"Whom say ye that I am?"
It is apparent to the student of the four Gospels that as Jesus progressed in his holy ministry he became increasingly convinced of the sacred importance of his mission. As the understanding grew upon him that he was the very Messiah, with all that this conviction implied, he saw the necessity of impressing his followers as to his status and position as Saviour and Way-shower to mankind. Otherwise, his message, per se, might not carry the weight it deserved. Its source must be known. If, as many believed, he was just another teacher, a rabbi, preaching to the people, with only the inspiration and authority common to his class, his holy mission would not be recognized and his message would fail. But knowing as he did that he was commissioned of God to reveal to humanity the Christ, Truth, which alone is its Saviour, then he must be known in his true role as the Son of God, the Anointed, the Redeemer of mankind.
None can gainsay that the long hours devoted to prayer in holy communion with his Father, God, brought the assurance which gave authority to his words and enabled him to convince his sympathetic followers both of his relation to God and of his mission as the Messiah. It was out of the depth of understanding as to his spiritual status that he could declare, "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Without this absolute conviction as to his real nature and the mission to which he had been commissioned, his words might, indeed, have sounded hollow. When uttered with divine authority, they were fraught with tremendous import to humanity. The problem, then, which he faced was to convince his disciples, and as many others as possible, of his status as the Son of God. His purpose was in no sense to exalt his human personality, but to reveal God as the loving Father, ever prepared to meet the needs of humanity.
No better evidence of Jesus' unquenchable desire that he be known in his true role of Messiah appears in the Gospels than the experience related in the sixteenth chapter of Matthew. Yearning to be understood, one day at Caesarea Philippi, he suddenly asked his disciples, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" Was he merely a mortal, a rabbi, born of the flesh? To his query came the reply, "Some say that thou art John the Bapist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets." This reply proves that his divinity and mission were not understood. Dissatisfied with the answer, and determined to elicit their own view of himself, he put the query directly, "But whom say ye that I am?" Others might not have caught the spirit of his words and works. The people might be excused for misunderstanding him. But his beloved disciples who had companioned with him day by day, surely they could have no such excuse. And one at least did know. Impetuous Peter knew, and out of his spiritual perception declared, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Can we realize the depth of joy, the profundity of the satisfaction which rose in Jesus' heart that even one of his disciples had discovered his spiritual status? How significantly do his words convey the depth of his gratitude! "Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven." Jesus knew that only God through His Christ could have so illumined Peter's thought as to reveal to him the fundamental truth of his nature and mission. Jesus was fully aware that the revelation of Truth is understood in its true, its deepest import, only as the nature and character of its divinity is understood.
Christian Scientists gain an important lesson from this experience related of Jesus and Peter. They accept Christian Science as Divine Science because of their conviction that it has the same authority as has the message of the Master. And because of this fact, they accord to Mrs. Eddy her rightful place as revelator, Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science. She, too, well knew the importance to the world of the recognition that her discovery had a divine origin, that it is the complete and final revelation of the Science through which divine Principle always operates; that it is, in fact, the Science which enabled Christ Jesus to do his many wondrous works—wondrous only to material sense. Mrs. Eddy was convinced that what seemed miraculous in Jesus' work was in reality due to the operation of spiritual law, with the Science of which he was perfectly familiar.
In her many efforts to convince humanity of the value of her revelation, Mrs. Eddy was in no wise actuated by the desire to exalt her human personality. She invariably urged her students to follow not her human self, but the Christ she so effectually revealed. She was, however, thoroughly convinced that her position as revelator and Leader should be fully recognized.
Without the recognition of its divine origin, the revelation of Christian Science would not be accepted and appraised at its full value. Mrs. Eddy must be known as appointed of God to be the revelator of Divine Science. The necessity was that her students should accord to her her rightful position. "When He commissions a messenger, it is one who is spiritually near Himself," she writes in "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" (p. 455). God spoke through her as surely as He spoke through the Founder of Christianity, for Christian Science supplements and completes the revelation of Jesus. It provides the scientific significance of what he said and did, thus making Christ, Truth, available to all ready to accept and utilize it.
On page 560 of Science and Health, under the marginal heading, "True estimate of God's messenger," Mrs. Eddy writes: "Heaven represents harmony, and divine Science interprets the Principle of heavenly harmony. The great miracle, to human sense, is divine Love, and the grand necessity of existence is to gain the true idea of what constitutes the kingdom of heaven in man. This goal is never reached while we hate our neighbor or entertain a false estimate of anyone whom God has appointed to voice His Word. Again, without a correct sense of its highest visible idea, we can never understand the divine Principle."
Only through prayerful study of the Scriptures in their relation to the second appearing of the Christ will an adequate understanding of Mrs. Eddy's revelation be gained. And it follows with no degree of uncertainty that the revelation will not be understood in the breadth and depth of its precious import without an understanding and recognition of the Discoverer and Founder in her relation to prophecy.
Mrs. Eddy was keenly alive to the reluctance of mortals to hold commerce with things of the Spirit. This tendency would have both denied to her the status of God's messenger and deprived the revelation of its scientific value. Of the necessity and duty of Christian Scientists to gain and hold the true concept of her as revelator there appears on page vii of the Foreword to "The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany" a statement from The Christian Science Journal: "Strive it ever so hard, The Church of Christ, Scientist, can never do for its Leader what its Leader has done for this church; but its members can so protect their own thoughts that they are not unwittingly made to deprive their Leader of her rightful place as the revelator to this age of the immortal truths testified to by Jesus and the prophets."
As Mrs. Eddy's status as revelator, Discoverer, Founder, and Leader of Christian Science is generally recognized, her place in the divine economy will be acknowledged. Then her words will assume their rightful authority and be more nearly evaluated at their true worth.
Copyright, 1938, by The Christian Science Publishing Society, One, Norway Street, Boston, Massachusetts. Entered at Boston post office as second-class matter. Acceptance for mailing at a special rate of postage provided for in section 1103, Act of October 3, 1917, authorized on July 11, 1918.