Earlier I posted comments for Kahlil Gibran’s moving Jesus, Son of Man, and now share some quotations from it.
Then He looked at me, and the noontide of His eyes was upon me, and He said, “You have many lovers, and yet I alone love you. Other men love themselves in your nearness. I love you in your self. Other men see a beauty in you that shall fade away sooner than their own years. But I see in you a beauty that shall not fade away, and in the autumn of your days that beauty shall not be afraid to gaze at itself in the mirror, and it shall not be offended. I alone love the unseen in you.”
He would begin a story thus: “The ploughman went forth to the field to sow his seeds.” Or, “Once there was a rich man who had many vineyards.” Or, “A shepherd counted his sheep at eventide and found that one sheep was missing.” And such words would carry His listeners into their simpler selves, and into the ancient of their days. At heart we are all ploughmen, and we all love the vineyard. And in the pastures of our memory there is a shepherd and a flock and the lost sheep. And there is the plough-share and the winepress and the threshing-floor. He knew the source of our older self, and the persistent thread of which we are woven. The Greek and the Roman orators spoke to their listeners of life as it seemed to the mind. The Nazarene spoke of a longing that lodged in the heart.
Many times the Christ has come to the world, and He has walked many lands. And always He has been deemed a stranger and a madman.
And one evening as we sat beside the stream He said, “Behold the brook and listen to its music. Forever shall it seek the sea, and though it is for ever seeking, it sings its mystery from noon to noon. “Would that you seek the Father as the brook seeks the sea.”
And then He said, “Judea would have a king, and she would march against the legions of Rome. I shall not be her king. The diadems of Zion were fashioned for lesser brows. And the ring of Solomon is small for this finger. “Behold my hand. See you not that it is over-strong to hold a sceptre, and over-sinewed to wield a common sword? Nay, I shall not command Syrian flesh against Roman. But you with my words shall wake that city, and my spirit shall speak to her second dawn. My words shall be an invisible army with horses and chariots, and without axe or spear I shall conquer the priests of Jerusalem, and the Caesars. I shall not sit upon a throne where slaves have sat and ruled other slaves. Nor will I rebel against the sons of Italy. But I shall be a tempest in their sky, and a song in their soul. “
He was a mountain burning in the night, yet He was a soft glow beyond the hills. He was a tempest in the sky, yet He was a murmur in the mist of daybreak. He was a torrent pouring from the heights to the plains to destroy all things in its path. And He was like the laughter of children.
But the grave halts not Jesus’ walking to the enemies’ camp to tame and take captive those who had opposed Him.
And when we were sitting about the board, one of the publicans questioned Jesus, saying, “Is it true that you and your disciples break the law, and make fire on the sabbath day?” And Jesus answered him saying, “We do indeed make fire on the sabbath day. We would inflame the sabbath day, and we would burn with our touch the dry stubble of all days.”
They say He raised the dead to life. If you can tell me what is death, then I will tell you what is life. In a field I have watched an acorn, a thing so still and seemingly useless. And in the spring I have seen that acorn take roots and rise, the beginning of an oak tree, towards the sun. Surely you would deem this a miracle, yet that miracle is wrought a thousand thousand times in the drowsiness of every autumn and the passion of every spring. Why shall it not be wrought in the heart of man? Shall not the seasons meet in the hand or upon the lips of a Man Anointed? If our God hsa given to earth the art to nestle seed whilst the seed is seemingly dead, why shall He not give to the heart of man to breathe life into another heart, even a heart seemingly dead?
My friend, you like all other Romans would conceive life rather than live it. You would rule lands rather than be ruled by the spirit. You would conquer races and be cursed by them rather than stay in Rome and be blest and happy. You think but of armies marching and of ships launched into the sea. How shall you then understand Jesus of Nazareth, a man simple and alone, who came without armies or ships, to establish a kingdom in the heart and an empire in the free spaces of the soul?
I loved him and I shall love him forevermore. If love were in the flesh I would burn it out with hot irons and be at peace. But it is in the soul, unreachable.