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3 3433 07955921 1







The Christian According to Paul: John T. Faris

Psalms of the Social Life: Cleland B. McAfee

The Many Sided David: Philip E. Howard

Meeting the Master: Ozora S. Davis

Under the Highest Leadership: John Douglas Adam

The Meaning of Faith: Harry Emerson Fosdick

A Living Book in a Living Age: Lynn Harold Hough

Other volumes to be announced later



Meeting the Master

Author of "Using the Bible in Public Address 1


New York: 347 Madison Avenuf.


Copyright, 1917, by

The International Committee of

Young Men's Christian Associations

The Bible Text used in this volume is taken from the American Standard
Edition of the Revised Bible, copyright, 1901, by Thomas Nelson & Sons,
and is usod by, permission.



Chapter Page

I. Jesus and John the Baptist i

II. Jesus and the Woman of Samaria 13

III. Jesus and Matthew 24

IV. Jesus and the Rich Young Ruler 36

V. Jesus and Nicodemus 47

VI. Jesus and Two Sick Men 58

VII. Jesus and Simon Peter 70

VIII. Jesus at the House of Simon 83

IX. Jesus at Home in Bethany 94

X. Jesus and the Hungry Crowd 107

XL Jesus and Pilate 118

XII. Jesus and the Group at the Cross 131

XIII. Jesus the Man and the Master 142


Jesus and John the Baptist

The following studies are designed to show the char-
acter of Jesus and the practical value of certain of his teach-
ings, as these are revealed through the personal relations
which the Master bore to individuals whom he met in his daily
life. Character is revealed and developed in the personal
reactions of common life more effectively than in any other
way. Therefore one of the surest methods by which to gain
an accurate idea of Jesus is to study the way in which he
entered into intimate relations with those around him. Jesus
moved through a real world of men and things; he was flesh
and blood with his disciples and his antagonists. Each person
whom he met was in some way a foil, bringing out his own
purpose and character. When we see him in these collisions
of thought and action, we are able to understand him.

Brief Outline Sketches are furnished with each chapter.
These are such rough cartoons or preliminary drawings as an
artist might make before painting a picture. A few bold
strokes are indicated ; the student will make his own com-
pleted study from these outlines.

First Week, First Day: "The Desert Preacher"

And in those days cometh John the Baptist, preaching
in the wilderness of Judaea, saying, Repent ye; for the
kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was
spoken of through Isaiah the prophet, saying,

The voice of one crying in the wilderness,
Make ye ready the way of the Lord,
Make his paths straight.


Now John himself had his raiment of camel's hair, and
a leathern girdle about his loins; and his food was locusts
and wild honey. Then went out unto him Jerusalem, and
all Judaea, and all the region round about the Jordan;
and they were baptized of him in the river Jordan, con-
fessing their sins. — Matt. 3: 1-6.

John the Baptist is a challenging figure. He looms in our
imagination. He lives in the desert, in his rough clothing,
eating his simple food, at home with the rocks and the stars
and the rugged sincerities of nature. He is no dandy from
the towns, no ladies' man, showing at his best in parlors and
at banquets. His skin is brown, his muscles are firm, he is
not afraid of the rain.

And his message matches his external appearance. It is
full of rugged sincerity, short, snappy, searching. It digs
to the roots of both personal and natural problems. It throws
sin into its red glare of disaster. John calls things by their
right names : he does not side-step ; he does not obscure the
truth. He throws one burning word at his hearers: "Repent."
He makes it an urgent matter. It cannot be put off" to a con-
venient time; every man must square his life up to the de-
mand of a righteous God and he must do it now.

And the message gains in dignity and grips with new power
when we notice that the man has forgotten himself. He calls
himself simply a Voice and a Way-maker. He, John, may be
forgotten ; but the great Cause is on its way. "God buries
his workmen, but carries on his work." John does not make
us conscious of himself; he only makes us aware of something
most vital and urgent, driving forward, getting the road ready
for something still greater to come.

Has John a word for us in these bustling times? Have we
ever considered what it means literally to use ourselves just
for building a way for the Kingdom?

First Week, Second Day: "A Personal Conse-

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to the Jordan unto John,
to be baptized of him. But John would have hindered
him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest
thou to me? But Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer


it now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.
Then he suffereth him. And Jesus, when he was baptized,
went up straightway from the water: and lo, the heavens
were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God de-
scending as a dove, and coming upon him; and lo, a voice
out of the heavens, saying, This is my beloved Son, in
whom I am well pleased. — Matt. 3: 13-17.

This was Jesus' public consecration of himself to the work
which he was to do in the world. His baptism could not have
involved the confession of sin and the reception of forgive-
ness, for which it stood in the case of the men whose con-
science had been stung into response by John's message. Jesus
did not hesitate to keep all the outward forms of the spiritual
life, as they were observed at the time. He went regularly
to the synagogue, he observed the times of prayer, he sent a
man whom he had cured to jthe priest in proper form. Jesus
was not careless or contemptuous of the forms of religion.
He did not come to destroy them, but to fill them with a new
life and spirit. His example gives no warrant or comfort
to those who say that formal expressions of religion are

This experience of Jesus is similar to that through which
we pass when we "join the church" or are "confirmed" or are
"baptized." It is like that act by which at any time we
express in a public way the purpose to give ourselves to a
life of personal service to God. Jesus was ready to stand
among his fellows and take upon himself a solemn consecra-
tion to a life of service to God and to his fellowmen.

Sometimes we are told that such consecrations are not
necessary and, in general, hardly desirable. Of course, these-
experiences occasionally foster sham and cant; and the
present hatred of hypocrisy is very wholesome: but surely
there could be no greater moment in the life of a sincere
and unselfish man than that in which he commits his life
to the service of a great cause. There is nothing to be
ashamed of in standing before his fellows personally to
assume the highest duty and to pledge himself to the holiest
of all friendship. When things go badly and work drags, it
helps tremendously to remember the sacred hour of consecra-
tion. Your public acceptance of Christ as Lord has helped
you: have you gained from it all that might have been pos-


First Week, Third Day: "When Men are Offered

And this is the witness of John, when the Jews sent
unto him from Jerusalem priests and Levites to ask him,
Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; and
he confessed, I am not the Christ. And they asked him,
What then? Art thou Elijah? And he saith, I am not.
Art thou the prophet? And he answered, No. They said
therefore unto him, Who art thou? that we may give an
answer to them that sent us. What sayest thou of thy-
self? He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilder-
ness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said Isaiah
the prophet. And they had been sent from the Pharisees.
And they asked him, and said unto him, Why then bap-
tizest thou, if thou art not the Christ, neither Elijah,
neither the prophet? John answered them, saying, I bap-
tize in water: in the midst of you standeth one whom ye
know not, even he that cometh after me, the latchet of
whose shoe I am not worthy to unloose. — John i: 19-27.

John knew what the people were expecting their Messiah to
do. Their patriotism was like tinder, waiting only for the
spark of a great battle-cry and a leader, in order to break into
a flame of revolution which should burn the Romans out of

John also knew what it would cost him to fail to meet this
popular demand. He must have had ambition ; without it
there would be no deep joy in life. But the way in which we
behave when men offer us crowns is the test of the strength
of the soul.

John knew, too, that the deepest needs of the nation could
not be served by him, but that they must be satisfied by Jesus.
While Jesus was living among them, the people did not
appreciate this ; nor do we fully understand it even now. But
John was clear in his vision on this point. So he met the test
of being offered a crown and never swerved in his loyalty to
his own life purpose and to his Master.

The secret of John's steadfastness and clarity of moral vision
is due to the fact that he defined his life with reference to
Jesus and His Cause. This does not mean that he had no
work of his own to do. We could not get on, unless we could
have a clear idea of certain work of our own which we must
do with our might. To plan our life in the light of alle-



giance to Jesus does not mean that it has no character or
direction of its own. John's life took on a real significance
only when he had related it to the greater mission of his
Master. Precision of aim is derived from the clearness and
worth of the objective. Steadiness also comes from the sense
of a clear purpose. When headed toward a high end, men
will not go to pieces when they are tested by the severe strain
of personal ambition. Have you defined the objective of your
life in reference to Christ and his purpose? Is your life
really making the way ready for greater achievements by those
who are to come after you?

First Week, Fourth Day: "The Index Finger"

On the morrow he seeth Jesus coming unto him, and
saith, Behold, the Lamb of God, that taketh away the
sin of the world! — John 1: 29.

The index finger is one of our most common and useful
symbols. It points out an object to an inquirer. John the
Baptist is the index finger, pointing his friends to the one
object about which their love and loyalty ought to center.
John did not gather a school of pupils to receive and extend
his teaching; he did not write books to expound his message;
he did not gather his friends into an institution which should
perpetuate his work. He pointed those who followed him to
Christ and he gave his testimony that Jesus was the Son of

This does not mean that there should be no teachers or theo-
logians or founders of institutions today; but it does indicate
the fact that the great work of any person is to be the index
finger, pointing out Christ as the Saviour of the world. But
just what do we mean by pointing others to Christ? In the
case of John, it involved two large considerations.

First, he had himself a clear conviction based upon expe-
rience that Jesus was the Son of God, to whom the personal
loyalty of His disciples was due. If he had not been sure
of this he could not have spoken with such certain accent.

Second, he established warm and frank personal relations
with his friends and then he told them of Jesus the Sin-Bearer.
John undertook what is now commonly known as "personal



We must revive our fundamental convictions of the reality
of Christ through fresh experience with him. Then we must
point out the Master to others as Saviour of the world. The
experience without the service may be only a selfish spiritual
joy; the service without the deepened experience may be only
a formal and barren religious act. What can we do to deepen
our convictions about Jesus through experience? How can
we make more personal contacts with others, for the purpose
of leading them to Christ?

First Week, Fifth Day : "The Rising Sun and the
Waning Star"

There arose therefore a questioning on the part of
John's disciples with a Jew about purifying. And they
came unto John, and said to him, Rabbi, he that was with
thee beyond the Jordan, to whom thou hast borne witness,
behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him. John
answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it
have been given him from heaven. Ye yourselves bear me
witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but, that I am
sent before him. He that hath the bride is the bridegroom:
but the friend of the bridegroom, that standeth and heareth
him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom's voice:
this my joy therefore is made full. He must increase, but
I must decrease. — John 3: 25-30.

The question which John's disciples were debating with a
Jew is without meaning to us today; but it was a matter of
vital concern at that time. Religion consisted mainly in cere-
monies. The proper way in which to accomplish purification
was a burning question. So the ideas of religion change!
We must seek for the truth that lies beneath the discarded
words and forms of the past. The right relation of the soul
to God is still supremely important ; we do not think that it
can be determined simply by a ceremony. It is life that counts.

As the sun rises in the morning, the stars disappear in the
brighter light. John rose like a brilliant morning star; his
radiance fell upon a bewildered and somber world. Then
came the growing sunlight from the life and words of Jesus.
John retreated into obscurity, and Jesus advanced into the
favor of the people. He increased ; John decreased.

How could there be a more biting test of the pure metal


of a man's life than this? If there had been the least envy
or jealousy in John's character, it would have come to the
front at this time. But John was great enough to see
another leader assume control of the cause that he loved, and
not permit his heart to harbor the least envy. Sometimes it
takes more real devotion to surrender personal leadership to
another than it would to make almost any sacrifice in the
position of command.

Think of the causes in which you are interested. How
ready are you to surrender leadership and put your pride in
your pocket? When the time comes for you to resign the
presidency, are you willing to work with the same zeal on a
committee? Have you swept the last shred of envy out of
the chambers of your soul?

First Week, Sixth Day: "What Ye Hear and See"

Now when John heard in the prison the works of the
Christ, he sent by his disciples and said unto him, Art
thou he that cometh, or look we for another? And Jesus
answered and said unto them, Go and tell John the things
which ye hear and see: the blind receive their sight, and
the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear,
and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good tid-
ings preached to them. And blessed is he, whosoever
shall find no occasion of stumbling in me. — Matt, n: 2-6.

Here is John in prison, kept there unjustly, waiting for
trial, for almost certain death, and eager for news of the
Cause. A few rumors, often conflicting and always meager,
sift in through the door of his dungeon. One says that the
people are becoming convinced that Jesus is the great ex-
pected Leader ; another dashes John's kindling hopes by
reporting that none except a few fishermen have followed
him and that he is discredited by all the officials in the church.
One day it is said within John's hearing that Jesus of Naz-
areth is healing all kinds of disease and that all the signs
point toward his fulfilment of the promises concerning the
Messiah ; the next day there is a report that opposition is
growing and that the Jerusalem authorities are likely to take
vigorous action against Jesus soon.

And meantime John feels that he must know the truth. He
has pointed out Jesus as the Messiah. Was he mistaken? Is


his whole life a failure? Or does he need only to wait and be
patient until the truth is finally known? "Hope deferred
maketh the heart sick." Anything can be borne more easily
than uncertainty.

So John sends on his disciples to find out the truth. It is
John's question that they ask. We can almost hear its
trembling eagerness. It calls for an immediate and positive

Was the answer satisfactory to John? And does the beati-
tude really mean something to us?

First Week, Seventh Day: "Greater than the

Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of
women there hath not arisen a greater than John the
Baptist: yet he that is but little in the kingdom of heaven
is greater than he. — Matt, n: n.

At first glance the meaning of Jesus' tribute to John is not
wholly clear. The first clause is plain enough. Jesus says
explicitly that no man ever has lived who is greater than John.
This refers, of course, to the nobility of his character and
the real worth of the work that John did. Is this true?

The work of Moses seems incomparably greater. In the
spiritual history of mankind certainly the character of the
great, first man of faith, Abraham, seems more significant.
But the work of all religious leaders must be tested with
reference to its relation to Christ; and John had the privilege
of being the immediate announcer of Jesus as the Christ. In
this respect, therefore, he was the greatest of men who lived
before Him. And the self-forgetfulness and courage that
we have noted in him also make John a great soul.

But Jesus adds the statement that the humblest member of
the kingdom of heaven is greater than John. In what respect
is this true? John was like all those who lived before him in
that he did not have the privilege of knowing the Father in
the light of the revelation which Jesus gave us. He did not
have the joy of seeing defined in the life of Jesus the char-
acteristics of that highest human life which is set before us
there as our goal. And John never had the opportunity of
coming into contact with the creative energies which make



the soul new through faith in a divine Redeemer. So it is
true that the lowliest member of the kingdom that Christ
established is greater than the greatest of the men who lived
under the covenant of law and ceremonies. Have we ever
compared oar privileges as Christians with those of even the
most favored and strongest souls before Christ came into the


The character of John is clearly outlined in the passages
which we have studied, although they are not given to details.
The Master's Way-maker is a free spirit, living near to
nature and yet knowing the moral conditions of the time. He
has a strong body behind him ; he has not broken the edge of
his manhood by early vice. We get the sense of the funda-
mental human traits of courage and strength from the first
look at him ; fuller acquaintance strengthens the impression.

John is fearless and practical in his public message and his
personal interviews. In an age of subtle arguments and hair-
splitting he tells the truth in plain terms. So he wins the
respect of men, even when he cuts to the quick in dealing
with their sins. No ethical leader can be effective unless he
is as frank and fearless as John. In the end even his enemies
honor him for his fearlessness. Note that John's honesty
never took the form of denunciation in a negative spirit. He
revealed their sins to men, in order that he might help them
to be rid of them.

The worthy causes that have been wrecked by the struggle
for personal leadership litter the path of human progress.
Individual ambition appears again and again at the critical
moment in a conflict between good and evil, and the right
cause is lost because a man could not subordinate his personal
desires to his ideal. How big John looks from this distance !
He is ready to be forgotten, if only the great movement which
he has ushered in may go on to success. With the centuries
to give us perspective, it seems that this ought to have been
a surrender relatively easy to make. But John had no such
advantage in reaching his decision. He made the great sur-
render with no knowledge of its results to help him. It was a
glorious surrender of personal prestige.

The only reason why John was able to give up his personal
leadership with such serene faith was because he had put



the Coming One at the very center of all his conscious
activity. He did not think or plan or act in reference to him-
self. This Jesus who was to save mankind was the supreme
fact in all his estimates of responsibility and duty. It is not
using mere formal religious terms when we describe John
as a "wholly consecrated" man. Our ideas of consecration
have gathered too much around public oral expressions of
purpose. But John did the real thing. He did not talk about
it ; he went straight to work and did it. His consecration was
not an act to be boasted of. It was quiet and thorough. But
it is the supreme glory of his life.

Then one day down to the shore comes a carpenter from
the village of Nazareth. The two face each other. How
the depths of Jesus' soul must have responded to the heroic
figure and stirring message of the great Way-maker! Two
plain men. as the world judges, faced each other: the one
proclaimed the promise of a world's redemption, the other
brought in his hands the fulfilment. John caught up in him-
self the best of his race, he embodied the burning desire for
truth and righteousness of its greatest heroes; and Jesus, we
believe, gladly and proudly received from his Forerunner the
commission to go forward to realize all that John had thought
or dreamed.

With what quiet majesty Jesus steps forth to give himself
up in an act of public dedication to a life of unselfish service !
No stir was made in Jerusalem the day the young Teacher
from Nazareth came to the Jordan to devote himself to his
Father in heaven. He was thoroughly his own master. He
announced no program ; he made no claims. But the universe
itself felt the significance of his decision that day. A new
base line was run from which we may survey the moral and
spiritual world with confidence. It is an example of the fact
that the greatest forces are not noisy.

Then also began a new era of gladness in human life. The
figure of the bridegroom, with whom his friends rejoice, is
one of the most accurate descriptions of Jesus that we have.
Jesus is the creator of the deepest joy that we ever can know.
Nothing does Jesus greater injustice than to represent him as
renouncing gloomily all that makes life glad or calling upon
his disciples to do so. The passing amusement and the fool-
ish jest are never associated with Jesus; but he was at home
with all wholesome human joys, at weddings and banquets,



with the crowd and among his friends. Art has put a halo
around his head ; but no nimbus separated him from the
happy life of his human comrades.

At the very outset, however, the names that Jesus accepts
as his due are the most sacred that could be given him. He
is the Lamb of God and the Son of God. He is wholly one
with his associates in daily life ; but he is also apart from
them in the majesty of his nature and the divine quality of
his character. The supreme titles were not given to Jesus at
the close of his career alone, but also, with great distinct-
ness and full realization of their meaning, at the beginning of
his public life. We cannot get our ideas of Jesus correctly
defined unless we start with the testimony of John. Undoubt-
edly both John and Jesus grew into deeper appreciation of
what the words Son of God meant as the months passed by;
but they started with this fundamental idea clearly in their
minds. There was only one spiritual leader in all history
entitled to bear these names.


1. Who were the forerunners of Luther and Lincoln? What

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Online LibraryOzora Stearns DavisMeeting the Master → online text (page 1 of 14)