A comparison between Christ and a man who in his life endured the same treatment by his times as Christ endured.
Let us imagine a man, one of the exalted spirits, one who was wronged by his times, but whom history later reinstated in his rights by proving by the consequences of his life who he was. I do not deny, by the way, that all this business of proving from the consequences is a course well suited to “a world which ever wishes to be deceived.” For he who was contemporary with him and did not understand who he was, he really only imagines that he understands when he has got to know it by help of the consequences of the noble one’s life. Still, I do not wish to insist on this point, for with regard to a man it certainly holds true that the consequences of his life are more important than the fact of his having lived.
Let us imagine one of these exalted spirits. He lives among his contemporaries without being understood, his significance is not recognized—he is misunderstood, and then mocked, persecuted, and finally put to death like a common evil-doer. But the consequences of his life make it plain who he was; history which keeps a record of these consequences re-instates him in his rightful position, and now he is named in one century after another as the great and the noble spirit, and the circumstances of his debasement are almost completely forgotten. It was blindness on the part of his contemporaries which prevented them from comprehending his true nature, and wickedness which made them mock him and deride him, and finally put him to death. But be no more concerned about this; for only after his death did he really become what he was, through the consences of his life which, after all, are by far more important than his life.
Now is it not possible that the same holds true with regard to Christ? It was blindness and wickedness on the part of those timesbut be no more concerned about this, history has now re-instated him, from history we know now who Jesus Christ was, and thus justice is done him.
Ah, wicked thoughtlessness which thus interprets Sacred istory like profane history, which makes Christ a man! But can one, then, learn anything from history about Jesus? (cf. b) No, nothing. Jesus Christ is the object of faith.one either believes in him or is offended by him; for “to know” means precisely that such knowledge does not pertain to him. History can therefore, to be sure, give one knowledge in abundance; but “knowledge” annihilates Jesus Christ.
Again—ah, the impious thoughtlessness!—for one to presume to say about Christ’s abasement: “Let us be concerned o more about his abasement.” Surely, Christ’s abasement as not something which merely happened to him—even if was the sin of that generation to crucify him; was surely ot something that simply happened to him and, perhaps, would not have happened to him in better times. Christ himself wished to be abased and lowly. His abasement (that is, his walking on earth in humble guise, though being God) is therefore a condition of his own making, something he wished to be knotted together, a dialectic knot no one shall presume to untie, and which no one will for that matter, until he himself shall untie it when returning in his glory.