The controversy renewed: eternal life

The controversy renewed: eternal life

Feast of Dedication. Jesus one with the Father.

(The Gospel History, Section 82)

The Jews therefore came round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou hold us in suspense? If thou art the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believe not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, these bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, which hath given them unto me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

The controversy renewed: eternal life

(The Saviour of the World, Vol V Book V Poem LXVI)

The Jews. How long hold’st us in suspense? If Thou be Christ,

Tell us so plainly that we may believe;
(So, Herod, when he sought the young Child’s life)—
Thou hidest under cover of vain words,
Figures and allegories of no intent,
Or deepest import as men shall receive:
A Shepherd? What’s a shepherd, save a hind
Engaged to lead sheep forth, and keep and fetch?
Thou playest with grave doctors of the law
With Thy vain talk of shepherd, light and door!
Speak plainly if Thou’dst have us hold Thee sane!

The Lord. I told you, and ye believe not: all the works

I have done before you in My Father’s name,—
In His name, for, indeed, they be His works
That He practiseth continually the while
He blesseth, feedeth, restoreth life to men,—
These works I do are tongues to tell of Me;
Hath ever man rejoicing ta’en his way
As the sun in heaven, shedding life and light?
What ails you that ye will not understand?
If more than man’s My words, if more My works,
Why, what remains to think?

The Jews. Thou reasonest well;

The silly multitude must needs believe
And follow as Thou lead’st; but we’re no sheep,—
Unreasoning souls to follow where we’re led!

The Lord. There spake ye true; ye are no sheep of Mine;

See you, My sheep discern ’mongst many voices
The voice of Him, their Shepherd; I know them;
For them, they watch their Shepherd’s eye; read they,
Therein, authority and tenderness,—
Rule, each must follow; love, which embraces each;
They follow Me; and, lo, as they come, meek,
I give them of My own—eternal life!

The Jews. “Eternal life!” what’s that? The pot of gold

The children look for where the rainbow ends!
Gav’st Thou them bread to stay their stomachs on,
Poor wretches, ’twere a seemlier gift for them!
But, see’st Thou, those sorry sheep of Thine,
They go, as Thou, in peril of their lives:
Who scorn the Law shall perish by the Law;
What then of th’ eternal life Thou giv’st?

The Lord. Kill ye,

Yet live they still; ye follow, track and seize,
Yet never from My hand shall one of these
Be snatched by you—or all the powers of hell.

The Jews. They die and do not perish—what is this?

A madman’s ravings or a charlatan’s guile
Uttered to deceive the people?

The Lord. Blind are ye,

And will not see the truth! Talk to the blind
Of splendour of sunset-skies, thou dost but rave;
Poor man who knows not colour, what to him
Your greens and purples, crimsons, violet tints?
All is but silly talk! And you, My friends,
Who take no count of God in all your thought,
You think on life as blind men think on light—
’Tis nought to you! Believe Me, life is God,
And where is God, there is eternal life.

The Jews. Mark how He shirks the point;—we spake of these,

The ignorant multitude; and He lessons us
With that which children learn at mothers’ knees—
That life is of God!

The Lord. Aye, life is of God; and He

Hath given life to these poor sheep of Mine,
My Father’s gift to Me; wherefore, I say,
That none shall snatch them from Me; there is One
Who keeps them, cherishes, spoon-feeds with life:
My Father is greater than all; what do ye then?

The Jews. That God is great, all know; but who art Thou?

The Lord. I and the Father are one.

The Jews. We told you so!

Hear His rank blasphemy! Shall this man live,
To mock Jehovah and the people’s rulers?

St. John x. 24–30.

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