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"But whom say ye that I am?"

From the December 1981 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Have you ever wished that the Master, Christ Jesus, were present today? Perhaps he might heal you of some longstanding physical ailment, or you might be one of the multitude who would see and hear him. If we find our thought drifting in this direction, we should ask ourselves whether we understand the real import of Jesus' mission.

With his lifework fast approaching a climax, Jesus apparently felt an urgency to know if his disciples understood his true mission. He withdrew to Caesarea Philippi. Here he asked them what the people were saying about him. They answered that men thought he might be one of the revered Hebrew prophets returned to earth. With renewed urgency he implored, "But whom say ye that I am?"Matt. 16:15.

Mrs. Eddy pointedly rephrases the question: "This renewed inquiry meant: Who or what is it that is able to do the work, so mysterious to the popular mind?" Science and Health, p. 137. Simon Peter's unprecedented reply gave Jesus the needed assurance: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God." Matt. 16:16.

However faintly, Peter had glimpsed that it was God Himself who inspired Jesus' healing work. God gives the power to heal. After the crucifixion and the resurrection, the underlying Principle of Jesus' teachings came into focus more clearly for the disciples. Mrs. Eddy explains, "After gaining the true idea of their glorified Master, they became better healers, leaning no longer on matter, but on the divine Principle of their work." Science and Health, p. 47.

How wonderful that the disciples had witnessed the Word "made flesh" in Christ Jesus! It is vital that we, as present-day disciples, love and appreciate the unsurpassed example of our Master. Deeper yet must be our own discernment of his mission. In this searching, we need to refuse any mystical sense of reliance on the personal Jesus or on a personalized concept of the Christ.

We may be tempted to try to take a material approach to Truth. For example, do we find ourselves thinking that only a certain person or circumstance can bring us comfort? Or, conversely, that only we can bring the solution to a particular problem? Do we inaudibly or audibly lament, "I guess I'll just have to live with difficulty—the light doesn't seem to come as clearly as it used to"? Or, "If I can just get home, I'll be all right"? Or, "I'll feel more like myself tomorrow"? In these and similar instances, aren't we, in belief, limiting the operation of divine law and attempting the impossible — that is, attempting to place Christ, Truth, within a material framework of person, place, or time?

Mrs. Eddy provides us an unfailing clue to discerning the Christ-mission. She says, "The purpose of his life-work touches universal humanity." Miscellaneous Writings, p. 29. The Christ, which Jesus so clearly exemplified, is ever present. The Master gave proof that the Christ operates in consciousness; it is not confined to a person or a place. The Christ is infinitely available; it cannot be withheld for a more convenient moment, nor is it designed for another time frame. Christ, Truth, is instantly ready and fully prepared to meet any challenge. Space and time hold no limitations for the presence of the Christ. Christ's ever-presence operates in consciousness, revealing man's eternal unity with God. The Bible assures us, "Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us." Heb. 9:24.

We begin to see, then, that the Christ is not invoked at the beck and call of human consciousness. On the other hand, it does not usually appear in our experience without an earnest yearning and striving for Truth on our part. The humble thought, not the physical ear; the expectant heart, not human outlining or emotion—these are the basis of true receptivity to the divine plan. Mrs. Eddy writes, "Not personal intercommunion but divine law is the communicator of truth, health, and harmony to earth and humanity." Science and Health, p. 72.

This was graphically illustrated in the experience of a friend. When only a small child, she was separated from her mother because of the mother's illness. She and her brother lived in the homes of different relatives. Although she had no recollection of a family life with her own mother and father, she hungered for the comforting love a mother uniquely provides. One night, while still a preschooler, she asked God to send her mother home to her.

The words "Christian Science" were completely unknown to this child or to anyone else in the family, including the mother. But not long afterward a Christian Science practitioner who was visiting a woman in the hospital bed next to the child's mother offered the mother a copy of the Christian Science textbook, Science and Health by Mrs. Eddy. The mother had been longing to return to her family and was willing to look into anything that might result in a reunion. The light of the Christ dawned while she read the textbook, and she realized the need to love—to replace her deep-seated resentment over past experiences. With the help of this practitioner, the mother accepted the healing truths of Christian Science, and within two years the family was reunited.

How constant and universally adaptable is the Christ, embodied in Jesus' great mission! Mrs. Eddy saw this with unparalleled vision: "Christ is the true idea voicing good, the divine message from God to men speaking to the human consciousness." Ibid., p. 332.

The Word of God is not an intermittent message. It is a continuing revelation given full explanation in divine Science, the Comforter. God's work is done. He alone is responsible for its eternal, infinite unfoldment. Jesus accomplished his healing and saving mission perfectly, and the promised Comforter has come in the discovery of divine Science. Are we stretching our mental vistas to grasp the deep import of the Master's insistent question, "But whom say ye that I am"? As we strive to become ever more consistent witnesses of Christ, Truth, we will find ourselves depending less and less on material sense. With God's help, we will fulfill our Christly mission with inspired certainty.

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