As we come to the concluding Service, the hour of meditation at the close of Easter this year of our Lord one thousand, nine hundred, fifty-three, it is well that we consider together those things by reason of which we may share the victory of our Lord and King, and particularly tonight I would draw your attention to our Divine Commission—the commission which extends to us here in this hour.
First I would remind you that before our Master was called upon to suffer the indignities of the mockery of trial and crucifixion He made the statement. “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world,” This was His statement before the crucifixion, before the resurrection morn. He said, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” He did not say, “I am going to overcome the world. I am almost ready to overcome the world. I an almost ready to prove God's supremacy over the limitations present in the world.” He said, before the beginning of man's attempt to kill God, “Be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” And it is that fact which gives us real cause for hope. It is that fact which makes it possible for us to follow Him in overcoming the limitations of the world. Hunan beings have developed some very peculiar concepts about what it means to overcome the world.
In actual fact it means simply that as we let the Way, the Truth, and the Life have meaning in our lives we overcome the limitations of the world which arise out of self-centeredness and self-activity and, becoming God-centered, we let Deity be made manifest in our lives, according to that particular capacity which God has granted to us, according to the particular purpose for which we came into the world, for we remember that each one is distinctly individual. Each one has a Divine Purpose, ordained on earth to accomplish some certain thing. And unless each one fulfils that to which he is ordained, he cannot know the joy and the satisfaction of truly living. And so, you came into the world to accomplish something special in relationship to God's Plan and Purpose. And it is only as we share the victory which overcomes the limitations of the world, overcomes those things which prevent the manifestation of the things of God, can we truly follow our Lord and Master—and that overcoming must be while we live. That is the true victory.
One of the things which must be recognized and emphasized in relationship to this point is that human beings have for so long imagined that overcoming the world meant some kind of gloomy life in which one could have no joy, no satisfaction, no natural expression in life—which is not the case at all, for the true expression of life brings the real joy and happiness and satisfaction which God intends for His Children. We remember the Master’s word “Fear not little flock. It is my Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom” And He did not add, after you die. Right here on earth in this life, “Fear not little flock. It is my Father's good pleasure to give you the Kingdom.” And once we begin to realize that Truth, our whole attitude toward life begins to change.
And now, with respect to that Divine commission, the means by which we may accomplish that to which we are called, I would draw your attention to the prayer with which our Master concluded His ministry on earth, and this was before the experience in Gethsemane, the mockery of the trial, the atrocities that were brought to a climax in the crucifixion: “These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.” Now there is the Master’s statement of that which is necessary to eternal life—not the crucifixion, not dying on the cross. “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent.”
“I have glorified thee on the earth.” And now notice the next statement. “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” At the point where the Master gave this prayer He said “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.” At this point—before Gethsemane. Before the trial and the crucifixion, the Master said, “I have finished the work which Thou gavest me to do,” That which He had to endure afterward was something imposed upon Him by man. It was not required of God, and we have the Master's own statement to establish that fact. For if we say that He had not finished the work which God gave Him to do before the trial and the crucifixion, we make of Him a liar and what is He did of no consequence to us in any case. Let us remember that everything which He had to endure, everything He had to work through, after this point, man imposed upon Him, man made necessary—not God. It was not God's will. He merely faced the issue which man imposed upon Him and carried through to victory. We thank God for that victory, but it was not God's will that He should have to endure these things.
In this prayer we read: “I have glorified thee on the earth. I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.” There is a statement from the Master's lips which human beings have forgotten—the Seventh Verse of the Seventeenth Chapter of John. “Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.” Everything that expressed in the Master's life—every word, every fulfilment, was not from the man Jesus but from the Father.
“For I have given unto them the words which Thou gavest me, and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me that they may be one, as we are.” In exactly the same manner, under exactly the same laws, for exactly the same Divine purpose—“that they may be one, as we are.”
“While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name; those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.
“And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves.
“I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.
“I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil.
“They are not of the world even as I am not of the world.
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
“As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world.”
“As”—in exactly the same manner, with exactly the same opportunity, in relationship to exactly the same power and the same plan, for the same purpose. “As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.” What is it that sanctifies?
“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
“And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.
“Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.”
This includes you tonight in this hour as much as it has included anyone, anywhere, at any time—as much as it included any disciple in the Master’s time, or any man or woman since that day, or any man or woman in the world today. This includes you, if you will receive it.
“Neither pray I for these alone.” Therefore every word in this prayer that applies to any human being anywhere at any time applies to you in this hour, if you will receive it. “Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all”—without any exception—“that they all”—which includes you—“That they all may be one, as thou, father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them.”
What was the glory God gave Him? The glory of manifesting the reality of the Son of God on earth, the glory of letting the power of God have meaning on earth, the glory of doing the will of God on earth, the glory of revealing Deity on earth, the glory of establishing the reality of the Kingdom of God on earth, the glory of victorious living, the glory of truly serving man on earth.
“And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them.” And that includes you in this hour, if you will but receive it. “And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one. I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
“And hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.” In exactly the same manner, with the same degree of love, the same fulness of love, applying to you in this hour. The Father is expressing His Love to you in this moment as surely, as fully, as truly as His Love was made manifest for Jesus—not one whit less, according to the Master’s own words. “That the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.”
“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am”—not where I am going to be, not where I shall be. He had just said “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world.” Those who have followed Him have been primarily concerned about God taking them out of the world. And that was not the Master’s prayer or His purpose. “I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world.” It is not the Divine Purpose that you should be taken out of the world. But what does He say? “I will.” Here is our Lord’s will “Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am.”
Now where was He in that moment? He was on earth. Where was He in that moment? Not in some distant Heaven. He was right here on earth, and He said, “Where I am,” not where I am going to be. And what else? Where was He on earth? Not a geographical location, but the manifestation of the Son of God, the manifestation of God's Power and Authority—a manifestation of Deity. And that is the Divine Commission extended to you, the Divine Invitation, that you should be as a member of the Body on earth, where He was—on earth manifesting the reality of God, the reality of Deity, the reality of God’s Power, working with God’s Laws, fulfilling God’s Will, achieving God's Purpose, fulfilling God's Plan. And this is that to which you are called.
“Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me, for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them”—that the Body of many members, the Vine of many branches, might be a reality on earth, a means by which the works might be done on earth, an actual accomplishment—not merely a dream of the future, not merely a hope for the hereafter, but the reality of a Divine Purpose in life on earth.
This is the Master’s prayer. This concluded His Divine Ministry on earth. By this means He extended the Mantle of Sonship to all who would follow Him and receive the invitation. And it extends to you in this hour. It is extended to every man, woman and child on the face of the earth who will receive it—but we must receive it on earth while we live. This concluded His Divinely Ordained Ministry on earth, and by this means He conveyed to those who should follow Him, in any generation, in any place on the face of the earth, the same position, the same power, the same ability, the same purpose which He had on earth—not a separate one, not something different, not one thing for our Lord on earth and another thing for you, the same thing. And this is His prayer.
And it was immediately after the conclusion of this prayer that He endured the indignities imposed upon Him by man. He had already finished the work which the Father gave Him to do. God did not require it. But since man imposed it, He established the victory over the worst that man could do. This wonderful prayer contains within it the Divine Commission extended to you—the Divine Commission extended to each and every one, and open to every man, woman and child, without regard to race or color or creed. The question of what earthly church you belong to, or may have belonged to, or that some one else belongs to, is beside the point. The invitation is to every living man or woman or child. We begin to see that only as we yield to a centering in God under the Law, only as we receive forgiveness, can we begin to receive this Divine Commission.
But what does it mean to receive forgiveness? Now, God offers forgiveness to every person without respect to who or where, without respect to what anyone may have done. There is not one single person on the face but what God has offered that person, is offering that person, forgiveness. But what does it mean to receive that forgiveness? It means this—man, functioning with limited understanding of the purpose of his life, functioning without the manifestation of God’s power, functioning without Divine wisdom—the sense of the fitness of things—has done those things which, if allowed to bear their fruit, complete their cycle, will bring disaster, will spoil the pattern of life. To receive forgiveness means that you let God change your future. Your function without this pattern which God has ordained has produced certain conditions which if allowed to come to fulfilment will have certain results.
What is forgiveness? The manifestation of the power of God that changes your future, that nullifies the wrong patterns which you have initiated and brings them to naught and establishes for you the opportunity of fulfilment, the opportunity of accomplishment, the opportunity of sharing in this Divine Commission. As long as the human being refuses to receive forgiveness his future cannot be changed. No one can force a change of the future upon another. Each receives as he sows unless a higher power is allowed to work in the individual life. And that power works not because Jesus was crucified but because human beings allow themselves to become a part of the Christ Body on earth. Because they reach a point where they will let the Truth make them free. And one of the things essential to that state of freedom is a recognition that receiving forgiveness is simply allowing the power of God to so operate in your life that your future may be changed, that the things which would have happened may be nullified, and that the Divine Pattern of Fulfilment may be established on earth for you in this present time.
What did the Master say? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” What did He instruct His disciples to teach? “Go forth and preach saying. The kingdom of heaven is at hand”—it is available, within reach. You do not have to wait two thousand years, or three thousand, some other number of years. It is available—at hand. But they did not understand. They did not receive it. We do not condemn them. Presumably we should have a better opportunity than they. The centuries have passed. We should be able to look back and know something more than they knew.
In the world of religion man has been content to remain in the ox cart days. He acknowledges progress and understanding and knowledge in all other fields—the field of medicine, all kinds of fields that are classified as scientific, in industrial achievement, in all the other fields of life. But man has continued to sing, “The old time religion is good enough for me.” Our forefathers were supposed to understand everything there was to know about religion, but they did not understand the simple functions of the physical body. They did not understand how to work with the natural laws of life which we are using as commonplace things today. They did not know how to build a radio. They did not know how to build an automobile. They did not know anything about an airplane—and a thousand and one other things which we take for granted now. But they were supposed to have all knowledge and all understanding with respect to religion—the things of God. And so man spiritually, in a religious sense, has remained in the ox cart days. Modern medicine does not condemn the early pioneers in the field of medicine. Those who know the wonders of electronics do not condemn the first clumsy efforts of those who began to experiment with wireless. No. We do not condemn our forefathers because they did not know more. But we cannot excuse ourselves if we fail to understand more fully than they did.
God intended that our pattern of understanding should increase, that our knowledge of the things of God should increase, and the things which used to be a mystery should be a mystery no more—that we should learn to live. Blessed Ones, when we let our future be changed, when we begin to let that which God has established and ordained for us in the future, in the Garden which God planted Eastward in Eden, when we begin to let it come into our life, our lives individually and collectively, so that it may take form, we begin to live, we begin to have a sense of joy and peace and satisfaction—we stop fighting against God.
What did the Master say? "He that gathereth not with me, scattereth abroad." From the Master’s standpoint there was not and is not any halfway point. Either you are gathering with Him to the point of Being on earth, or you are scattering abroad. Either you are serving God or you are opposing Him. There is no halfway point, no middle ground. You are doing one or the other. And if we fight against God, can we hope to have the blessings of God? No. We cannot reject the Head of the Corner and share in the building of the Temple of Being.
And so, recognizing that there are many wonderful secrets contained in this Glorious Prayer which we do not have time to meditate upon specifically tonight, I would like to conclude our meditation on this Easter Day by repeating in the Spirit of God's Love and Truth and Life the words with which our Master concluded His Ministry on earth. [Uranda read John, Chapter 17]