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Imelda Shanklin: Jesus Christ Man and Savior

When the gods sit on Olympus and thunder their edicts to mortals below, we are dismayed rather than cheered by their utterances, stupefied by their mightiness rather than inspired by it. When the gods converse with us as immortal to immortal, we are warmed by the divine fires of their counsel. When they walk with us the association infuses a new blood into our veins and puts a new and life-instilling breath into our nostrils.

That which is so far removed from us as to exceed the farthest reaches of our faith humiliates us with a sense of our assumed finiteness. That which stands beyond our present grasp; which, though greater than we have believed ourselves to be, is yet accessible if we strive sufficiently, unleashes the divine impulses of the soul. At the release of the divine, there thrills through all of the life, a hope, a courage, and an aspiration which can never again be put in thrall to the finite. There is a new song in the heart, a clear-voiced prophecy:

"I shall be like him; for I shall see him even as he is."

When our theologies exhaust their resources in depicting a deity remote, aloof, and inaccessible, the lame of spirituality smolders in the ash of hopelessness. When our theologies expound a deity sulking over the offenses of our impotence, pettishly exacting where our ignorance makes us to blunder, despairing fatalism shrivels the soul with the conclusion:

"If God demand the impossible of me, it were as well not to try; the issue can but be his disfavor, which, notwithstanding my efforts, I now have incurred. Knowing that I cannot please, why should I seek to please?"

But when through the miracle of incarnation God sets human feet upon our earth; when he walks with us and talks with us in a daily comradeship; when he tries the ways of life which we must try; when he enters with us into the small as well as into the great perplexities; when he descends to the depths to which we descend; and, through all events retains both the theory and the practice of the God-hood, a divine enthusiasm is born in the soul. The hitherto impossible reveals itself as possible. The high, sweet yearnings of the heart become prescient of a literal fulfillment. We say:

"My Lord, and my God! Thy kingdom is at hand!"

If any incarnation were less than divine we were still without reasonable basis of hope. But unless at least one incarnation were transcendently divine, there were no assurance of a transcendental attainment. Were there no guide to conduct us, the journey from the morass of sense to the tablelands of Spirit could become an endless coping with the deceptions of false trails and the puzzles of environment.

The incarnation of the Deity is not a theme to be argued. It is disbelieved, or it is believed. The unbeliever is not to be convinced by the believer. Belief is the conclusion of a logic which has affinity for spiritual facts, and each soul must develop belief for itself.

The incarnation of the Deity is not a matter which comes within the proper offices of faith. It is unknown, or it is known. The one who does not know cannot be made to know by the one who knows. Knowing is a revelation, which, without warning, instantaneously lights up the heavens of consciousness and glows forevermore. No one can say when or how it will come. Its hour is not of time, but of preparation; its way is not fixed, but is as free as God himself. No one can say just what it will do for him. But it will change all of his life: Where ugliness was, beauty will be; where beauty was, it will be increased. The revealed knowing will protect the knower from the ignorance which he has not hitherto detected. It will explain what is otherwise inexplicable. It will transform disappointments into triumphs. It will make the wrath of man to praise God.

Finally: It will infuse the knower with its own arcane principle of all-knowing. Henceforth he shall know of life. He shall distinctly know that each man is the Deity struggling for self-recognition in each man.

The knower who the most certainly knows the fact of deific incarnation in himself, most certainly knows it of all. Hence Jesus Christ indorsed the Scripture:

"Ye are gods."

God incarnate testifies of himself in all the zones of self-recognition. The histories of mankind are volumes in the biography of God as man. The transcendent incarnation is our inspiration. It instructs us, and thereby prepares us for the illumination of self-recognition. Hence the challenge of Jesus Christ:

"If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do them, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know and understand that the Father is in me."

Jesus Christ was the transcendent incarnation of God. His works make this clear. The infusion of his all-knowing mind with the minds of those who have affinity for spiritual facts illumines the heavens of consciousness, and His most arcane utterances become simple.

In the period of incarnation, Jesus Christ had the form and the needs of a man. Therefore he was a man. He had the love and the power of God. Therefore he was God. He had a heart compounded of the heart of a man and the heart of God. Therefore he was both man and God. He did the works of God through the mediumship of his humanity. Therefore he was the savior of man.

In him God made most positive, most luminous incarnation. The light of self-recognition in Jesus Christ is the light of self-recognition in us. It shows us that the Spirit of God has touched the clay of Adam; that God inhabits the soul of man; that God builds the bodies which we call ours, and loves them as the precious representatives of his graciousness and his beauty.

While man is God incarnate, there is a principle in God which never incarnates. Jesus Christ mentioned this fact, when he said: "I came out from the Father, and am come into the world." There must be a bridge upon which God may go to incarnate man, and upon which incarnate man may go to God. Jesus Christ presented this truth in the illustration of the vine and its branches. Man and God must have access to each other. Jesus Christ is the means of access. Had he been all God he could not have been the savior of man, for there would have been no point of contact between the human and the divine. But in him the divine merged so perfectly with the human that through him humanity has ample contact with the Father.

Jesus Christ was subject to the needs of humanity. He hungered after his fast and he thirsted at the well of Jacob. In these demands of the physical were displayed his human nature. But he increased the supply of bread and fish, when in the desert, that his hungry listeners might not suffer. In this miracle work was displayed his divine nature.

Aweary, he was asleep in the boat when the storm broke. The man consciousness demanded of him the repose which it demands of us. The nonincarnating Principle sleeps not. "He that keepeth thee will not slumber." But Jesus Christ slept, as we sleep. Nevertheless, in that great last night of his experience as man, above the man desire for companionship and sympathy, he remembered his Godhood. "Sleep on now, and take your rest," he said to those who were not conscious that the most stupendous transaction in the world's life was at its crisis.

He was earthly enough to attend a wedding, and heavenly enough to supply the wine for the wedding feast.

He was so much a man that children were dear to him. So akin was he to human fatherhood that he put gentle arms about the babes; so truly was he of the divine Fatherhood that he blessed them with heavenly benedictions. He was so tender that he took the hand of the sick little girl and gave her an endearing word; he was so mighty that his touch lifted her from the bed of sickness and restored her to healthy childhood.

He was human enough to love Lazarus as one pure young man can love another pure young man; he was human enough to weep at the grave of his friend. But he was enough the savior of humanity to give the mourners the greatest truth in life, and savior enough to raise Lazarus from the couch of death.

He was man through the motherhood of Mary. He was God through the Fatherhood of God. He was man enough to die, and he was God enough to rise from the dead.

The signs of his man-divinity are traceable in each event which has been recorded of him in the annals of time. He is not now incarnate, in the sense in which we are incarnate; the textures of the incarnating mediums differ. But he has a body, assembled from the elements of the sphere in which he now chiefly functions.

He is not now less the man; he is more the savior. This is the divine order. The clay of Adam, having been touched by the Spirit of God, can nevermore be all clay. With the first contact it loses somewhat of its earthiness and takes on somewhat of the ethereal.

Jesus Christ actually lived in the conditions in which we live. He showed us how to apply the divine to the redemption of the human. Having been given the first lesson in the school of the Spirit, we must master and practice its teaching before the Preceptor can present to us the next lesson. "It is expedient for you that I go away," he said, explaining that we must let Spirit direct us as it had directed him. We must let it draw us after him, degree by degree, until, in mind and soul and body, we become like him.

Of Jesus Christ, the man-divinity, we say: "He was the savior of men." This is to speak of him in relation to the hour which is of time—the sweet, tender, unfaltering ministry in Palestine. When we speak of him in relation to the hour which is of preparation, we say: "He is the savior of men." When we speak of him in relation to the ultimate issue of his ministry universal, we say: "Through him all men shall be saved."

Through Jesus Christ the one God draws near to us; explains the mysteries of being; speaks encouragingly; assures us: "Your need and my ability are one."

By these means is the salvation from God wrought in the souls of men: belief in the human-divine power of Jesus Christ; belief in our own worthiness, since the effort of Jesus Christ is in our behalf; faithful application of the precepts and practices of Him, who, through self-revelation, was able to say:

"I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father, but by me." Son of God, thou incarnate Christ, work thy redeeming transformations in my mind and in my soul and in my body.