Book One, Lesson Ten

Book One, Lesson Ten

The Cross and the Crown

"Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer:
Behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison,
that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days:
Be thou faithful unto death,
and I will give thee a crown of life."
Revelation 2:10
Our Father, our God, as we approach that that may give us a better insight of what He bore in the cross, what His glory may be in the crown, may Thy blessings-as promised through Him- be with us as we study together in His name. 262-34

[Based on Edgar Cayce readings 262-34 through 262-38]
"And ye shall know the truth,
and the truth shall make you free."
If we come to understand these lessons and that to which they are leading, and if we hope to lead others in the way, we will find it necessary to analyze ourselves as to that which is, which has been, and which may be the impelling influence in our lives. We must discard everything that bespeaks selfishness or the magnifying of those desires that are gratifying only to the carnal influences in our lives.

In previous lessons, truths which could be applied in anyone's daily life have been presented. In studying this lesson, "The Cross and the Crown," we have the opportunity to take a definite stand, if we accept the following decision as our own: For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified."

Do we feel that the cross represents something very definite in the life of each of us in our activities through the earth? The Christ Spirit has led in the presentation of truth in every age, in every clime, and came at last to the cross. He triumphed over death, hell, and the grave.

We choose this way not in an attitude of narrow-mindedness, but with a glimpse of the freedom which it brings-embodying, as it does, the light and truth of the eternal and universal Spirit of the divine Creator.

Let us pause as we take up the study of this lesson and each of us asks ourselves this question: "Why have I chosen the way of the cross?" To troubled minds and tired hearts the way seems long and hard. Bypaths and shortcuts beckon invitingly, but the eternal self cannot be hushed for long with the things that satisfy not, for it urges ever onward toward the Everlasting. In passing through various experiences in the earth plane we come at last to recognize and accept His way, the way of service, the way of sacrifice, and the way of selflessness. We come to realize that there is no other way to attain our ultimate goal except the one trod by Him who made the supreme sacrifice that we might find our way back to the Father. We come to realize that, in fact, there is no other name given among us whereby we can be saved from self except through Him. The way of the cross which He chose will lead us out of our dissolution and into the light of understanding of our true purpose in the world; then the cross becomes a symbol of that which must be borne and overcome in every life. It is natural that as we study, the purpose of our trials becomes more apparent. We begin to realize that we must overcome if we would go on; those things in our hearts that hinder our progress must be torn out and cast aside. This is not easy to do without His help. He, having gone all the way, understands all our trials and temptations and, in love, willingly gives strength to us.

"I am the way, the truth, and the life." In Him is all, and when accepted, the way is made so plain that we need not stumble. He is, indeed, the Light that lighteth every individual. He came into the world understanding the laws of all things visible and invisible, and demonstrated His power over all forces, even death. He showed that the way is the way of love. As we emulate His example by taking up our cross daily, our desires are more and more to help others. We take upon ourselves joyfully the cares, the troubles, and the crosses of those whom we contact in our little world. It is, we know, because of this divine love, which is thus manifested in our lives, that we can rejoice in that we are counted worthy to choose the way of the cross and suffer for His name's sake.

With our Ideal, the Christ, as the pattern, we have the satisfaction that our approach to the Father is assured. We know that His Spirit is already bearing witness with our spirit, that we are heirs and joint heirs with Him. There is a consciousness of His force, His power, and His activity in every element of action.

So, in bearing our crosses we overcome those conditions that would hinder us in meeting the issues of life. When this is realized, the reason for choosing the way of the cross becomes evident. Not to choose is to acknowledge a misunderstanding of the purposes of life and the way toward the realization of life eternal. Who has learned obedience otherwise than through suffering?

Why Is It Necessary to Bear a Cross?
Because One Was Borne by Another?
Our crosses are of our own making now, as well as in the beginning. The world was lost in the delusion of creative thought, seeking to reverse the process of God's law and find gratification in the lower forms of vibration. Thus we are confronted daily by crosses arising from our participation in the delusion of our senses. As we meet, again and again, the seeds we have sown, we come to realize that it is only through overcoming them that we can ever hope to reach again the estate from which we have fallen. Rebirth is the opportunity given to the children of men by which this may be accomplished. Each life stands out, crowned with an opportunity to develop through overcoming, and it is only through selfishness or the gratification of the carnal nature that we lose. All have sinned and come short of the glory of God. The law must be met, either through the keeping of the law ourselves as under a taskmaster, or in the way provided through Him, who took upon Himself the burden of the world.

He overcame the world through experiences. In each experience He bore a cross, reaching the final cross with all power and all knowledge. He accepted the cross, hence doing away with that so-called karma that must be met by all. The immutable law of cause and effect is evidenced today in the material, the mental, and the spiritual world; but in overcoming the world, the law, He became the law. The law, then, becomes as the schoolmaster, or the school of training. We who have named the Name are no longer under the law as law, but under mercy as in Him-for in Him, and with the desires, there may be made the coordination of all things. In bearing the cross, the flesh is crucified that His Spirit may be made manifest in the world. Each obstacle overcome adds strength for overcoming the next. We learn to overcome all that hinders us from becoming one with Him. This is made possible in service.

It is a glorious thing to know that we are helping Him through our service to others, to make known His purpose to bring humanity back to the Father. We never lose so long as we give. God gave His only begotten Son and received back a glorified Son who had shown a world the way back to the Father. It was the Son, in whom the Father was well pleased, who gave His all, even His life for His brethren. It is necessary that we bear the cross for our own development; but it is most glorious to have the opportunity to bear the cross for the sake of Him who made the way of escape possible for us.

Why Was It Necessary That He,
the Maker of Heaven and Earth,
Should Bear a Cross?
The God Force became ensnared in matter and, in the first Adam, fell. It was necessary, therefore, that the God Force, the Creator, individualize Himself as an example and by overcoming the world become the Law, in order that we might know the way out. So, in the last Adam all are made alive.

He, the Maker of heaven and earth, came to earth to bear the cross that He might add His experiences and activities to ours. His purpose was and is to lead the children of men back to the realization that they are, indeed, children of God and are at one with the Father.

In His bearing the cross, "It is finished," so far as the overcoming of the flesh and worldly things is concerned. He paved the way for His followers of every age. It was necessary that He, the Son of God, the Co-worker with the Creator, come to earth to demonstrate that the flesh could be overcome-thus giving glory to the Father who had made us for His glory. He bore the cross of materiality that He might change it to the glorified cross of spirituality. He left burning in the hearts of His followers the declaration, "And I, if I be lifted up... will draw all men unto me," and again, "He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father."

He went all the way. He was tempted in all ways, like unto us. He was numbered with the transgressors. "He was wounded for our transgressions... and with His stripes we are healed," and in all He was more than a conqueror. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you." What was the object of the cross? For what was the supreme sacrifice? That we through His strength might come to the knowledge and understanding of the way, might be able to overcome all things, and become rulers and priests and priestesses unto God. Again, it was His way to show to humanity what divine love could do, and how it was possible to live a perfect, blameless life with all the disintegrating influences that surround us day by day. In every period of development through the ages, He has walked and talked with people. Those who understand know that whenever there was a need for our awakening, the Son of Man entered the earth plane. The cross became the emblem of Him who offered Himself of Himself. For that cause, for that purpose came He into the world that He Himself, in overcoming the world, might gain the crown. Why Did He Come into the World as a Man That He Might Bear a Cross? It was through His thought and will that we took physical form. Only through the physical could the spiritual essence be aroused, awakened from its slumber, and set upon the path of spiritual progress. The question is answered: First, because of His own need to conquer the world in material manifestation, and second, because of the need of humanity for a guide, a teacher, and a saviour. The first is expressed in the following: Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered"; and the second is, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."

He chose to take upon Himself the responsibility of overcoming the physical or making Himself the law through the fulfillment of all requirements. By adding His experiences and activities to ours He links us with God, bringing us in a closer attunement with God and causing us to become conscious of the Oneness of all. He came to show and teach us fellowship with God through our service to others.

As a human, He knew the physical trials-doubts and fears, weaknesses and turmoils-of spiritual beings encased in material shells. He showed His ability as a human to demonstrate the possibility of humankind, as human, to bring spiritual harmony into physical vibration. He ever stressed the oneness of all force, demonstrating the direct relationship between humanity and the Creator. He came in the flesh to show that we in the flesh could become as He, God in Spirit; and taught that we may be one, even as He and the Father are one. Then this one, the Adam that first entered the world, must become the Saviour of the world. It was committed into His care. "Be thou fruitful, and multiply, and subdue the earth."

Hence, the first Adam, the last Adam, was given power over the earth, and, as in each soul, the first to be conquered was self. Then all things, conditions, and elements are subject unto Him. So He became that One who was able to take the world, the earth, back to the source from whence it came. All power is given into His keeping in the earth which He has overcome. Self, death, and hell became subservient unto Him through the conquering of self. "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." The Word came and dwelt among us, the offspring of self in a material world. The Word overcame the world; hence the world became then as the servant of that One who overcame it.

Why Do We, as Individuals, Necessarily Bear Much
That He Bore, and Yet Say
That When Taking His Yoke upon Us the Cross Becomes Easy?
We must bear what He bore because we must travel the same way to perfection that He traveled. Along that way are experiences that all must have in order to gain the power and the knowledge of overcoming. As He took upon Himself the burden of the world, so we, in our own little world, must take upon ourselves the burdens of those about us. The yoke is easier because the burden is lighter. He bore it all. We bear only our part. In so doing we may become conscious of our real purpose to glorify the Creator and come to know that, after all, our crosses are only misunderstandings and misapplications of His laws. To practice, not preach, demands strength, power, and faith in the Ideal. Experience alone in overcoming can give a complete understanding of what it means for another to suffer, and yet not yield-to bear and forbear, and through it all love and forgive.

His yoke is easy because His presence abides with us, protecting us and sharing the burdens that otherwise would be too heavy for us to bear. Then, too, as we come to understand the meaning of our crosses and His abiding presence, our sufferings become lessons of wisdom, our turmoils more peaceful, and we rejoice as we find ourselves growing more and more into the likeness of Him who, by the way of the cross, became the Lord of lords and the King of kings.

His presence within is ever a bulwark of reserve power that enables us to resolve to acquit ourselves as humans, to fight the battle, to win the race, and to wear the crown. (See Sam. 4:9.) Our Advocate with the Father keeps open the channel through which spiritual energy flows to us, so that we can make ourselves fit channels for passing on the truth to others. Spiritual understanding brings the knowledge that matter is the tool with which we may shape the nobler life into a likeness of the Creator. Harmony with His will, understanding, and application of His laws will bring at all times peace, not tumult; joy, not sorrow; love, not hate; and strength, not weakness. With His aid and the knowledge of His Spirit bearing witness with our spirit, the yoke that we are called upon to bear becomes, in fact, easy; and the burdens laid upon us are, indeed, light.

Does the Life Lived According to Our Own Faith, Our Own Understanding, and Our Own Walking in His Presence Explain Why Each Soul Must Bear a Cross?

As we seek to apply that learned in previous lessons dealing with attributes of the soul which should be magnified through our daily activities, we begin to realize our lack of application of those essential elements or attributes. We realize that we bear crosses because we have not yet learned to give complete expression to our soul faculties. We gradually realize how much of the inner self we have covered up, pushed aside for what we considered the more important desires of the conscious self. In so doing we have pushed ourselves further and further away from God. How well we begin to comprehend that our crosses are created by ourselves!

On the other hand, as we learn and apply these attributes of the soul, there comes joy and peace in the realization that the inner self is awakening and that it is ever on the alert to express itself through the exercising of faith, virtue, and understanding. Our relationships with others are made more perfect, and the ideal is set in Him. We see our crosses in a new light; we begin to catch a glimpse of the glory of the crown. We come to the realization of having, in truth, a part of the divine plan.

Why Has the Cross Been Chosen
Rather Than Some Other Philosophy
That Might Correlate the Material and Spiritual Life?
The cross is the emblem of the subjective self of the One who bore the burden of the world. It is chosen, not because of the personality of the greater teacher, Jesus the man, but because of the way to the Father made plain through Jesus the Christ. It is the symbol of the life and teachings of Him who stirred the souls of all to express in all other forms of truth. It is a part of the truth of the world and the whole truth for those who choose its standard. It answers every question of the soul that is ready for light and satisfies the longing of the innermost being. It is a symbol of the way of truth and light, universal in appeal, eternal and impelling, yet personal in application. In seeking the Divine, we have taken Jesus the Christ as our Ideal, for we find in Him the embodiment of all truth throughout the ages. Others may point the way. He said, "I am the way."

Why Is the Cross, the Emblem of Shame, Necessary for Those Who Seek the Crown?

We consider a cross an emblem of shame, for innately we realize it is symbolic of opposition to God's law. As in the beginning, the misuse of power given unto us brought suffering in this material world. The cross is the emblem of shame to those who in the material world judge from appearance. It calls for humility, not stubbornness. It calls for suffering, not retorts. It calls for patience, not impetuosity. It calls for love of enemies, not hatred. It calls for forgiveness, not unforgiveness. All this must be borne in the cross that the crown may be laid upon the brow of the real heir, and not the usurper, who would never understand his or her subjects nor the road to true development. Who else has cleared the way for humankind and said to all, "Whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother"?

In bearing the cross we come to know the real meaning of the crown, the joy of completing a work, and the success that is the reward of a finished race. As we develop day by day, the idea of shame passes and there comes the joy of being one with Him in the great work of redeeming humanity. It is, indeed, an emblem of opportunity, and we come to see more and more the face of the Master reflected in each cross we bear.

The cross does not always remain the cross of shame. In the life of the Christ, the Holy One, the Son of God, it became glorified in having been overcome. Just so with us; each cross met, bravely borne, and overcome, becomes radiant with light and brings us into a more perfect understanding of the purpose of life and the glory that may be in the crown of life.

There was a cross that fell on me with shadows dark and long It crowded out my sun, my light, and blotted out my song; But when I raised my eyes for help, I saw a Radiant One, That stooped to lift my heavy cross-'Twas Christ, the Blessed Son.

Why Must I, as a Soul in a Material Plane, Bear a Cross?
This is a question that each of us individually should ask ourselves, and the manner in which we answer determines our spiritual status. It is the spiritual gauge of our development since the fall of humanity.

Whenever this question has been considered, many go away and walk no more in the way. "Will ye go also?" Shall we not reply, "Lord, to whom shall we go? For Thou alone hast the words of eternal life." (See 262-35.) Shall we evade the cross that is ours to bear, especially at this time when humanity is entering the greatest test period in the history of the world? The words of the prophet seem to come ringing down the ages, "Who may abide the day of His coming?" Know we not that it is only those whose loins are girt about with truth? Who shall be able to abide to take this stand?

As individuals in the material plane, we must of necessity bear many things coincident with His earthly experience, and by recognizing our obligations as children of the living God, as He did, and learning from Him the lesson of meekness and lowliness of heart, we exemplify through service and sacrifice the life He lived.

Knowing that the purpose of life is to be one with the Father, we have to wait if we expect to see results in material manifestation. There is no surer way of realization than "to keep on keeping on" in the way of the Christ. While our efforts may seem wrong in the eyes of everyone, there is a Power that takes hold in our extremities and adjusts every situation. As we trust that Power, our strength is renewed.

As we meet the crosses, endure the temptations, and overcome them, we become heirs and joint heirs with Him to the crown of glory. All who fulfill the purpose for which they are called bear their crosses not in sorrow, not in wailing, but in the joy of the Lord.

As a sign to us who have met our crosses and have overcome them, there comes that ability to meet other and greater crosses in the joy of the Lord, and to rejoice that we are counted worthy.

Let us enter into the service that may be our part as channels of blessings to others. In so doing we become conscious that our lives are spent in the way He would have us go, and that His presence abides with us. The door is open. Virtue and understanding find activity. Faith is renewed day by day, for we are more able to understand conditions that arise-whether from the mental, the material, or the spiritual. Access to the Father may be held as a cooperative force in whatever sphere of activity we may engage when in service to others.

It is not in times or seasons or in any place-but in every place, every day, and every hour that we may show forth His love to those we contact. By our lives others may know that He walks with us and is our friend. Upon what is the glory of the crown conditioned? Faith-ful-ness.

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