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Finding the real Jesus

From the February 20, 1995 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel

The December cover of Life magazine pictures the face of a bearded man with long, flowing hair. The eyes are kind, benevolent. Superimposed over the face is the question "WHO WAS HE?" A subheading continues: "Solving the mystery of Jesus and why it matters today."

Inside, the article's introduction observes that Jesus is portrayed by many people in many different ways, depending on the individual's personal faith and beliefs. Life points out that Jesus is considered by some to be the Son of God, by others as simply an inspired teacher, and by others a mythical figure invented specifically for political and religious purposes.

The main text of the article then follows with a series of observations that Life had elicited from people it describes as "eminent thinkers—including scholars, historians, theologians, clergy and an atheist." The magazine draws this conclusion: "Whether he lived or not, died on the cross or not, ascended or not, Jesus is alive in our time. To believers and nonbelievers alike, Jesus matters."

Because his life story has had such a profound impact on the world and on individual lives, it's little wonder that people naturally long to know whether he truly existed, to understand him, to discover the meaning of his life, to find the real Jesus.

There's no question that Jesus matters. And there's no question that he was here on this earth some two thousand years ago—born of a virgin; a boy who grew up in Judea; a man who taught in the synagogues, who healed the sick and redeemed sinners, who was crucified, resurrected, and who ascended. Jesus is Saviour and Master, Teacher and Exemplar, Son of God, the Prince of Peace.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered and founded Christian Science, writes extensively of Jesus' life, ministry, and teachings. In Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the Christian Science textbook, she describes Jesus this way: "Jesus demonstrated Christ; he proved that Christ is the divine idea of God—the Holy Ghost, or Comforter, revealing the divine Principle, Love, and leading into all truth."

Then Mrs. Eddy continues: "Jesus was the son of a virgin. He was appointed to speak God's word and to appear to mortals in such a form of humanity as they could understand and well as perceive" (p. 332).

Elsewhere, in the chapter "Atonement and Eucharist," Science and Health points to the effects of Jesus' lifework in this way: "Through the magnitude of his human life, he demonstrated the divine Life. Out of the amplitude of his pure affection, he defined Love. With the affluence of Truth, he vanquished error" (p. 54).

So, Jesus was not God but was divinely appointed to reveal spiritual reality to humanity. He so perfectly embodied the divine idea, Christ, that he could demonstrate unequivocally man's God-given dominion in every aspect of human experience. Again, as Science and Health explains: "Jesus was the highest human concept of the perfect man. He was inseparable from Christ, the Messiah,—the divine idea of God outside the flesh. This enabled Jesus to demonstrate his control over matter" (p. 482). Sickness and death could not dominate Jesus; rather he vanquished them. Sin and hate and evil could not rule him or deceive him; rather he cast them out as lies. He expressed the undiminished power of Life, the pure grace of Love, the absolute integrity of Truth.

Divine Life, Love, and Truth are Bible-based synonyms for God, revealing God's nature. And Jesus proved that it was man's nature—our nature—to reflect Life, Love, and Truth. In his healing and saving work, Jesus was demonstrating the actuality of our own pure and perfect spiritual being, our own wholeness, our own relation to God as His image and likeness.

This, in fact, points to how we find the real Jesus: through understanding what his God-directed works demonstrate of man's true being, and through emulating those works by our own scientifically Christian practice of metaphysical healing and regeneration. Jesus himself told his followers that they must steadfastly abide in his teachings to understand what is true. He said, "If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; and ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31, 32). It is only by going "into all the world" and practicing what Jesus taught and proved of divine reality that we can ever truly appreciate him and discover the meaning of his life.

Perhaps no one else can personally convey in a completely satisfactory way what Jesus should mean to you, or convince you through Biblical analysis or scholarly argument who the real Jesus is. But you can find him yourself. Studying the Bible, exploring Science and Health, and striving in all humility to do what he did and said we could do, will show each of us why his extraordinary example continues to live today and why he does matter so profoundly to us and our world. Through faith and spiritual understanding, through spiritual sense, through the practical demonstration of Christian healing, we find not only the real Jesus, we find our own real identity—the man of God's creating, the spiritual man with God-given dominion and power.

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