Hoping to find some pretext for refuting Jesus' teachings, the Pharisees and scribes often asked him questions. Some-times they questioned him concerning tribute, or asked whether an adulteress should be stoned, or by what authority he did his works. In every case Jesus vanquished their cunning with Christly wisdom.
We read that one day "a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 10:25.) This question, "What shall I do?" is often asked today. When honestly put, it reveals the desire to do right. It reveals the yearning of the human heart for something higher, something that will no longer disappoint, something conclusive. It shows that one has reached the point where he is willing to leave the old, where he is convinced that he can accomplish higher and better things. Self-will, pride, and self-righteousness then yield to humility, selflessness, and obedience.
"What shall I do to inherit eternal life?" According to the Biblical narrative the lawyer professed that he wanted to inherit eternal life. Although the Master was aware that this question was intended to tempt him, he took the query seriously. Perhaps the lawyer expected that in answer to his question he would be given personal advice, an answer adapted only to him. He was evidently surprised when Jesus answered at once with a counterquestion, referring to the Mosaic law. "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" he asked.
To Jesus' counterquestion the lawyer gave a prompt and entirely satisfactory reply. It embraced the entire law and the prophets. He said, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself."
It is not surprising that Jesus approved this answer, for surely it conveyed the full scope, the blessed significance, the satisfying extent of divine relationship. These words brought the numerous details of the Mosaic law under one common denominator, namely man's love for God and man's love for his brother. The law, so interpreted, demands that men direct all volition and effort, all idealism, all energies in the one direction which promises success.
We should ask ourselves: "What can I do to bring more harmony into my home, more success to my business, greater health to my body, and to provide adequate supply for me and mine? What must I do to be a useful member of a Church of Christ, Scientist, a successful practitioner?" Mortal mind, because of indolence and self-love, would tempt us to let opportunities pass unheeded. But the opportunities become demands. We learn that obedience to truth removes toil and trouble from human life while disobedience brings problems.
"Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind." On page 9 of "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures" Mary Baker Eddy writes, "This command includes much, even the surrender of all merely material sensation, affection, and worship." Happiness is found by one who consecrates himself to God without condition or reservation, without restraint or restriction. To such a one it is no task to love his neighbor as himself. To love oneself means to see oneself as God's reflection, as a spiritual idea, as Love's expression. To acknowledge the same for one's neighbor means to love him as oneself.
As we have already said, the Master approved of the lawyer's answer to the question, "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" for he said, "Thou hast answered right." These few words indicate that the lawyer was well versed in the letter of the law, that he had mastered it theoretically. But then Jesus uttered those words so fraught with significance: "This do, and thou shalt live."
This precise instruction, the clarity of which leaves nothing to be desired, points to the need to bridge over the gulf between the letter and the spirit—between theory and practice, word and deed. Surely everyone knows that if he had always done what he knew to be right, and were to do today the good he knows how to do, his life would be less complicated. How often we hear the remark, "I am like Paul, who said (Rom. 7:18), 'To will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.'"
Without Christian Science the individual would find it difficult to cope with the apparent incapacity of mortal mind. Instead, he is likely to take refuge in the fatalistic point of view which would undermine man's ability to gain perfection. Christian Science, on the other hand, bridges the wide gulf between dogma and demonstration by awakening in human consciousness the spiritual apprehension that God gives to man perfect capacity and ability to demonstrate Truth. In proportion to this understanding, the ifs and buts of mortal mind, which always resists the resolution to do right, are overcome.
As we express God, good, we see life in its true simplicity, uncomplicated and free from problems. Failure to express good in our daily activity appears to bring dissension, complexity, and uncertainty into our experience. Did not James say (4:17), "To him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin"? The true understanding of God's demands is accompanied by such joy that right doing becomes spontaneous.
"This do, and thou shalt live." Someone has rightly said, "If we keep the Commandments, the Commandments will keep us." They sustain us in life. Keeping the Commandments, or fulfilling the divine law, brings spiritual gain into our lives, gain which otherwise could never be acquired. Logically, then, consistency on our part in expressing this divinely ordained activity must bring more and more enduring good into our experience until any interruption of good becomes an impossibility; thus we understand eternal life.
Christ Jesus was our Exemplar not only in his teaching, but also in his actions. Is it presumptuous of us to emulate his work of comforting, releasing, forgiving, healing, restoring to life? Jesus himself said (John 14:12), "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also." It is God's authority by which we must act, His law we must fulfill. It is His understanding that enlightens us, His glory which is revealed in and through us.
In this true consciousness we sanctify ourselves. Thus we love God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength, and with all our mind: we love our neighbor as our self; and doing this, we demonstrate eternal life.