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Follow the Master

Craig L. Ghislin, C.S., Glen Ellyn (Bartlett), IL
Posted Sunday, February 21st, 2021

Follow the Master
Metaphysical Application Ideas for the Christian Science Quarterly Bible Lesson on:

“Christ Jesus”
for February 22-28, 2021

by Craig L. Ghislin, C.S. Godfrey, Illinois
craig.ghislincs@icloud.com / (630) 830-8683 / (630) 234-3987 cell/text

To hear the audio version click: "Christ Jesus" Met by Craig Ghislin, CS - CedarS Camps

Are you looking for something you can rely on? It’s an old adage that the only constant is change. This week’s Golden Text from Hebrews 13:8 says otherwise—"Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.”

Support for this view comes from an unlikely source. While in exile, Napoleon asked one of his generals, “Can you tell me who Jesus Christ was?” Hearing no response Napoleon said, “I will tell you.” Then he recounted many, including himself, who had founded great empires and inspired many to die for their cause. He noted that loyalty to him and to other military leaders was largely dependent upon their personal presence and force. When Napoleon spoke to men, he lit the flame of self-devotion in their hearts. But “Jesus alone founded His Empire upon Love” He continues:

Christ alone has succeeded into raising the mind of man towards the Unseen, so that it becomes insensible to the barriers of time and space… All who sincerely believe in Him, experience that remarkable supernatural love towards Him. This phenomenon is unaccountable: it is altogether beyond the scope of man’s creative powers. Time, the great destroyer, is powerless to extinguish this sacred flame; time can neither exhaust its strength nor put a limit to its range. (Liddon, Henry Parry, The Divinity of Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Page 147-148, Scribner, Welford and Armstrong, New York, New York, 1869.)

Jesus not only reached the world through love, but he knew exactly who he was clearer than any man before or since. It’s natural to suppose this would give him a fairly good handle on his mission. But even he took measures to protect that mission and keep himself focused. If Jesus needed to do that, how can we expect to emulate him without implementing his methods?

The Responsive Reading includes several best practices employed by the Master. Some of these clues may seem trivial to us, but if we look below the surface, we can glean some important tips. The first verse of chapter 8 in the book of John says Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. Why? To find a quiet space to pray. It helped prepare him for the coming day.

In the early morning he was ready to enter the temple. The Biblical Illustrator, a 19th Century 56-volume commentary compiled by Joseph S. Exell, highlights several qualities Jesus demonstrated in this simple act. It speaks of his courage to enter a place where, the day before his life was threatened, and they tried to arrest him. This wasn’t brute courage, but a deep conviction of duty. A religious teacher has to be ready to face prejudices and resistance from the masses. Jesus was also was deeply earnest. He took time for himself, but when it was time to work, he worked. There was nothing lazy about him. He was also refreshingly natural in his presentation. He didn’t have any affectation. He spoke plainly, and honestly from his heart and his own experience.

According to several commentators, it’s also significant that Jesus referred to himself as “the light of the world” at that particular time. It was the feast of the tabernacles, commemorating the 40 years in the wilderness during which God lit the way in a pillar of fire. Throughout the feast was a great lampstand burning brightly that was extinguished when the feast was over. But Jesus was a light that would never be extinguished. Jesus clearly implies that he is now that light, leading all men to safety and revealing the presence of God always with them.

The Pharisees discounted his message saying he was bearing witness of himself. Jesus replied that his Father bore witness of him. It’s interesting that commentators think Jesus showed restraint in telling the Pharisees that he had many things to say and judge of them. Some think that rather than exposing all their evils, he chose instead to speak the truth of God’s love and grace.

Take some time to “read between the chalk marks” of citations chalk-marked for this Bible Lesson and examine this entire Lesson more closely for keys to how Jesus led his life, and then see if any of those practices might be helpful to you. After all, Jesus said to be his disciples, we must continue in his word and follow his example.

Section 1: A Comforting Approach

This Lesson is filled with examples of what it means to practice a holy life. In Isaiah 40:1 (citation B1) God commands us to be agents of comfort, not distress.

Would you say your interactions with people bring comfort, or distress? In order to bring comfort to others, we have to be at peace ourselves. We’ve seen that Jesus took time to prepare himself for what he was might have to face throughout his day. What are you doing to bring comfort to the world and those you interact with? Do you uphold those in need, encourage them, and bring good cheer? Comfort has been called “A divine art.” How are you faring as a comfort artist?

Isaiah 42:1-4 (cit. B2) speaks of God’s servant. Who is God’s servant? Does it refer to Jesus? Or to a king, or to one of the prophets? Have you ever considered yourself as a servant of God? Do you think being a servant of God might be too much of a responsibility? Or, that you don’t know enough? Or, aren’t holy enough? Or, don’t have the time, or talent for that kind of thing? Well, according to Isaiah, God doesn’t just choose you and leave you to fend on your own. God actually provides full support. God upholds you and protects you. He appoints you for His purpose, so you must have the wisdom to know you can do it. God doesn’t make mistakes. God bestows, and endows you with the Spirit, and gives you the wisdom to judge rightly. All this equips you to faithfully bring His divine message to the world.

Notice that the messenger doesn’t make a fuss or draw attention to himself. Only contentious and vain persons cause a clamor in the street—wanting to be heard and attract a crowd. But the servant of God relies on the power of the message, rather than on the volume of his own voice.

Another aspect of the servant is that he is charged with renewing even the smallest, weakest, most feeble and broken faith. The illustration of the smoking flax is that of the tiniest spark before a flame goes out. I had an illustration of this a while back when I decided to power-vac the ashes in my fireplace from a fire that we had the night before. There was a large pile of ashes and they were emitting no smoke or heat. So, I started vacuuming. But as I got deeper into the pile, all of a sudden, a fire ignited because the rush of air over the ashes deep inside brought those tiniest embers back to life. To me this illustrates that even if on the surface it looks like there’s no faith at all, deep down faith can be uncovered and reignited. The true servant is never discouraged because he or she knows that nothing is impossible to God. Failure isn’t an option.

On the surface, Matthew 4:17 and 23 (cit. B3) seem like no big deal to us, and almost like introductory fillers. But according to the Biblical Illustrator, preaching was actually a new art that didn’t exist in patriarchal times in either the Jewish or Gentile traditions.

Both Jesus’ message and his methods brought something new to the religious scene. He spoke openly and widely. But words weren’t enough—he backed up his words with healing power, making his message much more than a pleasant philosophy. The general population wasn’t quite sure who Jesus was, but the miracles he did were most compelling to them. Despite the variety of opinions about Jesus, one thing was sure. As I John 5:1 (cit. B5) points out, the true believer is “born of God.”

Mary Baker Eddy says, “The divinity of Christ was made manifest in the humanity of Jesus” (SH 25:31 / citation S1). It’s my understanding that here the word “humanity” doesn’t refer to a temporary physical condition as much as to a degree of thought. Clearly Jesus was no brute. He expressed the highest man, and the best example of humanity. Jesus was also the anointed—so much so, that the Christ, the Holy Ghost, influenced all he said and did (SH 313:1-8 / cit. S2; SH 332:19 / cit. S3). To what degree are you allowing your actions influenced by the Christ?

Section 2: “But whom say ye that I am?”

This section begins with the First Commandment (Ex. 20:3 / B6). Adam Clarke (c.1760 - 1832) clarifies its intent:

“This commandment prohibits every species of mental idolatry, and all inordinate attachment to earthly and sensible things. As God is the fountain of happiness, and no intelligent creature can be happy but through him, whoever seeks happiness in the creature is necessarily an idolater; as he puts the creature in the place of the Creator…”

Complete adherence to this first commandment was perhaps more fully realized in Jesus than in anyone who ever trod the planet. While many accept that there is only one God, even the most holy minded individuals occasionally get tempted by, and serve other gods in one form or another. Jesus, on the other hand, didn’t just serve the idea of God, he actually embodied the life that knew no other God, earning him the title of the Son of God through every moment of his life.

As Adam Clarke points out, it’s human nature to worship the creature more than the Creator. In Matthew 16:13-18 (cit. B9) Jesus questions his disciples as to how the world was receiving his message. I suppose Jesus already had a pretty clear idea of what people were thinking. It seems that the question was more of a temperature reading on how his disciples themselves were internalizing and embodying his message.

It’s not unusual that Jesus’ popularity grew as his healing power became more widely known. But he wasn’t looking for popularity. He truly loved mankind; and serving those in need was part of his Christly mission. Despite Jesus’ pure intentions, the crowds that followed him weren’t all looking to grow spiritually themselves. They wanted something from him more than they wanted to follow him. Jesus could have called them out on this or turned them away, but even when he was trying to avoid the relentless crowds, he attended compassionately to their needs. This is further evidence of his unwavering adherence to his mission.

As mentioned above, it’s unlikely that Jesus didn’t know what the multitudes thought of him. It’s possible that when Jesus questions his disciples about the people, and then their own estimation of who he was, he was using this as a teaching moment—giving the disciples time to reflect upon their own motives for following him. What are your motives for following Christ, and to what degree do you follow him? Do you do it because you’re supposed to? Or, do you have a genuine desire? Some people love the idea of God and Jesus, but they aren’t really interested in living the life required to follow him. Do you really want to follow him by emulating and embracing his example as your own?

Mary Baker Eddy tells us, “Jesus established his church and maintained his mission on a spiritual foundation of Christ-healing” (SH 136:1-2 / cit. S6). Notice that there is a difference between following creeds and rituals and living a Christly life. One commentator points out that looking at a painting of a sky is a limited representation that differs greatly from viewing the actual sky. You look at a painting, but you can only experience the sky. Just so, creeds represent what Jesus taught, but they aren’t the actual teaching. Jesus didn’t teach rules. He taught how to live. Jesus built the foundation of his church on the supremacy of Spirit, not on creeds. (138:14-15 / cit. S8).

In line with the First Commandment, Christian Scientists do not deify Jesus. Jesus is not God, but the Son of God (361:6-13 / cit. S10). This is an example of looking at what Jesus actually taught, rather than superimposing a man-made doctrine on his teaching.

Section 3: Jesus Taught in a New Way

Jesus’ followers weren’t all from the same demographic. There were all sorts of people from a variety of socio-economic, national, and religious backgrounds. Some were serious, and others, not so much, but in some way, they were all responding to the call of the Christ. Jesus didn’t discriminate. He went to all the cities and villages and healed every sickness and every disease (Matt. 9:35 / cit. B11). While most Pharisees would be considered detractors of Jesus, one man, Nicodemus, known to be very wealthy and a Pharisee himself, went to see Jesus under cover of darkness (John 3:1,2 / cit. B12). There’s a whole lot more to the story, but in this Lesson, the point is, that even this Pharisee acknowledges that Jesus must have come from God because nobody could do the miracles he did unless God was with him.

It’s interesting to note, that Jesus wasn’t really interested in going to the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:2 / cit. B13). But his family was urging him to go because the feast required that all Jewish men attend this particular feast. And they thought it was a great opportunity for Jesus to reach a large audience. However, Jesus wasn’t eager to deal with that, so he sent the family ahead. This is an important lesson for us. We should never feel pressured to do something just because others think it’s a good idea. Jesus ended up going anyway, but he went when he felt it was right.

Jesus entered the feast unnoticed and headed straight for the temple to teach (John 7:14-18 / cit. B13). The Jews were astonished because he had no formal training or education. Traditionally, rabbis based their teaching on all the previous works of scholars who came before them. But Jesus’ teaching was original. That alone would have made him suspect. But Jesus went even further. When he was told that in their eyes he had no prior standing, Jesus claimed he wasn’t teaching from men’s doctrine—God was his witness. What’s more, he basically told them only those who did the will of God would recognize the validity of his teaching. This indirectly implied that if the Pharisees didn’t understand him, they weren’t of God.

The author of Science and Health highlights Jesus’ patient persistence in his teaching (SH 136:32-1 / cit. S12). And as we mentioned earlier, she points out that Jesus didn’t teach a creed (SH 135:26 / cit. S13). He was declaring and proving spiritually scientific facts. She found proof of the veracity in Jesus’ teachings in the healing that results from embracing that teaching. Jesus taught his followers—including us—to heal the sick as well (SH 271:7 / cit. S14). But how?

We find part of the explanation in this well-known passage: “Jesus beheld in Science the perfect man, who appeared to him where sinning mortal man appears to mortals. In this perfect man the Saviour saw God's own likeness, and this correct view of man healed the sick” (SH 476:32-4 / cit. S16). Note that Jesus not only saw the perfect man, he was seeing as the perfect man. Also, note that Jesus wasn’t seeing sinful, sickly mortals as perfect, and then they miraculously found themselves cured. He wasn’t changing sick, sinful mortals into healthy, pure ones. Jesus, seeing as the perfect man, was seeing as God sees. From God’s point of view Jesus never saw a mortal. He only saw God’s perfect man. Therefore, healing took place. Following his guidance and example, we will heal too.

Section 4: Jesus Lights the Way

John 12:44 (cit. B14) tells us Jesus cried and said, “He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.”

Biblical Scholar John Gill (1697-1771) elaborates:

“He cried with a loud voice, that he might be heard, and his audience left inexcusable; it denotes the concern of his mind, the vehemence of his spirit, and that openness and freedom in which he discharged his ministry, by showing the nature, excellency, and usefulness of believing in him, and the dangerous consequences of unbelief…”

During the Feast of the Tabernacles Jesus referred to his being the light. Here again Jesus is fervently declaring his mission to bring light to the darkness of world belief. Jesus regularly reminded his disciples of his mission, yet Thomas behaves as if he didn’t know what Jesus was saying (John 14:4-6 / cit. B15). Do we ever find ourselves doing that? Especially, when considering spiritual matters, how often do we find ourselves asking a question that had been answered several ways already?

Gill continues this explanation of this state of mental darkness: “God's elect themselves, whilst in a state of unregeneracy and unbelief, are in darkness; when Christ shines in upon them, and infuses the light of faith into them, they are no longer in darkness; the darkness is past, at least in a great measure, and the true light shines…”

In the Bible darkness is both figurative and literal, emotional and physical. Bartimaeus may have been physically blind, but he also represents those whose spiritual vision is obscured (Mark 10:46:52 / cit. B16). The road out of Jericho as described was a busy thoroughfare. In that sense, Bartimaeus planted himself where he couldn’t be missed. It’s interesting that in one passage Jesus is crying out for people to pay attention to what he’s saying, and here, Bartimaeus is, in turn, crying out to Jesus for help.

There may have been many reasons for the crowd to hush Bartimaeus. Some might have thought he was simply annoying. Others that he didn’t deserve to be heard. Or, possibly, there were some in the crowd who didn’t like Jesus being called the Son of David. Or, they didn’t want to recognize Jesus’ healing ability.

Imagine that you are in need of prayer right now. Doesn’t the world try to keep you quiet too? By saying, “Who are you to be asking this of God? You are a nobody, just a worthless beggar.” Or, “You can pray all you want, but don’t you dare start to give the impression that prayer can heal you. Only medicine has the right to do that!” In what other ways does the voice of the world in your head try to stifle your efforts at prayer for healing?

Bartimaeus doesn’t give up. He cries out even more. And Jesus hears and commands him to come to him. Bartimaeus doesn’t skip a beat. He gets right up and casts off his shabby garment that represents his old way of thinking and is healed. What’s more, he follows Jesus in the way.

That’s a key point in this healing. He doesn’t give up, and he immediately accepts the call to leave his old way of thinking. We have to be willing to do that too.

Jesus is indeed, “the Way-shower, Truth and Life” (SH 288:29 / cit. S18). Our textbook describes Jesus as “the individual idea of Truth” and how he demonstrated that throughout his entire career (SH 30:19 / cit. S19). Being the voice of good, Jesus embodied, and imparted that “divine message from God to men.” The power of this message dispels the “illusions of the senses” (SH 332:9-17 / S20). He explained and demonstrated what it takes to escape the evils of the belief of life in matter (SH 315:32 / cit. S21).

In one concise sentence Science and Health gives us a very simple path to achieve this for ourselves. “The real man being linked by Science to his Maker, mortals need only turn from sin and lose sight of mortal selfhood to find Christ, the real man and his relation to God, and to recognize the divine sonship” (SH 315:32 / cit. S21). Turning from sin and losing sight of material selfhood are simple to say, but quite a challenge to do. Remember, turning from sin isn’t a one-time thing. It’s not like, “Do this, and bingo! Mission accomplished!” No, this is an ongoing way of life. It requires as much consistent attention and intention as Jesus had in his mission as well as the determination of Bartimaeus.

The author of Science and Health didn’t settle for only a piece of the pie. She wanted all of it. Traditional religions emphasize the power of Christ to redeem us from sin, and it certainly does that as we give up our belief in it. But, Jesus also overcame sickness and death, and that can be our goal as well (SH 142:4 / cit. S22).

Section 5: Jesus Is the Undisputed Master

Matthew 23:10 (cit. B17) tells us one is [our] Master, even Christ.

Albert Barnes (1798-1870) explains, the literal meaning of “master” is a leader or a guide—one who goes before others, and therefore, has the right to direct and control their instruction. We all have masters of one sort or another, but Jesus is the undisputed Master of Life and spirituality. He “went before us” in every respect, and we would do well to honor his instruction as we would any other master in his or her respective fields of expertise.

We might imagine that if we had the great privilege of being a disciple of the Master, we would understand so much more than we do now. We also might presume that those who were his disciples had a very sizable head-start in healing due to their access to Jesus’ personal instruction. In fact, we might feel fortunate indeed if we were to be taught by one of Jesus’ students. But even the disciples, while Jesus was still with them, ran into difficulties. It wasn’t unnatural for someone in need to expect that these disciples had healing power too. But, there was a man with a son who had violent seizures who came to the disciples for help, and the disciples’ efforts were ineffectual. When the man pleaded his case to Jesus, their Master chided the disciples for being faithless and perverse. Then, Jesus rebuked the evil spirit, and the child was healed (Luke 9: 38-43 / cit. B18).

Science and Health refers to Jesus as the “Master” many times, and emphasizes the fact that Jesus fully expected his students to heal. Jesus had a remarkable healing record because, as we’ve said before, he saw man as God sees him—perfect, spiritual, healthy—the reflection of Soul, God. Jesus didn’t attempt to correct an imperfect mortal by turning him into a perfect mortal. Jesus didn’t see a mortal of any kind. He saw man as a perfect spiritual idea—God’s idea.

We have access to this spiritual view as well. Mary Baker Eddy, a remarkable healer in her own right, tells us that “God will heal the sick through man, whenever man is governed by God” (SH 495:1-2 / cit. S26) Notice that man isn’t healing the sick through God. God is healing the sick through man. It starts with God. That’s why Jesus said his doctrine wasn’t his own. God is first. We are God’s reflection. We have to stick to this truth of being in the face of all the material sense evidence that would oppose it (SH 418:5 / cit. S27). It’s up to us to have the purest understanding of this divine healing Principle that that we can. But, we have to be honest in our intentions, without any ulterior motives. As we genuinely and authentically live a life in accordance with those high ideals, we too, will heal the sick. In fact, we’re told it’s a duty and privilege of each of us no, matter how young or old, to follow our Master’s example to whatever degree we are able (SH 37:22-25 / cit. S28). How are we doing in that regard? We hear regularly of the need for better healing. Well, we may love the thought of being healed, but are we loving and living what it takes to get to that point? Are we following the Master?

Section 6: What Are We Going to Do About It?

Many tried to silence Bartimaeus, the disciples, and even Jesus himself. Though Jesus wasn’t seeking public recognition, he did preach and expected us to do so as well. How do we feel about sharing the good news? In John 1:41 we have Andrew sharing the news with his brother (John 1:41 / cit. B19). Adam Clarke captures the disciple’s exuberance:

“These disciples, having tasted the good word of Christ, were not willing to eat their bread alone, but went and invited others to partake with them. Thus, the knowledge of Christ became diffused - one invited another to come and see: Jesus received all, and the number of disciples was increased, and the attentive hearers were innumerable.”

James Burton Coffman (1905-2006) mentions that Andrews’ greatest contribution was his ability to enlist others. “He enlisted his own brother, Peter; he discovered the lad with the barley loaves and fish; he, along with Philip, brought the Greeks to Jesus; and, upon at least one occasion, he was associated with the "inner three" in a private meeting with Jesus” (Mark 13:3). Everyone has their strengths. How can you best serve the Cause? How confident do we feel about sharing the good news?

Though public enthusiasm about Jesus and his mission varied, the disciples were fairly consistent. Jesus reinforced their faith regularly, but once they witnessed the resurrection they were thoroughly convinced and preached confidently wherever they went (I John 4:14 / B20). Multitudes came to be healed (Matt. 15:30 / B21). There wasn’t anything beyond Jesus’ ability to heal including raising the dead. Given that the gospels only record excerpts of a brief portion of Jesus’ three-year ministry, there must have been uncountable healings. John closed his gospel saying the world couldn’t contain enough books to record all that Jesus did (John 20:30,31 / B22).

Mary Baker Eddy rightly points out that Jesus was, “the highest human concept of the perfect man” (SH 482:19-23 / cit. S29). She adds that he was inseparable from the Christ, and this gave him his unparalleled power over all material conditions. Then she gives it to us straight. If we wish to follow Jesus, “it must be in the way of God’s appointing.” She tells us, “We must forsake the foundation of material systems however time-honored, if we would gain the Christ as our only Saviour” (SH 326: 3-5, 12-14 / cit. S30)

Jesus showed us the way (SH 227:23-24 / cit. S31). How far are we willing to go to embrace that directive? Are you determined not to know anything but “Jesus Christ and him glorified”? (SH 200:27 / cit. S32) Are you ready and willing to follow the Master?


CLICK below for more APPLICATION IDEAS for this Lesson from CedarS-team:


Enjoy OPPORTUNITIES for SPIRITUAL ENRICHMENT with fresh insights WEEKLY!

CedarS Sunday Hymn Sings are being enriched every Sunday through February by representatives of Longyear Museum giving a feature presentation each week on a different one of the seven hymns written by Mary Baker Eddy. We will focus on one hymn per week, in order of their composition, through February 28. Each Sunday, right before the final hymn of the Hymn Sing, a representative from Longyear Museum will share about five to seven minutes of historical insights on what was happening in Mary Baker Eddy's life and the Christian Science movement at the time she wrote that hymn/prayer as a poem.

We look forward to deepening our appreciation and understanding of these hymns, not only in how they reflected Mary Baker Eddy's experience, but also in how they continue to bring healing to our world today. Invite family, church and other friends and even neighbors to join us by Zoom every week at 7pm Central Time for CedarS Sunday Hymn Sings. (A precious prelude precedes each sing at 6:45pm CT.) We encourage singing along in Zoom’s gallery view to share the joy of seeing dear ones in virtual family-church reunions that bless all generations.

To protect privacy and copyrights, these “brief, but spectacular” sessions are NOT recorded. So, calibrate your time-zone clocks, mark your calendars, and remind friends, so that no one misses any of these inspiring, weekly reminders of our precious, spiritual oneness with each other and with our ever-loving, Father-Mother God who owns and embraces us all!

Lovingly singing prayers and praise to God for 30 minutes each Sunday is such a warm, “Welcome Home” tradition to bless the start of each week with joyous, peaceful GRACE. (Our 2021 theme.) We have loved singing-in this grace with longtime as well as first-time friends—not only from ALL 50 of the United States, but also from 21 other countries! So far, our “Hymn Sing family” has clicked or dialed-in from Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, England, Germany, Ghana, Ireland, Italy, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, Paraguay, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Scotland, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, as well as from each of the United States! In the universal language of divine Love, thestill, small voice”’ of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe's remotest bound.” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, Mary Baker Eddy, p. 559:8–10)


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