A New Look at Christ
A New Jesus
by Wallace D. Wattles
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This is one of Wallace Wattles' very first books, and it is virtually impossible to find original copies nowadays, yet it contains some of his very best work. It is based on a lecture that Wattles delivered in 1905 entitled "Jesus: The Man and His Work." This book does not attempt to prove something about Christ; instead it is an effort to ascertain by scientific study, what He was, how He lived, and what He taught. Too many people have studied Jesus from the standpoint of some preconcieved notion of Him or His mission. Such an attitude always leads to eroneous conclusions. This book was once described by Wallace D. Wattles' son, Russell, as, "the best thing Wallace D. Wattles ever wrote" and by his publisher, Elizabeth Towne, as "the greatest New Thought book, and without a doubt the most important book Wallace D. Wattles ever wrote.
The common concept of Christ was given to the church by the priests of the dark ages, at a time when a religious ideal was wanted which should induce men to be content with slavery, and to bow their necks to every kind of wrong and oppression; and this concept was drawn almost wholly from the poetry of Isaiah; the Christ of the churches is the Christ of Isaiah, and our ideas of Him are not drawn at all from an impartial study of the history of His life.
Such passages in the prophecies as; "He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and we hid, as it were, our faces from him; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth," have been quoted to show His character, and the meekness and humbly submissive spirit with which He endured wrong and injustice; and we have had held up as the ideal man a despised, friendless, poverty-stricken laborer whom the upper classes regarded with scorn because of his lowly origin and station; who had no friends save fishermen, laborers, outcasts and sinners; who was often shirtless and hungry, and who bore insults and persecutions with meek submission, and walked about in a scornful world with his hands always uplifted in loving benediction.
This character has too long been offered as the Christian ideal; Be meek, Be submissive, Be lamb-like or sheep-like. Bow your head before the persecutor, and offer your back to the shearer. Rejoice when you are fleeced; it is for the glory of God. It is a good religion for the man with the shears.
The Christ who was held up in the old fashioned orthodox pulpit is a weak character. He is not the kind of a man we would nominate for president, and his followers have very little faith in him as an organizer.
No railroad magnate of today would make him foreman of a section; and if it were broadcast over the country tonight that the president of the United States had resigned and that Jesus would be inaugurated tomorrow, 95 percent of the Christians there would draw their money out of the banks for fear Jesus might start a panic.
What we propose to do now is to ascertain by a study of the four gospels in the light of history whether this is the real Christ; and if not, to find what the real Christ was like.
The Real Jesus Christ
In the first place, then, Jesus could not have been despised because He was a carpenter, or the reputed son of a carpenter. Custom required every Jewish Rabbi or teacher to have a trade. We read in the Talmud of Rabbi Johanan, the blacksmith, and of Rabbi Isaac, the shoemaker, learned and highly honored men. Rabbi Jesus, the carpenter, would be spoken of in the same way. St. Paul, a very learned man, was a tent-maker by trade.
At that time, and among that people, Jesus could not have been despised for His birth and station.
And He was popularly supposed to be of royal blood, being saluted as the son of David; His lineage was well known. The people who cried "Hosannah to the son of David" knew that He was an aristocrat of the aristocrats; a prince of the royal house. He was not "lowly" in birth, nor was He supposed to be so. On this point I refer you to Matthew 9:27; Matthew 15:22; Matthew 20:30; Matthew 21:9; Mark 10:47.
He Was Educated
Second, He could not have been despised for His ignorance, for He was a very learned man. Whenever He went into a synagogue He was selected to read the law and teach the congregation, as the one best qualified for that work. Luke says; "There went a fame of Him through all the region round about, and He taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all." In those times of fierce religious disputation, no unlearned man could have held his own in such fashion. He must have been letter-perfect in the books of the Jewish law, for He was always able to rout His adversaries by making apt quotations from their own books. Even His enemies always addressed Him as Master, or Teacher, acknowledging His profound learning. On this point, read Matthew 13:54; Mark 12:24-34; Luke 4:14-15; John 7:19-23; John 10:34.
Jesus Had Plenty
Third, He was not despised for His poverty, for He had many wealthy and influential friends, and knew no lack of anything. Lazarus and his sisters, whose home was always open to Him, were people of consequence; for we are told that "many of the Jews" came to comfort the sisters when Lazarus died.
Luke says that Joanna, the wife of Chuza, the king's steward, and other women "ministered unto him of their substance"; that is, they were supporters of His work.
The king's steward was a high official, and his wife would be a prominent lady.
Joseph of Arimathea, who came to get the body of Jesus, was a well-to-do man. So, probably was Nicodemus.
Jesus healed the sick in the families of rulers and high officials, and they appear to have responded liberally in supplying His financial needs.
True, He held no property and bought no real estate; but He dressed expensively, lived well and never lacked for money. When He was crucified the soldiers cast lots for His clothing because it was too fine to cut up, as they would have done with the garments of an ordinary man; and on the night of His betrayal, when Judas went out, it was supposed by the others that he had gone to give something to the poor. It must have been their custom to give away money, or how could such a supposition have arisen?
In that country and climate, the wants of Jesus and His disciples were few and simple, and they seem to have been fully supplied. He wore fine clothes, had plenty to eat and drink, and had money to give away. Read Luke 8:1-3; Luke 5:33; Luke 23:50; John 11:19; John 12:2; John 19:23.
Jesus Was Not Humble
Fourth, Jesus was not humble, in the commonly accepted meaning of the word. He was a man of the most impressive, commanding and powerful personal appearance. He "spoke as one having authority" and "his word was with power."
Frequently, we are told, great fear and awe fell upon the people at His mighty words and works. In one place they were so frightened that they besought Him to leave; and John tells how certain officers sent to arrest Him in the market place lost their nerve in His commanding presence, and went back, saying "Surely, never man spake like this man."
On the night of His arrest a band of soldiers approached Him in the grove and asked for Jesus of Nazareth; and when He answered "I am he," such was His majesty and psychic power that they prostrated themselves; "they went backward," the account says, "and fell to the ground" (John 18:6).
To be like the Christ of the four Gospels, one must be learned, well dressed, well supplied with money, and of noble and commanding appearance, speaking with authority, and having tremendous magnetic power. And now, what was His attitude toward His fellow men?