The Divine Will

Underlying the whole field of the gospel narratives is a precious vein wherein the diligent searcher, intent upon finding the gold, may discover rich deposits to reward his industry and application. The story of the healing of the leper, told in the fifth chapter of Luke's gospel, reveals a gleaming gem and affords a striking view of a great metaphysical truth. It is recorded that this unfortunate man in deep humility "fell on his face" when he saw Jesus, and besought the Master to heal his affliction. "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean," he cried. Swift and authoritative was the reply, "I will: be thou clean." And we read that "immediately the leprosy departed from him."

At first view it would appear that Jesus here acknowledged his own ability to perform the healing, but this incident cannot be isolated or considered apart from others of its kind, nor can the words Jesus spoke be dissociated from other utterances which make up the whole of his public teaching. Upon a great occasion, when his authority to perform the healing works was openly challenged, he said, "I can of mine own self do nothing;" and when pressed by the Jews for a statement of the source of his power he replied, "The Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works." Continually he disclaimed any underived authority or power, and he laid no claim to a special dispensation in his own behalf. He simply affirmed by his spoken words, his outward acts, his simple bearing, and his conduct before men, that he was the humble instrument of a higher power, to which he yielded full obedience.

The Master's reply to the leper at once reminds us of the Old Testament name for God which was born out of Moses' clear understanding of the Supreme Being,—"I am that I am." Such an ascription signified the patriarch's vision of the never-ending, always-existing, unchanging nature of God. Jesus had gained this same exalted view. He could say to the leper, "I will," because he knew the omnipresence of the healing Principle. The leper's prayer, in fact, had been answered before it was uttered. It had, strictly speaking, been answered "from the foundation of the world." The attitude of the "I am" could never by reason of its perfection be aught but "I will" toward the yearning desire of a humble and contrite heart.

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June 24, 1916

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