ONE story that a relative of mine enjoys passing along to his children and grandchildren is how he often answered a common question of Sunday School teachers: ``What is your favorite Bible verse?'' Even as a small child he was clever enough to know that there was one verse in the Gospel of John that required little work to memorize: ``Jesus wept.'' Far beyond a youngster's cleverness, though, is the fact that the verse leaves an impression. While it's easy to picture Christ Jesus as a remarkable healer, his weeping is a different image. Luke's Gospel also tells us that he wept over Jerusalem. Apparently he saw tremendous promise in this holy city contradicted by the city's sad history of rejecting many prophets of God.
Jerusalem, in this way, might be said to represent unwillingness to yield to God's direction. And while tragedy often softens such intransigence, witnessing tragedy is not an easy experience for people who yearn to relieve human suffering. And Jesus was certainly one who had such yearning.
This yearning is vastly more than sentiment. It can be in us strong evidence of spiritual awakening to the demands of divine Love to overcome evil. And we need to realize that we can overcome evil through God's direction.
One of the first steps in doing so may be to confront the human tendency to become discouraged when we see an evil for what it is. Evil is ugly, and this can be shocking when it's first exposed. But this doesn't mean that evil becomes more formidable. It can mean that we're less deceived by evil's often subtle and pervasive claims to power and authority.
An early follower of Jesus learned this lesson well. The New Testament writer of the book of Revelation tells of his struggle against evil. In fact, he had been sent into exile because he was a follower of Jesus. As the subtle (and not so subtle) workings of evil were uncovered, the author of Revelation used vivid words to describe it. One of the metaphors he employed was that of ``a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns.''1 And in powerfully poetic language he described the dragon as poised to devour the innocent -- certainly a symbol of spirituality.
The dragon, however, is self-destroyed, instead of harming its intended victim. And therein lies a fundamental lesson of Christian Science. This Science of healing teaches that God alone is all-powerful and the creator of man in His image and likeness. Regardless of the particular claims of evil in any situation, don't we have to hold unreservedly to the spiritual fact that God is all-powerful Life and that all our human efforts must eventually be undergirded by this powerful, eternal truth? Certainly this is one of the lasting lessons of Jesus' life. His compassion, tenderness, and humanity were sustained by his understanding of the omnipotence of God. And eventually this truth is what triumphed in his life, not the barbarity of evil.
Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, found in the Bible strong reason for hope in God. She writes in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures: ``The Old Testament assigns to the angels, God's divine messages, different offices.... These angels deliver us from the depths. Truth and Love come nearer in the hour of woe, when strong faith or spiritual strength wrestles and prevails through the understanding of God.'' Using Love, Truth, and divine Principle as synonyms for God, she goes on to say: ``Against Love, the dragon warreth not long, for he is killed by the divine Principle. Truth and Love prevail against the dragon because the dragon cannot war with them.''2
We, too, following Jesus' example, have recourse to God, and His divine messages can deliver people today -- not only from evil but also from the sorrow that often threatens to overwhelm those who care deeply for others.
There is divine law that undergirds life. It is a law of healing and reformation. And we can follow Jesus' example and in prayer renew our energies and spiritually arm ourselves for whatever confrontations with evil may come in our lives. The spiritual reality of life is that God truly is omnipotent and there is no evil that can equal Him or actually coexist with Him and His creation.
1Revelation 12:3. 2Science and Health, pp. 566-567. DAILY BIBLE VERSE: The dragon fought and his angels, and prevailed not; neither was their place found any more in heaven. Revelation 12:7,8