A Profession of Faith

Whom say ye that I am? — Jesus

M
y ideal is more than the Christ of theology. It is the Jesus of history. It is not alone the Jesus of Nazareth. It is a composite personality in whom are merged all the Christs of the centuries.

He is the gentleness which has looked with sad eyes on the cruelty of every age. He is the pity which has witnessed in anguish all the sorrows of men. He is the representative sufferer, the representative lover of the world, and men and women, countless millions of them, have stooped to touch the hem of his garment, and have risen in majesty from the dust.

He is not alone the Christ of the Christian. He is the Christ of the Jew also. Many have known him by the name of Lao-tse. Many by the name of Buddha divine. Now he is some lonely dreamer of the ghetto. Now a manacled liberator, expiating in chains the tyrannies of men. Again in a garret he toils over his crucibles in search of another God’s secrets to be the servitor of man.

Sometimes you see in his eyes the tears of unutterable grief, but a beauty that is born of goodness, and a calm that only they know whose love has been triumphant in suffering; and as you look, the sadness of that face is so luminous with joy, the defeat of it so prophetic of victory, that those tears seem as though they might be melted hearts of all the martyrs and mothers of the world. Sometimes you think you see on his brow a crown of thorns, when, lo! a mighty radiance appears, and in place of the thorns, a kingly diadem, in which are set the faces of all the sons of freedom.

This is humanity’s Christ. Called by many names, honored in every clime, this is the Divine Servant, the Master of the World, whose allegiance claims the hearts of us all.

— Herbert S. Bigelow, The Religion of Revolution (1916)