God's Law the Finality

When Jesus was brought to Jerusalem by his parents to become "a son of the law" the insight of this child made the rabbis in the temple wonder. When later as a man he himself appeared as a rabbi or teacher, his spiritual interpretations were opposed by scribes and Pharisees. They had a vast mass of traditions, glosses, interpretations, and commentaries, making the natural complexity of mortal mind beliefs into a "confusion worse confounded," so that the Master said, "Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition."

One of the Pharisees named Nicodemus came to visit Jesus, but dared not come with observation in the daytime. By night he came to find out if he could the mystery of godliness, which is after all no mystery but, if one might so call it, a simplicity,—quite patent to a child. Curiously, the thing simple and straight cannot be comprehended by one who deals in duplicity and puts trust in human scheming and runs for protection into "the refuge of lies." James reminds us that "a double minded man is unstable in all his ways." A small number of Anglo-Saxons who are single minded, scattered among some three hundred millions in India, interpret government to them because they understand the simplicity of justice and make promises not to deceive but as uttering truth, and because they stand by their word. The psalm speaks of the citizen of Zion who "sweareth to his own hurt, and changeth not," who will fulfill his promise even at disadvantage to himself because a promise is a promise. The complex, confused, polytheistic minds of those who trust more to mesmerism than to fair dealing in the open, being unable to rely on one another have come to rely on justice and law interpreted by those whose grasp of life's fundamental simplicity is in advance of theirs.

Nicodemus doubtless knew from experience the truth of Job's saying, "Man that is born of a woman is of few days, and full of trouble." Also he knew, no doubt, that Scripture truth which promises not trouble but peace, saying, "Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them." Coming then to a teacher who must have come he acknowledged him as a teacher who must have come from God. He acknowledged his works also, saying, "No man can do these miracle that thou doest, except God be with him." Jesus went at once to the center of things; he declared, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." The reply of Nicodemus showed that he had never been led to think of God as Life but conceived of life as a physical process, as if a man must continue always to be as one "born of a woman," and therefore as spoken of in Job, "born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward." This is the literary conception of life presented, for instance, in the vision of Mirza, where human beings are represented as making progress over a vast bridge wherein at intervals are trapdoors through which every one must, when his fate decrees, drop into the abyss of death. Jesus revealed that the Jewish ceremony whereby the child became "a son of the law" had in it the earnest of deeper things, and explained this when he said to his visitor, "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God."

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"Sanctify yourselves"
February 8, 1919

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