This past Easter, major newsmagazines in the United States had cover stories that explored the status of Christianity today. It's hard not to notice that many of the issues separating scholars today, as they search for "the real Jesus," echo the questioning that occurred during his ministry two thousand years ago.
John's Gospel records how the religious scholars and authorities of Jerusalem-the scribes and Pharisees- struggled to determine who Jesus was. On one occasion Jesus healed a man who had been born blind (see chap. 9). Neither the man's family nor the community could ignore this wonderful event; they found themselves face to face with a singular manifestation of God's power.
But the religious authorities, like many scholars today, found all of this hard to believe. Was Jesus a charlatan? Had that man really been blind? It was commonly held that the man's blindness was the result of sin. How could Jesus have the authority to annul this punishment?
They questioned the man's parents. They questioned the man himself. They tried to find some other answer than the one Jesus had put forth: that he was here to do the works of God. They called the man back again and said, "Give God the praise: we know that this man is a sinner." But the man whose sight had been restored simply replied, "Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see" (verses 24, 25). It was inconceivable to this man that a wicked man or a man alienated from God could do such a wonderful thing.
Today a large company of scholars is wrestling with the gospel record of the many healings Jesus brought about, and even doubts the accounts of his resurrection and ascension. And this despite the fact that these are the very events that have animated Christians from the beginning. What current questioning does point out is that, for all their value, historical, archaeological, and philological studies do not reveal the real Jesus and the significance of his life.
A book by Mary Baker Eddy, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, makes this important point: "The spiritual sense of the Scriptures brings out the scientific sense, and is the new tongue referred to in the last chapter of Mark's Gospel" (p. 272). Anyone who truly wants to find the real Jesus will need to develop an ability to discern the spiritual sense of the Scriptural record of his life. Such spiritual insight brings healing today. The person who has experienced Christianity's healing power is far less likely to question the validity of the gospel records than the one who has not.
Science and Health says later, "There will be greater mental opposition to the spiritual, scientific meaning of the Scriptures than there has ever been since the Christian era began" (p. 534). This was written over a hundred years ago, but it recognized that sometimes academic study lacks the tools and methodology to appreciate the spiritual sense of the Bible.
For those seeking the spiritual meaning and purpose of Christ Jesus' life, no work is more helpful than Science and Health, the textbook of Christian Science. It unlocks the spiritual significance of the Scriptures and explains that the healing works of Jesus were divinely natural. More than that, it reveals God as the underlying divine Principle of the spiritual laws on which Christian healing is based. These laws are applicable to our own needs in this age.
The opening chapters of Science and Health show the deeper significance of Jesus' career. In them, a probing examination of his resurrection reveals why it is central, not only to Christian belief, but to Christian practice today. This book continues to validate the gospel accounts of Jesus' life and resurrection, through the ongoing practice of a healing and redeeming Christianity. It is a book that helps people both to find "the real Jesus" and to understand all that the Bible says of him.