The Cross and Crown
ERIC W. CARR
From the December 30, 1939 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel
There are two events in history which have made a profound impression upon human thought, although mankind as a whole has not yet come to appreciate their full import—the crucifixion and the bodily resurrection of the great Master of Christianity, Christ Jesus. The three years’ ministry of Jesus had been leading up to the period when he was to make his great human sacrifice on behalf of mankind, and had been a preparation for the tremendous demonstration of restoring his human body, which the persecutors of his sublime teaching had declared to be dead, a demonstration which was soon afterwards followed by his ascension above all physical and bodily conditions, to the full consciousness of his spiritual unity with God.
Jesus had declared his intention to raise his own body from the dead after its seeming destruction. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” he said. Moreover, he had asserted the necessity for this act, that the Comforter might come to his disciples: “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.”
His disciples had been with him during his three years’ ministry, had listened to his teaching and watched his mighty healing works; but still they did not fully understand his message, and the spiritual import of all he had endeavored to convey to them. After the resurrection, and with the joy of finding their beloved Master alive, the Comforter, “the Spirit of truth,” came to them, and then they really understood his teaching and were able in a measure to demonstrate it.
About the middle of the last century, when great discoveries were being made in the realm of what is known as natural science, a certain skepticism grew up among many people regarding the healing and other works recorded in the Bible. Miracles were declared to be infringements of natural law, and were therefore considered impossible. Gradually, however, since that time, there has come about a return to a recognition of the historical accuracy of the Scriptures. Professor Drummond may be regarded as having done much along this line in his book “Natural Law in the Spiritual World.” The work of archaeologists in Biblical lands has tended to verify Scriptural history; and not long ago the well-known scientist and writer, Sir Ambrose Fleming, used these words in a public utterance: “The bodily resurrection of Christ [Jesus] is one of the most certainly attested facts in human history.”
To those who understand Christian Science, Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, has removed all doubt about the accuracy of the Bible records. She has shown, in her writings and by demonstration, that Christian Science supports the teaching and practice of the Master, Christ Jesus, and that all true Science is divine. Mrs. Eddy refers to Jesus in “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” (p. 313) as “the most scientific man that ever trod the globe.”
On page 135 of Science and Health she writes, “The miracle introduces no disorder, but unfolds the primal order, establishing the Science of God’s unchangeable law.” The Gospels make it clear that the betrayal, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus were experiences which he faced with patience and courage, well knowing that a mighty victory was at hand, which would be of tremendous importance, not only to himself and his disciples, but to all humanity. The cross would have been of small consequence to mankind but for the glorious resurrection which followed it; and so, the crucifixion and the resurrection cannot be separated; the two stand together.
Many of those who profess Christianity are still inclined to cling to the cross, to consider it in solitary isolation, with the picture of our Saviour in his dark and brief hour of trial constantly before their thought. The cross certainly has a deep meaning for all of us; and the great sacrifice of our Master is an inspiration and example to his followers in showing the necessity of abandoning a merely material sense of life and gaining spirituality. Mrs. Eddy has written (ibid., p. 54): “That he might liberally pour his dear-bought treasures into empty or sin-filled human storehouses, was the inspiration of Jesus’ intense human sacrifice.” But in considering the example of Jesus, let us remember that as with him, so with us, the cross and the crown of victory are woven together. The followers of Christ Jesus need to take up the cross, by denying matter, material sense, and material law. Thus doing, they will demonstrate the allness of God, Spirit, perform the healing works demanded of all true Christians, and gain the crown of spirituality and victory.
Among the subjects of the Lesson-Sermons found in the Christian Science Quarterly and read in all Christian Science churches on Sundays, is one entitled “Sacrament.” Upon the Sunday when this Lesson is read, Communion is observed in all branch churches. In this Lesson, reference is made to the Gospel account of our Lord’s last supper; and with this account it is usual to have the story of the joyful spiritual breakfast which our Master ate with his disciples upon the shore of Galilee after his resurrection. Thus, at Christian Science services, the sad supper is not separated from the joyful breakfast. In this connection our Leader has written (ibid., p. 34): “What a contrast between our Lord’s last supper and his last spiritual breakfast with his disciples in the bright morning hours at the joyful meeting on the shore of the Galilean Sea! His gloom had passed into glory, and his disciples’ grief into repentance,—hearts chastened and pride rebuked.”
Should we find ourselves undergoing a period of trial, struggle, or difficulty, let us remember the strong, calm patience of the Master. A trial is but a demand upon us to give up more of material sense through the understanding of our spiritual unity and sonship with God, from whom man is never separated. Hence the crown of spiritual victory can be ever with us, right where the cross of trial may seem to be. We must watch that we do not allow our thinking to become so mesmerized by a trial and the conditions which seem to be included in it, that the problem appears to stand alone, a solitary jagged peak, constantly before our gaze. The cross in one of the illustrations of Mrs. Eddy’s poem “Christ and Christmas,” entitled “The Way,” is not alone. In this picture the cross stands in shadow in the foreground; in the middle distance the cross is garlanded with blossoms; beyond is the crown. Turning thought away from material sense in the midst of a seeming trial and denying its reality before the great spiritual fact of God’s allness, will reveal the presence of the Comforter. Mrs. Eddy, through her writings, has brought the Comforter to many thousands of her followers throughout the world today. She herself took up the cross unflinchingly, and gained the crown of achievement and victory.
Let us have the assurance that the Comforter, divine Science, is ever at hand, and that there is always a way out of a difficulty. It took Jesus three days’ work in the tomb to find the solution to his problem. So, let us not be discouraged if it requires a little time to find the answer to the problem with which we may be coping. We can rest assured that the gaining of more spiritual understanding and a clearer realization of our unity with divine Truth and Love, will reveal the solution and show that we have the crown of victory here at hand.