The Universal Quest

John 12:21.---' We would see Jesus.'

'We would see Jesus.' It is the cry alike of the saint of ripe experience and of the beginner in the spiritual life who only dimly knows that Christ is the source and giver of life eternal. It is the cry of the broken man who has traveled into the far country and longs to return to God. It is the cry of the puzzled man who feels that Christ is fading from him. It is the cry of the hopeful man who is beginning to see all that Christ will be to him when he finds Him more fully. And this desire for Christ, so conscious and clear to itself, which knows what it wants and in its own fashion sets out to seek it, is not the only way in which the Quest of St. John's Greeks is to be traced still among us. 'We would see Jesus' is the unconscious cry of all lives, whatever quest they are bent upon, and traveling along whatever road of thought and endeavor and purpose and aspiration. The successful man of business standing at the summit of ambition knows that there is a void in his soul which no prize of wealth or position can fill and satisfy. The thinker exploring the secrets of truth is growing conscious that he has not discovered the key to unlock the hidden mysteries. The artist, in his struggle to reach the half-discovered beauty of the universe, finds that it flies before him as it to lead him on to a fullness of loveliness which he can never find. Behind all that they think or do or love to seek for is a deep persistent hunger for something higher.

Christianity offers itself to men conscious of its power to speak to a universal desire and to give the answer to a universal quest. The question is often asked, "What is Christianity?" and to that question there are many answers. All true Christian experience replies, "Christianity is Christ." It is a religion; but its distinctive character is the message of the Christ as Savior. It implies creed; but its basis is the revelation of a Person. It becomes an ethical system; but its controlling principle is devotion to Christ. It lives as a Church, a society of souls; but its bonds of fellowship and vital secret are Christ. Christian experience consists in a vision of that Person and the effect of that vision upon life.

To those who see Jesus so, the one and only failure that matters is the failure to respond to that vision when it is offered. The real tragedy of life is to be blind to Jesus. It is possible to stand in His Presence and yet not see Him.

It is only the Christian who sees Christ; to others He is but a literary figure, or an historical problem, or an inexplicable influence; they have not the vision of what He is. Christ was veiled to the Pharisee because of his self-righteous pride: He was veiled to the Sadducee because of his determined skepticism: He was veiled to Herod, though he had desired for a long time to see Him, for he saw Him only through the blinding mists of his arrogant lusts. And so because Christ is the Eternal antithesis to sin and self-assertion, the world which knows so much about Him still knows Him not, though its heart is unsatisfied.

There are two questions which claim an answer as we think of the quest for Christ.

Where and how can we gain the vision? Even from His Church Jesus was hidden till He died and rose again, and the full meaning of His message was obscure till it stood out large and luminous in the light of His Cross and Resurrection. Speculate about Jesus, make Him a mere theological thesis, admire Him and learn from Him only as the supreme religious philosopher, and we will not see Him. But kneel at His Cross and hear His 'It is finished,' and yield our souls to Him in the submission of faith, and to us with all His saints there will come the Epiphany of Himself, and one unveiling which makes God real, and brings redemption within the range of practical experience, a gift to possess and a life to live.

What is the price to be paid for that vision? It is twofold. First, Search. 'Seek ye my face.' Desire and longing must pass into earnest and believing quest. If we would see Christ we must seek Him. It is an old road, the road of secret prayer, the road of reading His Scriptures, the road of worship; a road plain but not easy, for it leads away from fashionable self-assertion to the low door of self-humiliation. It is wet with tears of generations of penitents, and a man can travel along it only upon his knees. But it leads to Jesus, and that is everything.

Secondly, Surrender. We must have Christ on His own terms or we will not have Him at all. 'I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.' Those are deep words of St. Paul.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha

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