The Master's Program

        In the fourth chapter of Luke’s gospel we read of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, his complete victory over the world, the flesh, and evil, then his entry upon his earthly ministry. We are told that he taught in the synagogues in Galilee and was “glorified of all” because of the spiritual power which he manifested. Then we read that he came to Nazareth, where his boyhood and youth had been spent, and on the Sabbath day entered the synagogue and stood up to read. The book of Isaiah was handed him, and these inspiring words of the prophet were chosen by him: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.” This passage as found in Luke is not the complete text as given in the sixty-first chapter of Isaiah, but it is substantially the same, and what really concerns us is to grasp so far as we can the Master’s own sense of its meaning.

         As we read the account of that scene in the synagogue at Nazareth, it is easy to see how all the spiritually-minded must have been thrilled by the new and vital meaning given to familiar words, but when Christ Jesus went on to insist upon the application of the truth contained in Isaiah’s words, those present “were filled with wrath.” He reminded them that none save a lone widow was ready to accept spiritual help from Elijah in the great famine, the woman whose son was awakened from the dream of death. He also reminded them that although there were many lepers in their own land in the days of Elisha, only Naaman the Syrian was healed by the prophet. So enraged were Jesus’ hearers at this that they sought to kill him, and they did drive him out of their city, but this only sent him to other places to demonstrate what a modern writer has called “the full content of Christianity,” which beyond all question includes the healing of sickness as well as of sin, and “the manifestation of the sons of God.”

         Now no professed Christian would deny that God could heal the sick if He chose, and that Jesus did heal all manner of sickness, and even raised the dead, but they halt before his demand that his followers shall do the same. Christian Scientists, however, have proved the truth of their Leader’s words on page 495 of Science and Health: “God will heal the sick through man, whenever man is governed by God. Truth casts out error now as surely as it did nineteen centuries ago.” No Christian would deny that sin can be overcome by divine power and that it is man’s duty and privilege to be a coworker with God in this respect, but the Master’s complete program has been virtually denied a place in present-day Christianity.

         We should not forget that when the people of Nazareth rejected Isaiah’s prophetic outline of the Messianic mission as presented by Christ Jesus, he was not stayed thereby, nor did he offer to the world an abridged program because his first proffer of salvation was refused by those who would have contended for the sacredness of the Scripture itself, even as so many do today. So far as we can judge from the gospels, the Master’s work went on unabated up to the time of his crucifixion. After the raising of Lazarus he boldly carried the healing ministry into the temple, in spite of the fact that the priests and the scribes were “sore displeased,” and that his students were under orders to continue this work is very clear from the experiences recorded in the book of Acts.

         It is indeed strange that any should desire to limit the power of Truth in any direction, or even consent to make of the Master’s words and works “a mutilated doctrinal platform” (Science and Health, p. 37), when the acceptance of the whole gospel brings such a rich reward. Jesus himself said, “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.” Many of his professed followers would doubtless shrink from this test, but it stands, and points forever to the complete program of Christianity which Christian Scientists accept and strive to measure up to, knowing that thus alone can spiritual and ideal manhood be reached.


"The Master's Program" by Annie M. Knott, CSD
Christian Science Sentinel, January 15, 1916

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