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[II Tim. 4:9–22; Luke 20:1–8] The priests, scribes and el­ ders did not believe in the Lord. In order to raise them up to faith He offered them a ques­tion: the bap­ tism of John, was it from heav­en, or of men? Rea­son about this with­out bias and your rea­son­ing will bring you to faith. What is said about John’s appear­ing can be said about every event accom­pa­ny­ing the Lord’s com­ing in the flesh, and a­ bout His very com­ing, and all that comes into con­tact with it. Let each per­son rea­son about all of this —the con­clu­sion will be the same: “tru­ly this was the Son of God.” Var­ ious thoughts can come, con­fu­sion can arise, what seems like incongru­ ities can be encoun­tered; but at the end of all inves­ti­ga­tions one univer­ sal con­vic­tion will come: that it is impos­si­ble to think any oth­er way than as is shown in the Gospels and apos­tolic writ­ings. Great is the mys­ tery of god­li­ness: God is man­i­fest in the flesh (I Tim. 3:16).This remains a mys­tery, but it will be clear to the mind accord­ing to the moral neces­ sity which the mind’s own investi­ gation will apply to itself — to con­ fess this way, and in no oth­er way. Unbe­liev­ers either do not investi­ gate at all as they ought, or they in­ ves­ti­gate super­fi­cial­ly, with a mind alien to it, or they accept a wretched frame of mind that is opposed to what faith would require. The most insignif­i­cant refu­ta­tion of the faith is enough for them, in order to justi­ fy their unbe­lief. The words of un­ believ­ers shake believ­ers, because believ­ers are sat­is­fied with sim­ple faith, and do not seek clar­i­fi­ca­tion of the foun­da­tions of faith. Those words take them unawares; that is why they are shaken.

Saint Theo­phan the Recluse