Perhaps no saying or teaching of the Master's has been more often misused than his reply to John the Baptist, to whom Jesus had applied for baptism. At the request John had demurred, professing his unworthiness even to loosen the latchet of the Saviour's shoes. Said Jesus in answer (Matt. 3:15), "Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness." While in one sense this was a concession to the physical rite, the true significance of the answer must be found not so much in the actual baptism with water as in the reason Jesus advanced for the observance —namely, "to fulfil all righteousness."

It can be said safely that Christ Jesus never in the slightest meaning or degree, in his teaching or in his practice, departed from the highest ethical standard of Principle. He could never have counseled concession to error as incumbent upon the fulfilling of all righteousness. Our Leader, Mary Baker Eddy, in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures," puts this ethical standard thus (p. 167): "Only through radical reliance on Truth can scientific healing power be realized."

When Jesus insisted upon the rite of water baptism, wherein did he conform to the standard of radical reliance upon Truth? John the Baptist had proclaimed his own mission and ministry (John 1:23): "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias." And Luke interpreted John's role thus (Luke 3:3): "And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins." Mrs. Eddy tells us (Miscellaneous Writings, p. 203), "Metaphysically, baptism serves to rebuke the senses and illustrate Christian Science." The rebuke of Science brings on the baptism of repentance, as well as spiritual regeneration.

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February 13, 1954

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