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Chapter 19 - Joseph of Arimathea: On the Primal Aims of Jesus
YOU WOULD KNOW the primal aim of Jesus, and I would fain tell you. But none can touch with fingers the life of the blessed wine, nor see the sap that feeds the branches.
And though I have eaten of the grapes and have tasted the new vintage at the winepress, I cannot tell you all.
I can only relate what I know of Him.
Our Master and our Beloved lived but three prophet's seasons. They were the spring of His song, the summer of His ecstasy, and the autumn of His passion; and each season was a thousand years.
The spring of His song was spent in Galilee. It was there that He gathered His lovers about Him, and it was on the shores of the blue lake that He first spoke of the Father, and of our release and our freedom.
By the Lake of Galilee we lost ourselves to find our way to the Father; and oh, the little loss that turned to such gain.
It was there the angels sang in our ears and bade us leave the arid land for the garden of heart's desire.
He spoke of fields and green pastures; of the slopes of Lebanon where the white lilies are heedless of the caravans passing in the dust of the valley.
He spoke of the wild brier that smiles in the sun and yields its incense to the passing breeze.
And He would say, "The lilies and the brier live but a day, yet that day is eternity spent in freedom."
And one evening as we sat beside the stream He said, "Behold the brook and listen to its music. Forever shall it seek the sea, and though it is for ever seeking, it sings its mystery from noon to noon.
"Would that you seek the Father as the brook seeks the sea."
Then came the summer of His ecstasy, and the June of His love was upon us. He spoke of naught then but the other man -- the neighbor, the road-fellow, the stranger, and our childhood's playmates.
He spoke of the traveler journeying from the east to Egypt, of the ploughman coming home with his oxen at eventide, of the chance guest led by dusk to our door.
And He would say, "Your neighbor is your unknown self made visible. His face shall be reflected in your still waters, and if you gaze therein you shall behold your own countenance.
"Should you listen in the night, you shall hear him speak, and his words shall be the throbbing of your own heart.
"Be unto him that which you would have him be unto you.
"This is my law, and I shall say it unto you, and unto your children, and they unto their children until time is spent and generations are no more."
And on another day He said, "You shall not be yourself alone. You are in the deeds of other men, and they though unknowing are with you all your days.
"They shall not commit a crime and your hand not be with their hand.
"They shall not fall down but that you shall also fall down; and they shall not rise but that you shall rise with them.
"Their road to the sanctuary is your road, and when they seek the wasteland you too seek with them.
"You and your neighbor are two seeds sown in the field. Together you grow and together you shall sway in the wind. And neither of you shall claim the field. For a seed on its way to growth claims not even its own ecstasy.
"Today I am with you. Tomorrow I go westward; but ere I go, I say unto you that your neighbor is your unknown self made visible. Seek him in love that you may know yourself, for only in that knowledge shall you become my brothers."
Then came the autumn of His passion.
And He spoke to us of freedom, even as He had spoken in Galilee in the spring of His song; but now His words sought our deeper understanding.
He spoke of leaves that sing only when blown upon the wind; and of man as a cup filled by the ministering angel of the day to quench the thirst of another angel. Yet whether that cup is full or empty it shall stand crystalline upon the board of the Most High.
He said, "You are the cup and you are the wine. Drink yourselves to the dregs; or else remember me and you shall be quenched."
And on our way to the southward He said, "Jerusalem, which stands in pride upon the height, shall descend to the depth of Jahannum the dark valley, and in the midst of her desolation I shall stand alone.
"The temple shall fall to dust, and around the portico you shall hear the cry of widows and orphans; and men in their haste to escape shall not know the faces of their brothers, for fear shall be upon them all.
"But even there, if two of you shall meet and utter my name and look to the west, you shall see me, and these my words shall again visit your ears."
And when we reached the hill of Bethany, He said, "Let us go to Jerusalem. The city awaits us. I will enter the gate riding upon a colt, and I will speak to the multitude.
"Many are there who would chain me, and many who would put out my flame, but in my death you shall find life and you shall be free.
"They shall seek the breath that hovers betwixt heart and mind as the swallow hovers between the field and his nest. But my breath has already escaped them, and they shall not overcome me.
"The walls that my Father has built around me shall not fall down, and the acre He has made holy shall not be profaned.
"When the dawn shall come, the sun will crown my head and I shall be with you to face the day. And that day shall be long, and the world shall not see its eventide.
"The scribes and the Pharisees say the earth is thirsty for my blood. I would quench the thirst of the earth with my blood. But the drops shall rise oak trees and maple, and the east shall carry the acorns to other lands."
And then He said, "Judea would have a king, and she would march against the legions of Rome.
"I shall not be her king. The diadems of Zion were fashioned for lesser brows. And the ring of Solomon is small for this finger.
"Behold my hand. See you not that it is over-strong to hold a sceptre, and over-sinewed to wield a common sword?
"Nay, I shall not command Syrian flesh against Roman. But you with my words shall wake that city, and my spirit shall speak to her second dawn.
"My words shall be an invisible army with horses and chariots, and without ax or spear I shall conquer the priests of Jerusalem, and the Caesars.
"I shall not sit upon a throne where slaves have sat and ruled other slaves. Nor will I rebel against the sons of Italy.
"But I shall be a tempest in their sky, and a song in their soul.
"And I shall be remembered.
"They shall call me Jesus the Anointed."
These things He said outside the walls of Jerusalem before He entered the city.
And His words are graven as with chisels.
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