We Beheld His Glory - Volume 2
by T. Austin-Sparks

A Retrospect

We have come now to the end of these brief meditations in the Gospel by John. Nothing academic has been attempted. All technical questions have been avoided. The spiritual message and value has been the sole object.

Throwing a look back over this record, one thing may be taken up profitably for notice and re-emphasis. With all the beauty and wonder of what is gathered into this account, it is not possible to avoid the realization that from beginning to end the writer was up against something. Both in what he himself said about Jesus, and in all the scenes, incidents, and utterances recorded of Jesus, there is a strenuous element, which varies from controversy, reserve, antagonism, and question, to lack of capacity to appreciate, understand, or believe.

This (either positive or negative) difficulty covers the religious leaders, the people in view generally, and particularly disciples and friends. There is something to be overcome, to be broken down, or to be changed. Jesus is a mystery; that is what it amounts to. He is other, different - an enigma. He cannot be interpreted in any of the standard terms of either human nature or religion, as generally known and accepted. He is a stranger, an outsider, and the easiest thing is to be against and not with Him. Indeed, it is difficult not to be offended with Him, even in the case of the closest friends. All this in spite of the great amount said as to His love.

What, then, does it all amount to? Is there something in this which is as much the message of the book as anything particularly recorded in it? I think there is, and it is this. There are two realms which, while at times and in certain cases seeming to be nearer than at others, never do actually meet or overlap. They are two separate realms, and not two shades or degrees of one. The one never does or can fully understand, appreciate, or comprehend the other, and religion - traditional religion - gives no great advantage, if any, in this matter.

It is just the wide and unbridgeable difference between the spiritual on the one hand, and the natural - even though devoutly religious - on the other. The gap remains and that is the reason for so much of the difficulty, the trouble, the perplexity! It explains the aloneness and loneliness of Jesus. Paul drank deeply of this cup. The way of the Spirit and spirituality is a lonely way, a misunderstood way, and often an antagonized way. Adjust everything to the reason of man and the traditions of men, and this element of hard going will be eliminated. Walk by the Spirit, and you are with a minority.


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