy, S. J., p. 179.) For us the kingdom constitutes the vision, but for Christ it was a reality. The service of the kingdom is our duty and also our method of release from the thralldom of human experience. We must grasp this; we must realize that we shall find release only in the service of the kingdom. We have been held too long by the dogmas of the past, and there is today a natural revolt against the idea of individual salvation through the blood sacrifice of Christ. This latter is the outer and more obvious teaching - but it is the inner meaning which really concerns us, and this we can sense only when we ourselves come face to face with that which dwells within. As the outer forms lose their power it frequently happens that the true significance emerges. This we have each to prove for himself. Frequently fear prevents us from being truthful and from facing facts. It is essential that today we face the problem of the relation of Christ to the modern world, and dare to see the truth, without any theological bias. Our personal experience of Christ will not suffer in this process. No modern view and no theology can take Christ away from the soul which has once known Him. That is outside the range of possibility. But it is quite possible that we may find the ordinary orthodox theological interpretation at fault. It is quite possible that Christ is far more inclusive than we have been led to believe, and that the heart of God the Father is far kinder [227] than those who have sought to interpret it. We have preached a God of love and have spread a doctrine of hate. We have taught that Christ died to save the world and have endeavored to show that only believers could be saved - though millions live and die without ever hearing of Christ. We live in a world of chaos, endeavoring to build a kingdom of God divorced from current daily life and the general economic situation, and at the same time postulate a distant heaven which we may some day attain. But Christ founded a kingdom on earth, wherein all God's children would have equal opportunity of expressing themselves as sons of the Father. This, many Christians find impossible to accept, and some of the best minds of the age have repudiated the idea.

Individual salvation is surely selfish in its interest and its origin. We must serve in order to be saved, and only can we serve intelligently if we believe in the divinity of all men and also in Christ's outstanding service to the race. The kingdom is a kingdom of servers, for every saved soul must without compromise join the ranks of those who ceaselessly serve their fellow men. Dr. Schweitzer, whose vision of the kingdom of God is so rare and real, points out this truth and its gradations of recognition in the following words:

"The descending stages of service correspond to the ascending stages of rule.

  1. Whosoever would become great among you, shall be your servant. (Mark X, 43.)
  2. Whosoever of you would be first, shall be bondservant of all (others). (Mark X, 44.)
  3. Therefore the Son of Man expected the post of highest rule because he was not come to be served but to serve, in giving his life as ransom for many. (Mark X, 45.)

"The climax is a double one. The service of the Disciples extended only to their circle: the service of Jesus to an unlimited number, namely, to all such as were to benefit by his suffering and death. In the case of the Disciples it was merely a question of [228] unselfish subjection: in the case of Jesus it meant the bitter suffering of death. Both count as serving, inasmuch as they establish a claim to a position of rule in the Kingdom."
- The Mystery of the Kingdom of God, by Albert Schweitzer, p. 75.

Love is the beginning, and love the end, and in love we serve and work. The long journey ends thus, in the glory of the renunciation of personal desire, and in the dedication to living service. [229]

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