Roughly 2000 years ago, Christ Jesus appeared on the human scene. Christian agree universally that Jesus was the most significant man, the holiest man, and the highest possible human representative of God ever to have appeared on earth, either before or since. So extraordinary and unconventional was the thought of Jesus with respect to his fellow man, that exactly what his nature was, what it was that spiritually distinguished Jesus so remarkably from all other men either before or after him, exactly what empowered him to have complete dominion over every and all material circumstances, was not and still is not universally understood or interpreted in the same way by every Christian. His followers became Christians and defined a new mode of thought and understanding of the world called Christianity, but the practice of this new mode of thought became as complex and varied as the many human attempts to understand it were and are. A lack of a uniform understanding of Jesus resulted in a confused and inconsistent Christianity because his well intending followers went different in directions in their attempts to understand his teachings. The result was many differing Christian theologies, all of which approximate Jesus’ intended teachings to varying degrees. Jesus’ teachings, his healing, his apparently miraculous actions, defied conventional explanations and traditional human logic. Most however will agree that in spite of the varying interpretations of the truth, there is in fact only one real and absolute Truth, and that is the truth that Jesus intended to transmit to mankind through his teaching. The teaching as it came from Jesus’ mouth was correct and the interpretations, understandings and misunderstandings of it were many.
Today, science seems to be engaged in a battle against religion and faith. As material science advances, scientific thought believes that it finds increasingly more evidence in favor of simply ruling out religion. That which is not scientifically logical receives increasingly less recognition and respect as human thought trends towards the need for empirical proofs. If faith is destined to stand, it must face the resistance of the thought of today’s scientific materialism.
But, do science and religion really disagree? Could there be an invisible bridge between Christianity and Science, and could Christianity actually be scientific in some different sense than that to which human thought is accustomed?
Jesus’ highest and final acts, his submission to crucifixion by his enemies, his human death and the subsequent resurrection of the very same material body that his enemies killed, and finally Jesus’ ascension, the complete disappearance of his fleshly form to the human senses, were even more baffling than his healings and miracles. But, must there not be some sort of invisible and poorly understood scientific explanation behind Jesus’ life? Did Jesus break the rules of physics by a mystical and never to be explainable application of the power of God, to which only He and his chosen ones were granted the power power to execute? Or is there some other more consistent and more explainable set of principles that governed how these works occurred?
Isn’t it reasonable to assume that instead of performing seemingly magical miracles through a God who is never supposed to be understood, that Jesus was instead attempting to explain an entirely new mental frame of reference about God to the world, which his observers in general were not able to grasp? Could it not be that what Jesus did was truly logical and not miraculous at all, when understood from the spiritual perspective he was attempting to further, and actually scientific when viewed from this new and advanced spiritual frame of reference? If we believe in the powers demonstrated by Jesus through his healings and his apparent miracles, and we accept them to be true and to have taken place as recorded, is it not reasonable to also conclude that what are known as Jesus’ miracles, were actually and still are, based on scientific and repeatable God-based divine principles of which Jesus had a superior understanding, and of which his observers (then and still now) did not? Is it not reasonable that Jesus intended to take away the sins of the world by teaching and making manifest this new spiritual perspective in the lives of humans?
Would it have been principled on the part of God to say that Jesus, through his unique and special relationship with God, caused God to break his own physical rules in the performing of miracles? If Jesus defied physical law through his healing and works, then who sanctioned physics? Would God establish a working principle (physics) and then sometimes cancel that standard under special circumstances? Could it be that the rules of physics are in fact not sanctioned by God, but by the universal beliefs of carnal man? Is it not possible that the only laws Jesus defied were those not sanctioned by God? Could it not be that it was Jesus’ intention to rouse mankind to an entirely different point of view than the physical one through which mankind was so convinced and accustomed, and to teach mortals to be able to do the same for themselves and for the benefit of the advancement of mankind?
Clearly, an open mind free of dogmatic assumptions is necessary if there is any hope of making real sense of Jesus and his teachings. Could it be that many Christians throughout the ages with the best of intentions partially misunderstood Jesus’ point and purpose? All agree that Jesus’ primary purpose was to take away the sins of the world. But just how did he suggest that be done? Most Christians today say that Jesus already did this and that his death on the cross was the ultimate sacrifice to atone for the sins of the world. This traditional line of theology also assumes that Jesus’ resurrection was an indication that Jesus was Deity, God in human form. Some who follow this line of reasoning believe that, to be saved, we have only to believe on Jesus as our Savior, some saying that he already did all of the suffering for us. Many Christians also maintain that the ancient Judaic ritual of the blood sacrifice of goats, sheep, and doves was a requirement of God to atone for sins, and that the blood sacrifice of Jesus was a permanent replacement for these more primitive animal sacrifices.
Idealistic healing Christians believe that the sacrifice required by God is not one of material blood, but a sacrifice of what is most near and dear to humans – life in matter itself. They maintain that Jesus’ sacrifice of his material human existence was completely unrelated to the ancient Mosaic requirement for an organic blood sacrifice. The sacrifice of Jesus’ human life and the associated suffering, they say, would bring man back to the realization of his true spiritual nature, free from material and evil influences and revealing a completely spiritual realm of existence that is the Kingdom of Heaven already within us. Jesus suffered and died on the cross and was resurrected for us, so that we would finally understand man’s true immortal nature and grasp that ultimately, death is to be overcome, not submitted to. Jesus understood that real life is only in Spirit, and humanly he only lived spiritually. Nothing with an origin outside of God got in his way. These Christians believe that Jesus’ mission also was to explain by demonstration that the material world is only the belief in, and complete conviction of erring human thought, first originated by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Jesus truly sacrificed his own human material life. The idealistic Christian healer says that his crucifixion and resurrection eradicated any evidence of temptation that might have tried to make itself present in his human thought. He did this for us, and for our example, but not to remove any responsibility on our part for our own salvation. Because of Jesus example, they say, we need not endure the torture of dying by execution to realize our freedom from sin on earth, but we must exercise that freedom. Healing Christians also say that no every day human being, but only one with a higher divine anointing than what we all presently possess, could have been able to make this demonstration for us, and that Jesus Christ possessed an understanding of our link with the Father that was superior to that of any other earthly human being. And this faction of healing believers supports the conclusion that Jesus was not God Himself, but rather the highest possible representation of God, His Son, the Christ, by the many references Jesus made to his Father, by the many instances of necessity for him to commune with his heavenly Father in challenging situations. and by his many statements about his inability to do anything on his own, but that the works were done through His Father.
This group of healing Christians believe that one always suffers for sin as long as one is committing sin, but that the punishment ends with true repentance. This true repentance is atonement itself, and was exemplified by Jesus’ eradication of the sin of many with whom he came into contact during his ministry. This spiritual healing faction understands Jesus to be the spiritual son of God, but that his teaching and preaching indicate that Jesus was not God in human form – but that Jesus was the Christ, The Messiah, the divinely anointed who came to show followers how to rid themselves of sin through manifesting their spiritual God-nature as Jesus did, and by learning to heal the sick and to forgive sin and to overcome death also as Jesus did. He taught true atonement – how to demonstrate one’s unity with God by example. To this body of belief, sin takes on a different and deeper meaning, including the false recognition of power in anything having characteristics unlike the perfect and eternal God. This set of believers maintains that sin cannot not be repented of, except on an an individual basis of personal commitment. Such believers insist that Jesus’ sufferings could not be a substitute for our own, for there is no escaping the suffering resulting from wrong-doing. They maintain that the crucufixion and resurrection served as the ultimate example of what we ourselves must also suffer and sacrifice in order to begin to start down the heavenly road that Jesus followed.
Whatever interpretation of Jesus’ life is the correct one, we all agree as well that human nature is seldom willing to admit to having erred in perception, especially because human history tends to endorse human assumptions. The longer a false assumption is believed, the more resistance to change appears. True or false, societal authorities tend to endorse historical trends in belief, and to firmly reject ideas which are out of the ordinary for their era.
Some famous examples of such rejections by societal authorities are: 1) The rejection and the later acceptance of the science of the operation of the solar system as explained by Copernicus. And 2) The rejection and later acceptance of the concept of a spherical rather than a flat earth. Similarly, when Jesus began his ministry, which was quite an unorthodox theology for his time, it met extreme resistance from the Judaic leaders of the his time, who insisted that their old theology based on Moses and the Law were not to be questioned and were beyond reproach. How dare Jesus present such blasphemy, to use the Pharisee’s own terms! In the same vain, those who follow Jesus teachings today as they best know how to interpret them, and consider themselves to be devout Christians might also not fully understand the revelations about spiritual existence that Jesus was trying to show and teach. Is it not a present possibility that factions of today’s Christianity may also be, with the best of intentions, like the Pharisees, holding on to old and unquestioned theologies which could be preventing the very growth in spiritual understanding that they innerly desire to experience?
Seekers of truth with open minds consider new premises as present possibilities. Those firmly rooted in dogmatic theology, however, are already prepared to abandon ship on theological ideas which do not conform to historical convention. This article presents some possible alternative options about the nature of existence and life, and suggests that these options also stand true on the basis of a significant amount of tangible evidence of spiritual healing accumulated over the past 150 years or so, as a result of a more recent understanding of the meaning of Jesus’ life as revealed in a method of examining the meaning of Christianity, known as Christian Science.
The author believes the nature of Jesus’ teachings and works to be based upon fundamental but generally unknown and misunderstood spiritual principles which Jesus received and understood better than all other mortal men. He was the link between mortality and immortality. Even Jesus’ virgin birth whispered the message that conception itself, though masked in the cloak of material manifestation, is actually spiritual in nature. Jesus’ teachings introduced to humanity a new and radical spiritual frame of reference. Through divine revelation, he learned to understand his God-assigned life-purpose early on. He spent the majority of his life in preparation for his relatively short ministry. Virtually all that was recorded about him took place only during the last 3 years of his human life.
What was the purpose of this 3 year span of teaching and healing ministry? Did God create a set of physical laws, and then then through an exhibition of power make special exceptions to natural law by special powers granted to Jesus? Can our sins be forgiven and cancelled on account of this great and special exception to nature? If so, then what was then really the purpose of Jesus’ teaching? Why did Jesus assign to his most promising students the task of going out into the world to heal sickness? If these healing acts were only for Jesus’ times, what was the purpose of his teaching his students to reproduce them?
Let’s examine some of what Jesus said of himself, what Jesus said of God and his relationship to Him, and what Jesus taught. Concerning his relationship to God, Jesus continually and repeatedly prayed to God in name, referring to himself as the son of God. Sometimes when referring to himself as a human, Jesus referred to himself as the Son of man. Some of his followers and even those who did not know him personally referred to him as the Son of David, indicating their respect for his lineage to the family of David. Could Jesus have meant for people to believe him to be God himself in human form when he continually referred to himself as his Son, and continually and deliberately prayed to and addressed God in prayer? He clearly received his instructions from God, as exemplified when he said (John 5:30) ” I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me….John 14: 31 …that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so do I.”
Jesus did however repeatedly affirm his qualitative unity with God, as well as his identity as the highest human representative of Christ in John 10: 24-30 ” Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” Some question whether Jesus meant that he was one in quality or one in quantity with God. The answer to that question lies in consideration of Jesus’ other often repeated statements about the nature of his spiritual Sonship, and the fact that he clearly prayed to God, while emphasizing that his power was not his own.
That Jesus taught others how to apply his new and less than traditional understanding of God to the world is clear in the accounts of his sending his best students into the world to heal sickness See Mark 6:7-12: “And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits; And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse: But be shod with sandals; and not put on two coats. And he said unto them, In what place soever ye enter into an house, there abide till ye depart from that place. And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. And they went out, and preached that men should repent. And they cast out many devils, and anointed with oil many that were sick, and healed them. And king Herod heard of him; (for his name was spread abroad:) and he said, That John the Baptist was risen from the dead, and therefore mighty works do shew forth themselves in him.”
Not only did Jesus send out students to heal, he also encouraged his best students to teach as he did. Matthew adds to the above account that Jesus commanded his students to (Mathew 10:8) ” Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” Not only did he command his own disciples to heal, but he added that it was only necessary to be a sincere follower of his teachings and to grasp his meanings in order to do the works that he did. John 14:12 tells us that Jesus also addressed his disciples as follows: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.” Notice that the condition for being able to do these works is to believe on him. This text says “He that believeth” , and it does not specifically address the 12 disciples personally, thus indicating that the power to heal is available to all who believe and understand Jesus teachings, for all time. Is it possible that perhaps those who, with the best intentions, fail to heal as Jesus did, have not yet arrived at the requisite level of spiritual understanding to heal?
Perhaps “the salt of the earth” hints at the attainment of this understanding of our spiritual relationship with God as illustrated by Jesus’ wonderful works, which we must first attain, and then retain in order to make spirtual demonstrations of the goodness of God as Jesus taught. (Mathew 5 13-16) “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Jesus’ teachings and acts exemplifying and manifesting the presence of God extended to all of the aspects of existence, not just to bodily health, healing, and the elimination of sin. Jesus had many wise words about supply, money, and food. He wisely demonstrated the abundance of supply when he fed the 5 thousand in the wilderness. Consider his words about supply from Luke 12:27 “Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.If then God so clothe the grass, which is to-day in the field, and to-morrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith?And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. But rather seek ye the knigdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Those with open minds sincerely seeking Truth are already open to the possibility that we must search below the surface of traditional theology to find the spiritual meaning of Jesus’ life. In Jesus’ time, only a small number of believers initially comprehended enough to follow him and to become real Christians. But it was results and fruitage – the appearance of abundant physical healing, of regenerated lives, of resurrection from the dead, the Holy Ghost literally made manifest in human lives by actually taking away the sins of the world, that drew followers to Christianity in the first few centuries after the life of Jesus.
The same is true today. Nearly 150 years ago, in 1866, the Science of Christ was brought to the attention of the world through the discovery of Christian Science, the missing link between faith and science. A truly practical and scientific explanation of the power of prayer was explained and brought to the attention of the modern world by Mary Baker Eddy in 1875 through her most revolutionary and extraordinary Christian work entitled, Science and Health with Key to The Scriptures. Jesus’ healing works and the works of the early Christian church are often viewed by traditionalists as miraculous, not explainable, even mystical. Christian Science presents the explanation of Christian healing as taught and practiced by Jesus as a method of thinking, and as a way of living that thought. It reveals that effective prayer is much more than a mere request for God’s goodness and help. Prayer as practiced from this point of view teaches that we can learn to pray just as Jesus did, “whose humble prayers were deep and conscientious protests of Truth – of man’s likeness to God, of man’s unity with Truth and Love” (Mary Baker Eddy).
The discovery and application of this Science of Christ silences discord and brings healing to every avenue of thought into which it enters, and refreshes Christianity with a new promise of hope as first presented by Christ Jesus 2000 years ago. Perhaps this is truly the missing link which will eventually forever silence the seeming conflict between what is now called science, and faith, and once again universally bring the true meaning of the teachings of Jesus to humanity in the form of universal harmony, health, life, and happiness.