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"The full program of Christianity"
One of the most thrilling passages in the New Testament is to be found in the fourth chapter of Luke, which records the first public appearance in Nazareth of Christ Jesus as a religious teacher. The full significance of this passage is not grasped, however, unless we relate it to the preceding account of his temptation and great victory in the wilderness, an experience from which he returned to Galilee "in the power of the Spirit." We are told that he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, as was his custom, and stood up to read what were probably familiar words from the prophecy of Isaiah, but which took on a new meaning when followed by the impressive statement, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." The passage itself, coming to us through the Greek, reads: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord."
This passage, which some one has called "the full program of Christianity," must have awakened high hopes on the part of some who were present, when they were told that all its gracious promises were awaiting fulfilment in their very midst. Had not the psalmist also said that God "healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds"? It is not likely that any one had ever questioned the power of Him whose "understanding is infinite" to do all this, but the very fact that Jesus' auditors "wondered" at the words which he spoke, shows that their mental attitude was exactly the same as that of the many today. Even in this age there are those who would stoutly resist any attempt to curtail these passages of Holy Writ, but would as strenuously deny their practical application to the healing of human woe, whether it be mental or physical. We read that some of those who were present were so filled with wrath when Jesus spoke of the cleansing of lepers, that they attempted to take his life when he sought to bring to them life "more abundantly."
It is, however, good to know that evil cannot overpower the divine purpose. Although there were some long centuries of silence between Jesus' day and our own time, the healing word is again heard, accompanied by the "power of the Spirit" as in his ministry. Humanity could not and should not be content with a partial and incomplete statement of Christianity, and as our revered Leader reminds us, God's angels bring anew the message of the ever-present Christ, "whisper it, through faith, to the hungering heart in every age" (Science and Health, p. 482). Those who are satisfied with materiality, or in bondage to it, fail to hear or heed the message, although the word ever is, "Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts." Why should any one harden his heart against the gracious offer of complete deliverance, whether the need be mental or physical? In the Psalms we read, "The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart." Christian Science is proving this statement true today, even where sentence of death has been passed, when the sense of sin and sorrow has done its utmost, and the learning of this world declares that the physical organism manifests the condition indicated by the psalmist's words. If God, the infinite power, the only power, is nigh to one, can sorrow crush that one, or kill him by controlling the action of his heart? It is not possible.
Jesus read from the good book that God, divine Love, had sent him "to heal the brokenhearted," and shall any doubt or question that divine Love is as ready to do this now as when Jesus announced it in the synagogue at Nazareth? True, there were centuries of doubt and denial between Isaiah's day and that of the Master; but this mattered nothing to him, nor does it matter that many more have intervened between that day and ours, for "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years." Again, we read in the Christian Science text-book (p. 45), "Glory be to God, and peace to the struggling hearts!" Is not this the message which we should carry with us into the duties, the cares, and the toils of each day, that peace and new strength may gladden the eventide? God has all this, and no less, for those who will accept it.
Annie M. Knott.
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