Jesus Only

[Mark 9:8]---' And suddenly, when they had looked round about, they saw no man any more, save Jesus only with themselves.'

' They saw no man, save Jesus only.' That is what the disciples remember and will always remember. There is no longer any talk of building tabernacles of commemoration. They instinctively turn to come down from the mountain. There will be no publicity, for ' he charged them that they should tell no man what things they had seen, till the Son of man were risen from the dead.' The disciples' conversation, coming down from the mountain, is not about the heavenly action, or the spirit visitants, or even the Voice from out of the cloud, but about Jesus Himself. Quite plainly the final impression made upon their minds by a most wonderful experience is that of the aloneness of Jesus.

What these disciples saw in one vivid flashing moment is what the centuries have been slowly revealing. In the deepest questions of life or of death, or of the life beyond, there is one figure more dominant than all others. It is the figure of Jesus. It is so dominant that we are quite correct when we speak of Him as ' Jesus only.'

In the realm of religion, which is the most intricate of all realms, He moves with sure feet and calm confidence. Religion is the most intimate and difficult subject in the world. A man's religion is always being fashioned, always changing. He has not reached the end of it when he dies, but until the moment of his death his religion is constantly growing, it is for ever shaping itself in thought and experience.

We cannot make a religion for others, and we ought not to let others make a religion for us. Our religion is what life has taught us. If we can clarify this body of experience, which comes to us so unclear and impure, we shall have done what is best worth doing for ourselves and we have to offer to others the best that was in us to give, however small its value may be.

When religion is very vital it is very sacred. Most people can hardly bring themselves to speak of it at all. The most difficult element in a ministers life is that he must for ever be speaking on that subject concerning which most people keep silence. And yet there is one personality which comes into the midst of all this complex of thought and feeling with sure feet and irresistible power---it is ' Jesus only.'

Out of religion which is present at all seasons comes religious organization which is static and has a constant tendency to decay. There will always be organized religion, but religion is the most difficult thing in the world to organize. There never yet was an organization which did not demand from its members the sacrifice of some of their convictions or preferences for the sake of united action. Either, then, we must deliberately consent that certain portions of life must be excluded from organized religion, or we must reduce the basis of the organization to the narrowest possible limits.

But this is just what religion finds to be almost impossible. It claims the whole of life for its province, and even annexes to it the life beyond. Consequently, if the organization be successful, it tends to become a tyranny. Some men will inevitably be forced into revolt; others will consent to a practical suppression of some of their convictions for the sake of utility. Revivals of religion have been originally, in every case, revolts, and their leaders were all rebels. So indeed were all the prophets of the old dispensation; so was Christ, and so were the apostles.

We have erred over-much in the rigidity of our religious organization, with the manifest result that all over the world today there is clash and confusion. But if there is anybody who can bring a spirit of unity into these complex organizations, it is ' Jesus only.'

In the realm of economics, which is the most stressful and disturbed realm in our time, we are coming slowly to see that there is one figure and one alone which can reconcile the jangling classes. It is the figure of the Divine one who yet was Carpenter. It is the figure or the Laborer who made labor Divine. He was Divine without finding labor derogatory: He was a laborer without lessening His Divinity. There is the Ideal to which both sides must approximate. As they meet in Him peace will come.

Out of economic necessities arise our world-politics. The questions that divide nations and frequently precipitate them into fratricidal struggles are at their base economic in character. Jesus is the reconciling personality between races and nations. We cannot quite say that of God, for when men say ' God ' they read differing meanings into the majestic Name. They may worship the one and only Supreme Being, but their conceptions of His character are widely different. Nations have gone to war in the name of God. But they cannot do it in the name of Jesus. The Crusaders did, but it was His grave they fought for. In war-time we talk much of God but little of Jesus. The Sermon on the Mount is suspended. Whenever we come to a crisis of that kind we slip back into the language of the Old Testament. Jesus has so revealed God that to see Him only is to stand confused with our weapons in our hands. This in the Christian belief is because He so reveals God that He drives from our mind those crude and untoward thoughts of the Deity which have cost us so much sorrow.

So long as Jesus stands upon the summit of the Mount there is hope for the race. If a black cloud of denial and forgetfulness overshadowed Him instead of a cloud of glory, then the finger of doom would be pointing down towards the chasm. But so long as He stands there bathed in glory, the finger of hope is pointing up towards the height.

But when we think of the Mount of Transfiguration, we think not only of its summit, but also of its base. On the summit of the mountain there stands the Christ enveloped in glory, but at the base of the mountain there writhes the poor epileptic, possessed, as they said in that day, of a devil. We have erred when we have sought to make the glory of Jesus a thing apart from the tragedy of life and have spoken of His Divinity as though it were a transcendental thing which had little or naught to do with the tears that flow at the base of the hill. The summit and the base of the mountain make one scene. Who believes in the Transfiguration of Jesus must labor for the transfiguration of man.

In Christ, timothy. maranatha

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