Jesus, treating the action as symbol. At the end, before the betrayal, he said in his prayer to heaven, ‘Father . . . I have glorified you on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. These sparse references to 'work' are all.
The Gospels tell a wonderful story, lovely in its setting, marvelous in its ending, but, looked at without the glamour of ages, and apart from the masterly English of our translation, we find in them a man of great insight, intelligence and wit, humility and unresentfulness, who treats everyone as his brother, who demands respect and admiration; but what more? His rejection and brutal murder were no different from what innumerable prophets have suffered throughout history, and the concluding accounts of his resurrection, read in a detached and critical way, are dubious. We are, indeed, forced to the conclusion, on the evidence of the Gospels, that there is nothing to account for the idea of supreme meaning in his work that his immediate followers had and that history has maintained. We have to go beyond the story in its simple terms for a deeper meaning.
That the original apostles gained that meaning after they had been enlightened, and, above all, that Saint Paul, the unbeliever, knew it, is certain. Paul, a Hellenistic Jewish rabbi, an ardent Pharisee, who belonged to Tarsus in Cicilia, was engaged in persecuting his fellow Jews who made out that the criminal Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, when he was suddenly convinced that these despised men were right, that Jesus had indeed come from God to free his people, and had achieved it. Paul saw in Jesus the pre-existent Son of God, who came on earth to redeem mankind by his death and resurrection, an act of God's judgment and grace. He thereafter devoted his life to the declaration of his great divine act of reconciliation. Saint Paul was not concerned with Jesus' teaching but his work. He maintains that Jesus' work was cosmic, affecting the entire world and the whole of mankind, past, present and future: the work of salvation from the foundation of the world. The first Adam he said, introduced sin, the second Adam overthrew sin. The work of Jesus was beyond parallel and beyond man's understanding, it was entirely the work of God, man had only to accept it.
From this has sprung the doctrines and dogmas, the creeds, theologies and the practices of the Christian Church in all its phases and forms, which have been possibly the greatest formative element in Western society. Despite, however, the profound theologies, the protracted discussions and disputes, and the lives of the mystics and saints, throughout the nearly two thousands years since Jesus died, there is still no completely satisfactory explanation of the work of Jesus. It remains a mystery. There are intuitions, guesses, rationalizations, everything that the most penetrating intelligences and devoted lives have been able to contribute, but the mystery remains.
It is characteristic of Christianity that the mystery remains open. There is no secret doctrine. In all other religions and cults there are mysteries revealed to initiates, not always fully to them: in Christianity, nothing of the sort. I have met people who suppose that there is a secret teaching in the Catholic Church available only to a few, which is utter nonsense. The one mystery of the Incarnation - for that is where the mystery lies - is open to all.
As I say, there seems close affinity between the mystery of Jesus and that of Meher Baba. Because Baba is with us and we know Him, it is perhaps legitimate for us to contemplate His mystery in the attempt to grasp something of its significance, which I attempt to do.
In the collection of Meher Baba's early discourses, “God to Man and Man to