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wisest statesman in Egypt in the days of Moses was the man who walked as seeing “him who is invisible.”
The best of a man is his willingness to sacrifice for the sake of the inner life. For the cultivation of the inner life prayer is essential. One can not be proof against the world forces as they appeared to Christ in the shape of fleeing disciples, betraying friends, bigoted priests, unrighteous rulers, the sneers and jeers of the multitude, the sight of the approaching cross, unless sustained by an inner power—the presence of the Father.
The harder the task the more important it is to pray. The more ambitious one is to wield power, the more zealously he must incline his ear to catch the words of God. Prayer is the way to peace.
The Bethany Silence is the soul's time of waiting before the descent of the Holy Spirit of power-power with God, power Strengthened by the prayer and waiting of the quiet day at Bethany, Jesus came to the Passover with a poise and power that reveal the intimacy of his fellowship with the Father.
It is the last evening that he will spend with his disciples. He knows that treason is at work among them. He realizes how severe will be the trial of their loyalty. He recognizes that his mission will seem to them to be a failure. He will devote the few hours that remain to the comfort of these, his friends, who are to carry on his work. It is no ordinary comfort, which a brave soul may give to those who are to mourn his loss, that Jesus offers to his followers. It has a great note of power. It has beautiful messages of promise. It thrills with a sense of victory.
All that occurs at that Last Supper and all the words that are spoken by the Lord reveal his sense of mastery of the hour and of the situation. He is confident that his work has been accomplished. He recognizes that his departure is at hand and regards himself as going to the Father. Clearly he speaks of reunion with his disciples and promises them his presence. And he looks forward to the future with assurance of the accomplishment of his mission for the salvation of men.
The disciples were very sure that Jesus' work was not done. They were looking for great accomplishments for which all that they had seen was but preparatory. Indeed, their unseemly wrangle on the way to the paschal supper was occasioned by the anxiety to know who should have the largest share in the blessed days that were coming. To them the simple life of service that Jesus had lived before them was to lead to the dignity of a royal dominion. But the Master assures them that the service itself is the dignity. His mission was accomplished in his ministry. And in the very words in which he promises them thrones, he bids them follow his example, who is among them as one that serves.
Jesus would tell them that they must not suppose that because his life had been inconspicuous, therefore it had been unsuccessful or was incomplete. He had lived the eternal life in their company, and it was theirs to follow him to a like accomplishment.
So also Jesus will not have the disciples regard the treason of Judas as an interference with the divine purposes. The Master is not untimely cut off. His work is done. The betrayer is no less guilty. It is his own dreadful, voluntary act, and the result to him must be terrible. But he is not permitted to mar the completeness of the Saviour's mission. “The Son of man goeth, even as it is written of him: but woe unto that man through whom the Son of man is betrayed! Good were it for that man if he had not been horn.
Indeed, so far from the betrayal hindering the accomplishment of Jesus' mission, it is the opportunity for him to bring his mission to its fulfilment. He is oppressed by the presence of Judas, because of the pain of a betrayal by his friend. But as soon as the traitor has left the room, his spirit rises, and he exclaims with a great sense of triumph, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” And then in the wonderful acted parable he reveals to the disciples the deep meaning of his death. He gives thanks, for he knows that all is well. Then he breaks for them the bread, symbol of his body given for them, and passes to them the cup, symbol of his blood poured out for
“I glorified thee on the earth, having accomplished the work which thou hast given me to do."
The Memorial Supper ever speaks to us of Jesus' work well done: that life so wonderfully lived, that death so wonderfully died. The remembrance of his complete devotion is the abiding comfort and inspiration of the church. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." In the early days after Pentecost the disciples met together and broke bread in memory of their Master who had died for them. He finished his work and the world can never forget.
But coupled with Jesus' conviction that his mission was accomplished, was the serene conviction that he was going to the Father. It is one of the dominant notes in his farewell conversation with the eleven. Men had rejected him, but he was going to God. Men would kill him, but God would receive him. Jesus is not a cynic, scorning death and bidding enemies do their worst. He is not merely a philosopher, bending to the inevitable. He is not only a hero or a martyr, dying for a cause. He is the Son of God going home. His life with God is so intimate that death can only bear him into the divine presence. Náy, indeed, his life with God is so certainly the eternal life, that death cannot affect it at all. He is ever with the Father. His departure from the earth is only a going to the Father.
There is no power in the world to hurt a man who has such a faith. The traitor may slink out in the darkness and make his way to the priests who have bought him. The Sanhedrin may violate its own solemn rules of procedure and may condemn him without evidence. The cowardly procurator may yield to the frenzied
cry for blood, and deliver him to be crucified. But none of them can harm Jesus. He is going to the Father. Even his friends will forsake him and leave him alone. But he is not alone, for the Father is with him.
In this supreme hour there is revealed the central thought in Jesus' life and teaching. And it is part of the wonder of his life and teaching that they may so simply be summed up in a word. He lived as one who belonged to God and found all the explanation of life and destiny in that blessed relationship. And his teaching was that we also should be children of the Father and make all life a journey toward the Father.
That faith of Jesus has brought a new beauty into the world. The man who grasps it is lifted above common human conditions:
“the whips and scorns of time,
He need not find his quietus from trouble in selfdestruction. He has a better way of meeting life's trials. He is going to the Father. A glorious goal atones for a rude journey. So the martyrs suffered, glorifying God. So many a saint has met severest trial, confident of a happy issue out of all affliction. And so Christians may meet the lesser dificulties that are not unto death, and the sorrows that are not overwhelming, but yet are painful and troublous.
We can bear them all, for we are going to the Father.
Jesus was going to the Father, and therefore he could comfort his disciples. He was not about to take a leap into the dark, but was moving forward into